Microplastics in clothing are a problem. Paka Apparel has a solution

By now you probably know that microplastics are everywhere. They are in our oceans, the soil, the rain, even our bodies. But how do they get there? Much of the microplastic pollution is the result of large pieces of plastic waste in the environment breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. Some of it comes from car tires that crumble to dust on hard asphalt roads. And up to 35% of microplastics in our oceans are the result of washing synthetic clothes.

For every load of laundry containing synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester and other materials, some nine million plastic microfibers are washed down the drain. And given their small size, these fibers often pass through sewage treatment plant filters into our waterways, and eventually the ocean. That’s a pretty damning set of facts. Especially for those of us who lead active lifestyles, as we often rely on synthetic clothing like comfortable fleeces, moisture-wicking t-shirts and breathable joggers to get out and stay comfortable while on the go. doing.

Lea Dawson Paka

Leah Dawson wears the Breathe hoodie and joggers, an all-natural clothing line from Paka. Photo: Paka Clothing.

However, as awareness around this global issue increases, better options arise. One such example is the Breathe line produced by Paka Apparel, a certified B-corp that has teamed up with professional surfer and ocean advocate Leah Dawson to bring the amazing alternative of alpaca fiber clothing to the world. “I want to be part of the generation that moves away from plastic and into natural fibers,” says Dawson. “Paka’s new Breathe collection is something that I feel so confident and comfortable and happy to wear because I know it’s not destroying myself or the earth.”

When it comes to the environment, alpaca fiber packs a punch. Paka uses fibers from small herds of 30-60 free-range animals in Peru. It is a stark contrast to the large farms of the goat and sheep industries which cause dust clouds and desertification due to overgrazing. Alpacas themselves need less water per day than sheep and only graze on the top layer of grass, allowing for regrowth. Also, one shearing of alpaca produces about four sweaters, while it takes four cashmere goats to produce the same amount of material.

Alpacas in the Andes.

Alpacas in their natural environment – the Andes mountains. Photo: Paka Clothing.

Not only is alpaca fiber better for the environment, but its usefulness as a clothing material is pretty amazing. Alpaca is one of the warmest natural fibers on the planet. Microscopic pockets trap air, creating a warmer vibe for the wearer. This also makes the fiber lightweight and highly thermoregulatory. The natural environment of alpacas – the Andes Mountains – is a world of extremes with freezing nights and hot, dry days at elevations around 15,000 feet. Alpaca fiber has evolved over thousands of years to adapt to such extremes. The keratin-based material is naturally antibacterial and odor resistant.

alpaca wool

Alpaca fiber has evolved to provide excellent thermoregulation in an extreme environment. Photo: Paka Clothing.

“When most people in the United States hear ‘wool,’ they think they’re itchy, heavy, and overwhelmed,” says Kris Cody, founder of Paka Apparel. “We’re changing that narrative by creating something that’s the opposite – soft, light and modern.” The Breathe line is made entirely of natural fibres, with an organic Pima cotton lining for extra softness and a royal alpaca exterior. As a certified B-Corp, Paka Apparel has been awarded “Best for the World” in 2021 and 2022 in recognition of its positive impact and innovation.

“While the material itself is all-natural, ethical and sustainable, the technology used to create this versatile fabric allows Paka to exist in markets where polyester is the industry standard,” Kris continues. “By fusing functionality and sustainability, Paka offers consumers in these markets an alternative and helps them make choices that are better for the well-being of the environment as well as their own.”

Jay Alvarrez Paka

Oahu-born model and super-influencer Jay Alvarrez in his Paka, with a ‘paca. Photo: Paka Clothing.

I’ve been wearing the Breathe men’s hoodie and joggers for a few weeks and I’m delighted with the active functionality built into these durable garments. The super-soft alpaca fiber really is the perfect all-around layer, able to keep me as warm as any cotton-poly sweatshirt and sweatpants while providing breathability for active use or when temperatures rise. . And for the travelers among us, these lightweight garments pack down to the size of three to four t-shirts, so you don’t have to sacrifice luggage space to stay comfortable.

To stay up to date with Paka Apparel’s ongoing mission with Leah Dawson to improve apparel manufacturing, follow them on Instagram and be sure to check out the Breathe line at pakaapparel.com.

About Oscar L. Smith

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