"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm Not an All Out Tree Hugger, But. . .

I care about the environment.  I think before I throw away things that may be reused or recycled.  I've been leaning toward cotton yarns lately because the are not quite as harmful to the environment as the acrylics I've used for so many years.  True, many pieces I've made will last so long that they won't contribute to landfill issues for quite some time BUT the manufacturing of synthetic fibers is another story.

Unfortunately, your basic, everyday cotton yarn is no solution.  Of all natural fibers, cotton is the one that takes the harshest toll on the land.  It requires more fertilizer, more water, and more maintenance than most crops (read more here) and the manufacturing of cotton garments is no simple process (read more here).  That said, cotton yarn fits my budget and is still a step better than synthetic.  More eco-friendly organic cottons are still affordable, but they cost two to three times as much as my favorite go-to cotton, Lily Sugar 'n Cream.

So, if I'm going to double, or even triple, my budget to go green, why not truly embrace the program and drop the cotton altogether?  Bamboo and hemp are both lower impact and renewable, so are soy and wool but I'm allergic to those two and I'm not about to go shopping for non-latex gloves to wear while I crochet.  (Did I mention I'm allergic to latex too?)  How about alpaca?  Supposedly, organic wool doesn't affect many people with wool allergies AND wool would be a better replacement for the acrylic I've used for so long since it's got more loft to it than cotton.  Now there's something to think about.  Let's face it, a cotton afghan is not going to be as warm as wool or even acrylic and any stuffed toys I've crocheted from cotton simply haven't held up as well as their acrylic counterparts.

Finally, as I sit here and contemplate the great mysteries of the universe, I suppose I've found a new adventure:  I resolve to try a few new things in my craft.  I will try bamboo and/or hemp for a few household projects such as dish scrubbies and washcloths and I will try wool for my next amigurumi, or pillow, or both.

Here are two more articles that helped me write this post:
World Wildlife Fund
Talk to me about your favorite yarns.  Do you have a favorite "green" alternative?  I'd love to hear from anyone who can shed more light on the subject or who would simply like to offer an opinion.


  1. I never thought about the environmental impact of making yarn. Now I have a whole new thing to think about! Thanks! I love that you are going green, we are pretty green in our house too!

  2. Cotton is by far my favourite fiber to work with. However, regarding more eco-friendly options bamboo is okay (but can often by slippery) and I also enjoy working with corn fiber. I believe it's made with the by-products of corn, like the husk, etc and feels fairly similar to cotton.

    One of my friends is dedicated to crafting with recycled and reclaimed materials. You should check out her blog at www.laughingpurplegoldfish.com

  3. @Megan--Going green around the house has become so easy thanks to local recycling programs. A few simple changes in routine can have such impact on the environment, so why not make them, right?

    As a crafter, I've always eeked every tiny bit of usefulness out of my supplies such as using that last six inches of yarn to hold the tag for the washing instructions. Or printing the washing instructions on the back of my business cards rather than using separate tags.

    I love the idea of corn yarn, but it's way out of my price range. That's part of the reason I'm so torn in my craft. I can get a 71g/120yd ball of Lily 100% cotton yarn for $1.00 (US) when it's on sale at Michael's. Unfortunately, that gives me zero motivation to spend $13.35 for 100g/250yds of 100% bamboo or $7.95 for 50g/120yds of 100% corn fiber. They are both beautiful alternatives and I will consider using corn for a special project if only because the examples I found in my research are just stunning. BTW, the best price I found for organic cotton was $4.95 for a 50g/82yd ball from Lion Brand. Also, I found great prices in the bargain bin here: http://www.knitpicks.com/cfyarns/yarn_list.cfm?ID=30010207&media=PPCYARN&medid=PPCYARN&s_kwcid=TC|10280|wool%20yarn||S||6353419869&gclid=CN_qzoPTjqMCFclL5QodB3sodQ&utm_source=media&utm_medium=marketing&utm_campaign=PPCYARN which makes wool a TERRIFIC alternative to acrylic. I want to try at least one project with wool to see how my hands react. Hopefully it won't be any worse than acrylic (yeah, I'm allergic to acrylic, all plastics for that matter).

    @AuntieElle--Thanks for the tip and for the info. I check out Laughing Purple Goldfish every so often. Her designs are beautiful.