Ecotip – Knit one, purl one and save the planet

Knit one, purl one and save the planet

by Pam Chatfield

If you like to knit or crochet, you probably have a selection of yarns made from a variety of fibres. It is worth pausing before purchasing yarn for that next project to consider its impact on our environment.

A major report by the International Wool Textiles Organisation confirms that microfibres, tiny pieces of plastic shed from synthetic fibres, are ending up in our oceans and food chain. Between 20% and 35% of all microplastics in the marine environment come from synthetic clothing and this is growing. Much of today’s commercial yarn is synthetic acrylic and its availability and low cost make it an attractive choice for knitters. But as a plastic, produced using fossil fuels, and releasing microfibres each time we wash our garments, it is not a good choice for the planet.

So, when facing the huge selection of yarns available, what sustainable and ethical alternatives are there? The options include wool from animals that are well cared for – small scale producers can often tell you about the way the animals are reared – and plant yarns, such as organic cotton, linen, bamboo and even banana yarn. Upcycled synthetic yarns are also available. These reduce, but do not eliminate, the microfibre problem.

By choosing to avoid synthetic yarns, we can enjoy our knitting or crocheting in the knowledge that we are not harming the environment.

Sources and further information International Wool Textiles Organisation report

Ethical yarn suppliers on-line: and