Alpacas & Sustainability
We at Inkari believe that transparency is key. Because of this, we provide you a clear overview of what we ourselves implement to create a more sustainable world. Our goal is to educate and inform readers on all the ecological benefits of Alpaca Wool, so that they themselves can make a substantiated decision.
Therefore, we present you with the Inkari journey, which entails our dedication to a healthy planet, the people we serve, the people we work with, and off course our beautiful alpacas.
The Alpaca Itself
Our journey starts in the Andes where alpacas prosper and roam freely through the harsh Highlands. Alpaca hooves are softly padded with small cushions, which reduce the damaging soil compression effect greatly. Fields of grass are treaded upon, but remain undamaged, avoiding infertility of ecosystems. Soils that are 'fluffy' and are rich in other beneficial creatures add to the health of the ground. Increased soil fertility results in more water retainment and ultimately, well-nourished alpacas. A win-win for both alpacas and their environment.
Alpaca mouths lack teeth in their upper palette, which differentiates them from other fiber bearing animals, and affects the way they eat. An alpaca plucks grass; other wooly animals distress roots and some even rip entire clumps of grass out of the soil. Alpacas leaving in roots results in less soil erosion and depletion.
In addition, alpaca water usage is far less than similar fiber-producing animals. Having evolved in extreme harsh Andean climates in which water is only consistently available in some lower areas, has led to a very efficient conversion rate of water. Therefore, alpacas are an incredibly interesting livestock in a society where water becomes scarcer by the day. Water grabbing (= powerful actors take control of valuable water resources fort heir own benefits) is known to occur often in Peru and derives small communities from water. Alpacas can relief the communities of fierce water pressure and shortages.
Finally, alpacas nourish on a variety of plants, including many native species. There is no need to plant mono-crops and disturb natural vegetation by adding fertilizers needed to grow such crops. Dependency on mono-agriculture increases the proneness to diseases and the probability of livestock supplies collapsing. Requiring less resources to thrive, while obtaining these resources with shorter lasting natural impact, is what sets alpacas apart from other wooly animals.
Alpaca Farming and Processing
The farming process starts with the shearing process every Spring. Each 12-16 months an alpaca gets shorn to make use of the yield of its wool production; one well-bred alpaca produces about 4-5 sweaters every year. Read more about their yield on our page on all benefits of Alpaca Wool.
Wool production often is the primary source of income for most small alpaca farmers, which results in the (financial) desire to make use of the alpacas for the entirety of their lifespan (15-20 years). Alpacas that die a natural death are used completely in the Andean Highlands; both wool and leather are processed and nothing is wasted. The fact that alpacas are not produced for leather only is what sets these animals apart from ‘mainstream leather production’, where the end product (leather) is more valuable than the incremental yields and its profits (alpaca wool).
Our partners are carefully selected on their animal-friendly methods and high quality alpaca wool. Sustainable methods entail chemical-free production as well. As you might have read already on Alpaca Wool, Alpaca Wool lacks lanolin and therefore the need to use heavy chemical-laden soaps to scour the lanolin from the alpaca fleece. Environmentally friendly soaps can easily be used without damaging or harming the wool, and environment.
Throughout the past 6 years, we have come into contact with all sorts of Peruvians from a variety of different social classes, geographic regions, and cultural backgrounds. From those in extreme poverty to those who enjoyed great wealth, all have taught us the value of local traditions and methods to process the alpaca wool. Together with local artisans we create and hand-finish beautiful, authentic products that all our fans from all over the world enjoy. Inkari attempts to create value for these artisan workers by selecting only partners that work with or are part of these smaller population groups. In addition, creating jobs in economically weak areas is how we attempt to provide monetary support on a community-wide level.
This support stems back to our Creating Water Foundation Project in which we cooperated with smaller communities and created a green oasis in the midst of the harsh desert. Following these cooperative and community-reinforcing values, we work together with local businesses and apply a similar open and enthusiastic way of doing business with every one we work with in Peru.
Alpacas are cute animals, but do not let this cuteness fool you and underestimate them. Both ecologically and socially these animals are astonishing and unparallelled. Our goal is to inform you of this green alternative to the more mainstream fibers and give you the tools that help you make a substantiated decision.
Like what you’ve read? Then you’re definitely going to like what you see !