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 How green can my knitting be?
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miele
Chatty Knitter

USA
284 Posts

Posted - 09/13/2008 :  07:22:10 AM  Show Profile Send miele a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Like everyone, we are trying to be more "green" in our home and daily lives: using cloth and knitted bags and saying no to plastic, consolidating errands to save gas, walking when we can, etc...But how about my knitting? I usually use natural yarns but I have one sore point in my knitting, and that is charity knitting...specifically http://www.motherbearproject.org/.
I make a bear a week as I have done for a couple of years now. But the yarn has to be washable so I use acrylic mostly with some cotton and superwash leftovers sneaking in. So what is a knitter to do? Acrylic is a petroleum product, isn't it? And I hear that cotton is loaded with pesticides. But I certainly wear cotton that isn't organic. How far do we go with these decisions? I am going to price out superwash wool and organic cotton. I think my bear knitting costs are going to go through the roof.
Does anyone else consider the manufacturing process when they buy yarn?
Ellen

lucienh
Honorary Angel

919 Posts

Posted - 09/13/2008 :  07:31:25 AM  Show Profile Send lucienh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's all a balancing act. Yes, you're using petroleum-based products and doing all those other things in your life to save energy (and the earth). But one way or another, we all leave some sort of a footprint. You're making bears, which is better than buying the ones made by children in sweatshops; you're making them washable, which is better than disposable; and best of all, you're doing it mindfully and to help the world. YOur karma is definitely still good.

New blog, not about knitting, but I bet it keeps sneaking in: http://greenbananascancerblog.blogspot.com/
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kdcrowley
Permanent Resident

USA
4773 Posts

Posted - 09/13/2008 :  10:42:57 AM  Show Profile  Visit kdcrowley's Homepage Send kdcrowley a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I also think that you have to do what is reasonable in terms of effort. You can recycle yarn by unknitting sweaters past their life, you can go with the natural fibers (organic cotton yarn is more readily available now and there are other fibers that are good too, such as bamboo, tencel, rayon, soy, etc.), you can buy locally from local producers which both stimulates local economy and eliminates shipping from the supply chain, and any number of other things.

Yes, you're right, acrylic is a petroleum product, which should be seeing a price increase if not already. It also has a very expensive dye process in terms of the environment. And it's used mass-produced which presents other issues, such as shipping, middle men etc etc.

Ultimately, do what you can to be able to look in the mirror each morning, be aware of the costs from cradle to cradle and look for new opportunities to be better. That's all any of us can do. As for karma, well i think intent also enters into that equation.

Kelley
Check out my solar-dyed yarns at http://www.ceallachdyes.com
and my blog at http://ceallachknits.blogspot.com
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scraffan
Permanent Resident

1844 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  07:16:18 AM  Show Profile Send scraffan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Another way to look at it, yes the yarn is acrylic, not exactly the best thing for the enviroment, but you can use 1 or two pairs of needles to make how many bears?
If you use stitch markers they can be used over and over again.
One pair of sciccors can cut how pieces of yarn?

Some times you need to look at everything involved with a project and not just the yarn itself.


I also agree with the person who says it is better to make the bears yoursef then from buying them in the store.

There are so many ways of looking at this...
Karen
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miele
Chatty Knitter

USA
284 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  10:32:04 AM  Show Profile Send miele a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thnak you so much for all the great responses. You all are right, it is all a balancing act! I will keep on the lookout for sales on "greener" options but I won't feel guilty about the acrylic that I use.
Ellen
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Wen
Permanent Resident

Australia
3244 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  7:13:44 PM  Show Profile  Visit Wen's Homepage Send Wen a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Another point is the footprint on the manufacture of the natural alternative. Wool may be grown in Australia, flown to China for processing, then off to Turkey or Italy for spinning and treating to be machine washable before being flown to the US and driven to the wholesaler and eventually the LYS.

The carbon footprint on a ball of locally manufactured acrylic or commercially produced machine washable wool? I have no idea which would end up smaller.

Wen

2008 stats: 17 FO, 11 WIP, 2 frogpond.
http://www.flickr.com/groups/kr_members/
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eepster
Seriously Hooked

USA
704 Posts

Posted - 09/14/2008 :  10:55:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit eepster's Homepage Send eepster a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There are some acrylic yarns made from recycled materials.

{o,o}
./)_)
.." "
Jen
http://www.buddhabellyart.com/
http://www.cafepress.com/buddhabellyart
http://www.cafepress.com/4theloveofyarn
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fiddlerbird555
Permanent Resident

USA
1429 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2008 :  3:40:25 PM  Show Profile Send fiddlerbird555 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You know, no matter HOW "not-green" the production of a given fiber is, creating something warm and reusable is more green than burning excessive amounts of fossil fuels to get the same comfort levels.

____________________________________________________

I can go loopy, or I can knit. Your choice.
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Slipped Stitch
Warming Up

USA
96 Posts

Posted - 09/15/2008 :  8:47:04 PM  Show Profile Send Slipped Stitch a Private Message  Reply with Quote
isn't it a question of how far you are willing to go? ( to really put your money where your heart is )?
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RobA
Permanent Resident

2373 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2008 :  08:54:52 AM  Show Profile  Visit RobA's Homepage Send RobA a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In response to Slipped Stitch -- yes, but it is also a matter of defining "green." I have been pretty annoyed by the marketing of soy, corn, and other highly processed materials as "green." As I learned when I read Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, the agriculture industry in the US uses enormous amounts of oil to grow corn. Nothing green about that. Locally made yarn from organically farmed sheep might be the closest we get to green yarn. For most folks in industrialized countries, everything we use, wear or eat is part of the whole industrialized structure. (We can try to eat local food -- but until last March I lived in central Pennsylvania and was convinced most folks who are "eating locally" year round lived in California!) I focus on recycling and buying recycled goods, when I can, and buying local produce, when I can. And helping to keep folks warm by knitting for charities that accept wool items!

Rob http://roberta.typepad.com/robknits/
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lella
Permanent Resident

9714 Posts

Posted - 09/16/2008 :  10:29:32 AM  Show Profile Send lella a Private Message  Reply with Quote
eepster, yes, there are yarns, outdoor furniture, and fabrics (polartec) that are made from re-cycled plastics.

Ellen, I agree with Rob, that you do as best you can and stay aware of all areas, as you seem to be doing, and reduce that carbon footprint as much as possible. The yarn you are using has to be the type you are using, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

The mother bear project is a terrific charity and you could easily re use yarns for it. They wouldn't mind at all, as long as it was clean and sturdy. Thanks for making your bears for the project!

Pics at Flickr
Zippiknits

The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.
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