Monday, February 14, 2011

There's A Lot of Gray in Being Green - Part One

What types of questions do you ask yourself when perusing the yarns at your LYS, big box or online store?

One of my goals for my crocheting business is to be ecofriendly, from start to finish.  After all, I decided to start this journey because I thought I could use my skills to make a difference selling reusable, locally created market bags at my weekly farmer's market to cut down on the use of plastic bags. 
Well, I'm finding that there are many gray areas along the way, as I ask myself more and more questions!

My First Question:  What is the yarn I'm using made from?
Fortunately, over the last few years, many larger yarn producers are jumping on the recycled and renewable source bandwagon.  I'm finding acrylic yarns made with up to 30% post-consumer recycled material and cottons made with up to 75% recycled cotton at my local big-box craft store, for example.  Organic cottons and yarns made with renewable fibers, such as bamboo, milk byproducts, and soy, are also becoming more generally available.  Unfortunately, organic yarns and yarns made from recycled and renewable materials tend to be notably more expensive than the more mass-produced yarns, and are stocked in relatively small quantities and limited colors.  I am able to find some local sources of wonderful alpaca and wool fiber in my area, however these are luxury yarns due to their cost, and none of them are organically grown or processed.  Of course, online sources increase the types of yarns and color variety available to us crocheters and knitters at multiple price points, but then I must consider...

Second Question:  How far must it travel to get to me?
How much jet fuel, gasoline, diesel fuel and electricity does it take to transport the yarn to my location?  I've made the decision, for the most part, to limit my purchases to yarns produced in the eastern United States and Canada.  Occasionally,  I will order yarn from further away in the U.S. or Canada if it has been repurposed or is made from a majority of recycled or ecofriendly materials.  This really limits me quite a lot, because an overwhelming majority of the yarn in any craft store has either been totally produced, or the raw material has been imported from, far distant lands (Turkey and Peru come to mind, but there are many others).

To be continued...


  1. Price and poor color choice come to mind first when thinking about ecofriendly yarns. Why does ecofriendly have to equal bland browns, gray creams and dirty yellows and oranges? Maybe if the reusable bag was an eye-popping green people wouldn't forget it.

    P.S. You might try to make a deal with the farmers' market as a whole where people use the bags and get a discount everywhere. Just a thought and keep fighting the good fight!

  2. Good post, keep them coming. I like the thought that you're considering the other related costs too.

  3. Kokomo - that's a great idea! I'm going to look into it, for sure.