Sustainable British Alpaca, their fibre & products in our world.
The clothing & textile world has more recently become one of chain store, cheap & imported garments often made in third world countries where the workers are underpaid and work in appalling conditions.
The British Alpaca Society would like to change the way we think of our fibre & clothing, where it is sourced from and how to reduce the carbon footprint, we each have a responsibility for. Since Brexit people are becoming more aware of where raw products and parts are manufactured/sourced from and assembled, often now preferring to ‘Buy British’ where possible.
Alpaca is one of the worlds natural fibres and importantly, is sustainable. Natural undyed alpaca could help to change the way people view what they wear and help the environment too.
Alpaca feels good, looks good, is sustainable & eco-friendly too.
Rarely have we considered where raw materials are sourced from. Most manufacturing labels that claim ‘made in Britain’ are actually only finished in the UK. Any imported item (food, machinery & fibre etc) which undergoes a process in the UK can legally be marked ‘made in Britain’. This not only devalues the UK products & produce but means our economy does not benefit fully and our farmers (owners of alpacas) are challenged even more in the marketplace. This is about buy British & ‘Buy/Sell/Made in Britain’ from alpaca reared, fibre grown, harvested & produced in Britain. Provenance is starting to become more of a consideration to customers/buyers of products and we too can be a part of a changing world.
Many owners of herds of alpacas, might consider them as pets or commercial or somewhere undefined in between, can, should and must contribute to the UK fibre market. No one can do this alone but maybe as a group dedicated to alpacas, we can try to make a difference. Everything has to start somewhere and with consumers being more aware even the small-scale producer can participate and make a difference by expressing the benefits of home-grown alpaca fibre.
We can offer guidelines to ensure the welfare of alpacas, that fibre is harvested in a respectful & caring manner & that all herds have access to information to be able to provide all 5 Freedoms in life:
We know that if we make good breeding choices, pay attention to husbandry & nutrition that our alpacas ‘live well’. In doing so they will produce good quality, useable fibre. Happy alpacas mean good fibre, good fibre means good yarn & products which in turn translates into good revenue.
Alpacas originate from Peru, Bolivia & Chile where their fibre was so prized that only Royalty was permitted to wear such beautiful garments. Alpacas manage the extremes of temperature in South America well. Today we have to offer a helping hand in our unpredictable British weather. We are fortunate that our climate is well suited to alpacas as long as keepers understand the fundamentals of managing them in our climes.
While many talk of the micron of alpaca v wool, in truth it is the uniformity which will look after the micron. Every fleece varies over its entirety but that variance can be reduced by selecting appropriate breeding stock to negate the lesser traits. Most alpaca falls into the range of 18-25 micron, the lower the variation the better the handle, the better the product. There is of course a use for all fibre including the second cuts (I am led to understand). When fleeces are processed, they are carefully ‘matched’ within a batch to produce the best outcome meaning best final products. Chemicals used in scouring & dying are damaging to both fibre & the environment and unnecessary in producing products and we need to consider the impact the damage has already done and the how we can contribute to reducing further damage for generations yet to come.
So, lets extol the virtues of British alpaca, their fibre & products – British Alpaca feels good, looks good, is sustainable & eco-friendly too.