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Friday, December 9, 2016

Environmentally Sustainable Knitting

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This morning, I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) as usual, and they interviewed some folks in Mongolia about Cashmere/Kashmir Goats and how they are ruining their grasslands. "How your cashmere sweater is decimating Mongolia's grasslands."

Apparently, these goats are environmental disasters because: "Their sharp hooves cut through the soil surface, and their eating habits — voraciously ripping up plants by their roots — make it impossible for grass to thrive." (source is NPR article) This makes it impossible for other animals to survive and are changing ecosystem.

When I first started listening to this story, my ears perked up because I have knitted with cashmere mix yarn. But, perhaps I won't anymore. After I heard the story, I decided to do some research of my own on what types of yarn ARE environmentally sustainable.

So here is what I found.

1) Alpaca.
    Apparently, these awesome creatures are tough, they do not overeat, and they poop in the same spot (really? That is hilarious, I want to see that line!!).  I love alpaca, as a knitter it is a little fuzzy and can create a halo in your knitting. It is soft, hypoallergenic, and a great fiber to have mixed in with wool (Love Berroco Ultra Alpaca!!). So awesome stuff. Some links: Treehugger, Why Your Sweater should be alpaca, not cashmere.

2) Wool
    I am sooo sick of the campaign that PETA has against wool. While absolutely anyone who abuses an animal should be charged, there has been a lot of assumptions that abuse is normal for this world. Going to completely disagree here.
   Apparently, sheep are fantastic at keeping the carbon levels down in the environment. Wool is also recyclable (thrift store and rip that sweater out to repurpose!!) and it wears longer (the yarn) than other chemical (polyester) fibers.
  Wool biodegrades easily at the end of it's lifespan and it can be washed a lower temperature, which is good for the environment. This is all a win-win to me!
Sources: IWTO, Wikipedia.

3) Yak.
   Many of us have seen "new" (for us) fibers coming into the economy of late. Some folks, such as KnitMona, have started to carry indie-dyed yarn with yak in the make-up. I would love to get my hands on a skein, but have not as of yet, because some yak yarn is as soft as cashmere!!
  In looking up how environmentally sustainable Yak's are, I had to turn to an article that (though it did mention the wool of yak) was about meat primarily. But this article did mention that Yak's "eat a third of what cows eat.... and "forage for food without damaging". Sounds better than the goats as well.
Sources: Takepart, Wiki on Yak.
Well, I am pleased about what I found, and personally will be steering away from cashmere from now on. Definitely wish I was rich enough (ironically) to own an electric car and solar panels, but I can do what little I can to help the environment. Can I ask you to do the same?


Be Well!