THE MOST SUSTAINABLE & ECO-FRIENDLY ALPACA WOOL
What is Sustainable?
Sustainability and eco-friendly are concepts that get thrown around in every industry and every walk of life, all over the world. But what "sustainable" and "eco-friendly" actually mean varies widely, especially in the clothing world.
Some "Sustainable" Fabrics May Cause More Harm Than Good
There are many fabrics on the market that, on the face if of it, seem to come from sustainable or eco-friendly sources. However, if you dig a little deeper, you find that they come with negative environmental impacts, sometimes potentially outweighing the initial benefits.
Cotton Uses Loads of Water
Cotton is a renewable natural fiber and in itself is biodegradable, so is often considered to be a sustainable fiber. However, cotton is a mono-crop, taking over large areas of natural habitat and according to The World Wild Life1, it takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce enough cotton (2.2lbs/1kg) for one t-shirt and one pair of jeans! Additionally, conventional cotton production uses high volumes of pesticides, which are harmful to farmers and toxic to our environment.
Recycled Polyester Releases Micro-plastics
Some synthetic fabrics, like polar fleece, can be made from recycled plastic bottles, which seems like a great way to reduce trash in the world and reduce the use of non-renewable petrochemicals. But chemical processing and micro-plastic leeching are issues associated with these fabrics that are potentially environmentally harmful.
Toxic Chemicals In Rayon's Production
Rayon is a plant-based product - clothing that grows on trees - but lack of control means toxic chemicals can end up in waterways and plantations of trees and bamboo for rayon production mean mass deforestation.
Super-Wash Merino Wool Uses Harmful Chemicals
Sheep's wool is a natural fiber that can be produced without killing the animal and it regrows each year, so seems pretty sustainable. However, vast swathes of land that could be habitats for native flora and fauna - in New Zealand and Australia for example - are dedicated to grazing sheep for wool production; large quantities of water and often chemicals are needed to wash sheep's wool to remove the lanolin and “scales” to make wool clothing machine-washable and comfortable to wear; and sheep’s wool production often involves practices that are seen as inhumane (such as mulesing), but that producers claim are their only option.
Mass Production = A Bigger Carbon Footprint
Additionally, all of the fabrics listed above generally create huge carbon footprints after their initial production, as the different stages of fabric and garment production are done in separate factories, often in several countries across the globe. Of course, any step we can take makes a difference and can have an overall positive impact, but is there something even better?
Alpacas Take Care Of The Earth
We source our alpaca wool exclusively from highland areas of Peru where alpacas are adapted to live naturally. These natural adaptations - listed below - help to reduce the environmental impact of alpaca wool production, in comparison to some of the other technical fibers on the market.
Alpaca have padded feet, rather than hard hooves. This means they have a reduced hoof ground pressure (a measure of the pressure exerted on the ground by the animal's feet) than sheep and helps to prevent them from trampling plants and eroding fragile, mountainside soil.
Instead of pulling grass up at the roots when they eat, Alpaca teeth cut the grasses which actually promotes plant regrowth. They are also very selective eaters, leaving certain plants be and eating only what they need.
As a general rule, alpacas graze over large areas of land, rotating pastures, to prevent over-grazing. Alpacas are unable to thrive in small, overgrazed areas, leading to reduced fiber production. Since fiber production is the main reason that people herd alpaca, the alpacas' welfare is a high priority for the farmers.
In order to avoid contaminating food and water sources, alpaca tend to defecate in communal dung piles, further reducing their impact on their local environment. An additional benefit to this practice is that it makes their droppings easy for the farmers to collect; this is important because highland families use alpaca droppings can as a natural fertilizer as well as biomass fuel.
Natural & Biodegradable Fiber
Alpaca wool is a natural fiber that undergoes minimal processing, without chemicals that can damage the environment, so in itself can be considered biodegradable. We are also working on a new line which will involve natural dying techniques, developed over thousands of years in Peru. The dyes are all naturally-occurring and can be fixed with mineral salts. The use of natural fibres, natural dyes and other innovations, allows us to work towards making our products 100% biodegradable; so when you eventually need to retire your Arms of Andes clothing, you can do so knowing that it won’t cause any damage to the environment.
Our alpaca wool comes directly from alpaca herders in the Peruvian Andes, whose families have been employing traditional techniques to rear alpacas and harvest their fiber for generations. Family-run farms raise the alpacas in small herds, having close and constant contact with the animals. The farmers then form co-ops to sell the wool for the best price available to them.
Alpacas in the Peruvian Andes are not “farmed” in the modern sense: instead, the animals are free roaming, allowed to graze up to 4,800 meters during the day, before being herded back to shelter at night. While alpacas have a more natural lifestyle than most livestock, they are still looked after by the farmers and have access to regular veterinary care when needed.
Peruvian Production Boosts The Local Economy
All our outdoor clothing is produced exclusively in Peru, generating many jobs locally for alpaca herders, shearers, fiber sorters, drivers and factory workers among others. This helps to promote the local economy, as well as encourage people from the Andean highlands to maintain a more traditional way of life.
Our Small Carbon Footprint
Single-Sourced and Made In Peru
Once the Alpaca fiber has been produced, it is processed into yarn, dyed and woven into a specially designed fabric, which is then used to create our high-performance garments. Rather than shipping the yarn or even fabric to the US, we decided to carry out entire production process in Peru. We do this to ensure quality, reduce our overall carbon footprint and ensure we are producing as sustainable and eco-friendly product as possible.
As well as the final products, our fabrics are made in Peruvian factories, close enough to the sources of the alpaca wool so that transport can be done overland. From the Peruvian factories, your garments are shipped to a regional distributor and then straight to you, reducing the number of flights involved in the production process and overall carbon footprint from transport.
" As nature lovers, we care about the environment and the impact our company and personal actions have on the environment. By producing and using 100% alpaca wool apparel, we can help minimize the impact of clothing production and commerce, making it one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly clothing products around. "
- AoA Team