In recent years, knitting has seen an explosive resurgence in interest. The new generation of knitters brings with it growing awareness of the environmental impacts of their hobbies, and interest in eco-friendly yarns and fibers is one the rise.
Why Choose Eco-Friendly Yarn?
Many of the most common types of yarn used today, including cotton, acrylic, and wool, have profound environmental impacts:
Acrylic is a petroleum product, carrying with it the high environmental costs of petroleum production. These include large scale disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez oil spills and the “Rainforest Chernobyl” catastrophe in Ecuador, as well as the estimated 6,100 barrels of oil lost annually in small-scale spills.
Cotton is one of the most chemical-intensive crops in the world, as well as one of the thirstiest. Despite its high irrigation needs, it is often grown in semi-arid regions. Irrigation for cotton fields in Central Asia is one of the primary causes of the destruction of the Aral Sea, which has devastated local ecosystems and economies.
Wool may undergo considerable processing before spinning, including toxic chemical bleaches and cleaning agents. The sheep may also be subjected to insecticide dips before shearing that are harmful to the sheep, their human handlers, ad their environment. Depending on the farm, some sheep are also subjected to the brutal practice of “mulesing” as a form of pest control.
5 Beautiful Eco-Friendly Yarns for Green Knitting Projects
Skinny Cotton from Blue Sky Alpacas is a 100% organic cotton yarn that offers all the benefits of conventional cotton yarn without the environmental impacts. The yarn is color grown in a variety of beautiful colors inspired by the natural world, including blackberry, bluebell, mallard, pear, cherry, and coffee.
Jewel Classic Colored Organic Wool Yarn from NearSea Naturals is spun from 100% organic merino wool, which is raised without the use of insecticide dips or other chemicals or antibiotics and processed without the use of harsh bleaches, dyes, or cleaning agents. The vibrant jewel tones will delight you, while the yarn’s softness ad manageability will be a joy to work with.
For a truly unique yarn, consider Lhasa Recycled Silk Yarn from Zanzibar Tribal Art. The yarn is handspun from silk remnants from the sari factories of India, so no two skeins are ever exactly alike. In addition to using recycled silk, these brilliantly colored yarns are produced by female artisans from Nepal who have the opportunity to receive a fair living wage for their work. The Lhasa yarn is the smoothest and softest of Zanzibar’s recycled silk yarns, and is not as bulky or uneven as recycled silk yarns sometimes are.
Another unique eco-friendly yarn is Banana Silk Yarn (shown above) from The Wool Peddlar. Banana silk yarn is made from the aged outer bark of banana trees. Harvesting it does not hurt the tree, and it is a completely renewable resource. The strong fibers from the bark are handspun into a slightly fuzzy yarn with a natural glossy sheen. It is then dyed into a variety of bright colors with eco-friendly natural dyes.
Although bamboo is better known as a source of knitting needles than yarn, bamboo yarns have been attracting a lot of attention recently for their green benefits. Bamboo is one of the world’s most renewable resources and it produces a silky soft, slightly shiny yarn with great drape. Be Sweet Bamboo Yarn comes in a choice of 70 attractive, hand-dyed colors, and is perfect for babywear.