Summertime is here, but if you're October dreaming in August and you love to knit, no doubt you're already dreaming of fuzzy fall sweaters and ordering some new patterns. But have you ever stopped to wonder how sustainable your knitting practices are?
Knitting is all about love. It's about crafting something by hand, investing hours of your time, just to make someone else — or yourself — feel special. The act of creation shouldn't be tainted with worries about the planet we share. Here are seven tips for how to make your knitting more eco-friendly so that you can keep those positive vibes flowing through your work.
1. Pop Some Tags
If you love to thrift shop and hit yard sales, you're already on your way to becoming a more eco-friendly knitter. You can reuse yarn, even from hideous sweaters available for pennies. And that's not all. When folks have estate sales, some contain homemade wares — both for reusing and for borrowing ideas for new projects.
2. Repurpose Old Items
Looking for the perfect color of yarn? You may need to look no further than your heirloom chest or your winter storage. Chances are, you have at least one item you no longer use, and the beauty of knitting means you can undo your work and reuse. Sure, you could drive these items to Goodwill, but doing so takes gas, increasing your carbon footprint.
Create a game out of making outdated items look new. You can add length to a too-small sweater, for example, or change the sleeve length to update an old look.
3. Use Eco-Friendly Needles
Are you still using plastic knitting needles? Researchers believe that if we continue discarding plastic at current rates, there will be more of the substance than fish in the ocean by the year 2050. Instead of plastic, opt for metal knitting needles, which last almost forever if they're well cared for. Or go with bamboo knitting needles. Bamboo grows quickly, making it an eco-friendly alternative.
4. Switch to a Sustainable Yarn
Synthetic yarn uses more — you guessed it! — plastic than natural yarns. Not only that, but many synthetic yarns fail to breathe well, leading to the "freezing without it, burning up with it," sweater paradox. Cotton proves superior, but growing this crop uses a ton of water and other resources.
Instead, opt for a blended yarn consisting of 52% cotton and 48% bamboo to improve sustainability. This yarn is more eco-friendly, and it feels incredibly soft, not at all like wool, which causes some wearers to itch unbearably. Plus, bamboo is 40% more absorbent than cotton alone, meaning clothing made from the blend will whisk sweat away from the skin's surface, increasing wearer comfort.
5. Buy in Bulk
In today's world of online shopping, you can order the supplies you need for your next project with a few mouse clicks. However, if you buy by piece, you create additional shipping, which carries a heavy environmental toll. Packaging makes up excess waste, which often ends up in landfills. Shipping over long distances creates heavy-duty carbon emissions.
Plan your knitting projects for the season in advance. Doing so will help you be more productive with your craft, and it will enable you to order bulk supplies at once instead of in multiple smaller orders, cutting down on shipping.
6. Join a Swap Circle
The advent of social media has created numerous online knitting groups for sharing ideas — and materials. In fact, groups like Meetup allow knitters to connect with other crafters in their local area.
Join as many groups as you can, and make new friends. This process will improve your mental health — friendships do that — and give you a community of fellow craft enthusiasts you can swap materials with. You can even pool your money for bulk supply orders and take advantage of discounted group prices!
7. Donate to a Good Cause
Finally, you can do good with your knitting skill. Recently, an 87-year-old woman knitted 75 hats to help homeless strangers. She plans to knit more to donate to local homeless shelters.
Take a cue from her lead. Even if you lack time to knit this prolifically, crafting a few items to keep in your car, as a part of goodie bags, for homeless people you encounter can change a life. Your work of art can truly become a work of love.
Making Your Knitting Sustainable
Art and sustainability are far from strangers. With a bit of ingenuity, you, too, can make your creations more kind to this little planet of ours.