Being Eco-friendly isn’t just about making alternative ‘Green’ planet friendly buying choices. It’s about being aware of what things are made from, what happens to them when they’re no longer useful, making less waste, consuming less (of everything), reducing unnecessary plastic and making more conscious choices in what we buy and how we live.
Most of us are aware of everyday stuff like reusing grocery bags, turning off the lights, the tap etc and many of us are actively reducing all plastic in our lives. I’ve put this list of ideas together to help you if you want to be a more eco-friendly crocheter/knitter. Please don’t let it guilt trip you! I want to help give you ideas. Even the smallest thing makes a difference, and will make you feel good, no need for going all out on buying lots of new eco yarns, it’s much easier than you think to be more eco-friendly when you crochet or knit. Here we go:
1. Make products that are re-usable and replace something common that’s disposable. Think bags, bathroom products, homewares, cloths, clothing etc.
2. Make products that have a use and longevity. Slow fashion is a buzz word right now. If you make yourself a lovely new tunic, choose your fav colour, not the colour that’s in fashion this year, so you’ll want to wear it year round and for years to come. To make that possible choose a yarn that won’t fuzz up and look awful after a few months of wear, step away from the cheap acrylic on clothing and choose non-pilling or cotton (organic) and other plant based yarns instead.
That’s not to say fun novelty makes are a no-no, they can be eco-friendly too if you consider your materials, or just use up that cheap acrylic, it’s much better used if you already have it, than going to waste.
3. Use up scrap yarns. There’s always a bit left when you finish a project. Keep all the same type of yarn scraps together and use them up on colourful makes. There’s always posts and patterns in the craft world for using up scraps to inspire you. I’ve made a board on Pinterest to give you some ideas (if you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, I take great care not to pin patterns from spam and scraper sites!). I’ll keep adding to this Scrap Busting board when I see more helpful patterns for you.
4. Reuse the yarn from those unfinished frogged projects you’ve stashed away in the back of the cupboard! Sit down with your fav beverage and binge watch with your feet up while you unravel and rewind the yarn up for a new project. It’s immensely satisfying.
5. Try to make with a purpose in mind. It’s easy to get carried away with making for the sake of making especially as we really want to make EVERYTHING! But then we end up with all the stuff we’ve made and have to try and sell it or give it away to clear some space. But what happens to it, did they really want it? Use it? or is it unloved in someone’s cupboard, or worse has it ended up in the bin!!! Arrrgh I can’t bear that thought, our talent and time is too precious for that.
6. Resist that bargain bin! Plan your projects and only buy for them, preferably when it’s on sale so you get much more for your money. Subscribe to your fav yarn shops/sellers by email so you don’t miss their sales. Subscribe to my list too, I keep a look out for eco-friendly deals and give you a heads up.
7. Clearout your stash. Be honest about your stash, are there any yarns (needles, hooks etc), there that you don’t like or know you’ll never use? Why not swap them out with another crafter or do a de-stash sale at your local craft fair or on ebay? There are loads of de-stash Facebook groups, you might even find a local one. You may also have a local group who knits or crochets for charity who would be very grateful for your unloved yarns etc. Just think of all the space you’d free up!
8. When you do need to buy yarn or you just need a shopping fix (yarn shopping is THE best!) Consider eco-friendly yarn. You can make anything eco-friendly if you choose the right yarn, one that’s both ideal for the job and has ‘green’ credentials. I don’t include non organic cotton and wool here, despite popular belief, while they are natural, they are NOT eco-friendly! If you didn’t know that, I’m sorry to be the messenger of bad news, I promise I will do a post on it soon to explain why. But for now, if you want to, choose recycled, organic, or sustainable fibres (like eg hemp, bamboo, tencel, seaweed), naturally dyed, or locally produced wools instead. LoveCrafts have quite a few eco-friendly options now and Etsy has a huge amount of choice from smaller sellers and Indie dyers/spinners.
For inspiration on recycled yarns see my post The Definitive (ish) List of Recycled Yarns.
9. If you sell your products, it’s a good idea to think about your packaging. You could aim to use recycled packaging or go plastic free and switch to both paper based mailers and paper tape when you need to buy new supplies. This is a growing market with huge demand as the movement for plastic reduction grows, so good value plastic free products are getting easier to find. Being plastic free is also a huge selling point that buyers are looking for. If you like to use clear plastic wrapping at craft fairs etc to keep your makes clean, then you can get clear Cellulose bags that are vegetable based and biodegradable and do the same job (be sure to mention it’s not plastic to customers). My friend Taz at Xoandquin sells a great range of these.
For an alternative to plastic postage bags, I really like these postage boxes (found on Amazon, for link just click photo). They’re helpful in stopping the contents from moving in transit, reducing the risk of damage and preventing a dreaded extra postage charge at the customer end because it’s bulked up on one side so now isn’t in the same postage category (yes I’ve experienced this!)
10. My last thing to mention is a bit of a tough one. It’s last on the list because it’s a thought provoker, but please don’t feel stressed over it! Consider the ‘life cycle’ for everything you make (and perhaps buy). Are the materials already recycled? Can it be recycled in future? Is it biodegradable? Will it end up in landfill at the end of its useful life? How do I dispose of it? By the time our wonderful makes reach the end of their useful lives, hopefully the world will be different, with vastly improved recycling capabilities or with new methods for dealing with rubbish. But the decisions we make today can take a lot of the pressure off the future. This one consideration changed my making and buying decisions, not just for crafts but for everything in my life.
I hope there are some helpful and new things to think about here, you’re probably already doing lots of them and lets celebrate because little changes by lots of us means together we are making a huge difference.
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Thanks for these tips, love the preface that it wasn’t about guilt tripping 👌😊
Hi Kellie, you’re very welcome. It’s such an emotive subject isn’t it? It’s very easy to upset someone who doesn’t want to hear it, but I so much want to help with encouragement, ideas and support, I hope that always comes across well from me.