Is knitting sustainable?

We’re all aiming for more sustainability in our lives. And knitting your own garments seems a good place to start. But before you pick up that ball of DK yarn, are you genuinely reducing your carbon footprint? The answer is a qualified yes. Here’s some practical advice on selecting earth-friendly materials when you next pick up your needles.

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What is sustainability?

Sustainability, carbon footprints and environmental awareness are big buzzwords, but what does it mean to make sustainable choices? By considering the environment and making ethical decisions about how we live, eat and pursue our pastimes, we can shape a secure, liveable future for everyone.

So, when you’ve chosen your next knitting project, try picking out a sustainable Aran or DK Yarn with minimal environmental impact.

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What yarns should I choose?

For slow fashion addicts, wool offers the ultimate in sustainability. It’s grown and harvested naturally, is durable and outlives other fibres. It’s biodegradable and doesn’t contribute to microplastic pollution like artificial fibres. Sheep even lock the carbon from the plants they eat in their wool, making it the ultimate carbon-neutral choice.

Bamboo is another sustainable fibre worth considering if you’re vegan or allergic to wool. Biodegradable and anti-allergenic, it’s a rapid-growing crop that needs little water or pesticides. However, be aware that bamboo requires intensive processing, and some yarns are produced using chemicals.

Cotton has a notorious reputation for being a thirsty crop that relies on pesticides. Eco-farmed cotton is a more sustainable choice, but it still requires lots of water to produce a decent crop. If you love the feel of cotton, look out for yarn produced organically using rainwater irrigation.

How can I find sustainable yarns?

To green up your next knitting project, start by buying locally. The fewer miles your yarn has travelled, the better. Your supplier should be able to answer any questions on traceability and provenance. Buying from a reputable brand is one way to guarantee that your knitting yarn is ethical and sustainable.

Getting the balance right isn’t always easy. But a woollen DK yarn is about as sustainable as it gets for your next project.