Monday, June 1, 2009

Ecofriendly Yarns: Buyer Beware

As the name implies, ecofriendly yarn is good for mother earth. Unlike synthetic fiber, ecofriendly yarn is made from natural fibers like wool, cotton, bamboo or soy. Synthetic fiber, like most acrylic yarn, is derived from by-products of the petroleum industry. If you think you are being green by using natural fibers for your knitting or crocheting, think again. Natural fibers are not necessarily ecofriendly. To be ecofriendly, your yarn must come from a sustainable source and be grown or harvested in a way that does not damage the earth.

Organic yarns are ecofriendly as they are produced according to industry standards which require sustainable green practices in their production.

Organic wool must be harvested from animals that are hormone free and fed on organic feed. These animals must not be dipped in insecticides to rid them of pests or be crowded on over-grazed pastures.

In 2005, Canada and the United States produced 19, 152 pounds of organic wool. Think of all the sweaters you could knit!

Organic cotton is grown without the use of earth damaging chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. These growing practices leave the soil nutrient rich and water resources uncontaminated. India produces about half of the world's organic cotton. Syria, Turkey and China are also large producers.

Bamboo and soy yarns are the newer entrants into the world of ecofriendly fibers. The bamboo plant is known for its rapid growth after harvest which lessens the need for fertilizers and pesticides. However, the harvesting of bamboo is not regulated and the process of turning it into fiber uses harsh chemicals.

Soy yarn is produced from the waste products of tofu making which is why it is seen as an ecofriendly yarn. However, there are environmental issues with the production of soybeans.

Then there is the issue of the dyes used to color these yarns. Buy yarns in the color naturally produced by the the animal or the plant. You may also buy yarns dyed with environmentally friendly dyes.

Yes, these ecofriendly yarns are more expensive and may be seen as a luxury. But, choosing wisely for your yarn stash helps mother earth. Happy yarn shopping.


Little Dickens Designs said...

Thanks for the info. I had no idea about the bamboo or soybeans.

Pattie said...

Thank for sharing :)
Where would you find bamboo yarn??

Allison said...


Bamboo yarn is widely available from well known yarn manufacturers like Patons, Bernat and Coats. Coats makes Moda Dea Bamboo wool which I believe is available through K-mart in the U.S.

Pattie said...

Oh! Thank you :)