Tons of once-useful material going to waste

Sadly, the goat hair that the family used to sell is now discarded, just as in other areas of Greece, according to livestock breeders in Trikala and Evrytania. According to Trikala livestock breeder Dimitris Dimos, there is no longer any demand for it. In the past, in addition to its use in textile crafts, it was also used to make filters for the old-style olive presses and mixed with lime for use as construction material. Giorgos Darmos, head of the Laconia Livestock Breeders’ Association, said there are approximately 11.5 million adult goats and sheep in Greece. Each goat can produce up to 1-2 kilos of hair when shorn, sheep 3-4 kilos of wool. These days nearly all of it, apart from a very small quantity of sheep’s wool, ends up in landfills. In Turkey, the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) Cultural Heritage Program, part of an otherwise ecologically controversial project that calls for the inundation of large areas for dams, has also revived local handcrafts including woven goat hair with improved production techniques to make the goat hair silky and glossy. About 10,000 pieces are produced annually in the form of rugs, table coverings, and bedspreads. According to a report on the sustainability of goat and sheep production in northern Europe presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production, «although the production of goat hair is limited, or non-existent in some of the countries, there has been considerable interest in fine goat hair (cashmere, mohair, angora) production and marketing within this part of Europe.» If these two examples are anything to go by, the upper end of the market is the one to aim for. This would entail investing in the type of infrastructure necessary for luxury goods, with advanced production methods and marketing techniques.

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