I’m vegan since 2018, and not only diet wise but more as a lifestyle. When I started crocheting in July 2020 I wanted to make sure I would not contribute either to any animal exploitation so I decided all the yarn I would use would not be coming from animal fibres.
The yarn I usually use is acrylic or cotton, but being conscious about the plastic that acrylic yarn contains now I’ve started to try and find second hand acrylic yarn in charity shops and I must confess, I’m getting addicted to it!!
Second hand yarn finds make me feel exited as you don’t know what you’re going to find and also brings me new ideas of what to make with the unexpected yarn I get!
Hope you have a lovely Sunday evening!
I understand why you’re attempting to avoid animal fibres in your yarn choices, but hear me out. The issue with acrylic isn’t just that it’s 100% plastic, but when you wash it you’re releasing microplastics into the water system which can’t be caught by filters. As a result end up not only in the ocean and inside of fish, but in our drinking water as the plastics are so microscopic it can’t be 100% removed, microplastics have been found in human waste which is terrifying to me.
Animal fibres aren’t always bad, you can still use them. Organisations such as PETA have spread misinformation regarding the harvesting of wool, it doesn’t harm the animal like they claim and in fact if we don’t sheer them it can kill them. Because of the way we have bred and cultivated sheep we have to sheer them of their wool for their own sake. The sheep aren’t going away because the animal industry is never going to go away, as nice as it would be if it would. So the way I look at it is it’s better we use the materials rather than wasting them and causing more waste.
There’s ways you can get animal fibres without actively giving money to harmful industries, a big one is doing what you’re already doing with acrylic but instead you can look at the knitted items in the second hand stores and learn to unravel them and use them regardless of fibre. Another is to seek out small independent yarn sellers and actively refuse to use big companies if it’s within your budget. Independent spinners and dyers almost always have information available on where and how they source their fibres as well as what kinds of dyes they use, and if they don’t they rarely refuse to give you the information if you contact them.
Cotton is also a very harmful industry as it not only uses a large amount of water, but most cotton is farmed using slave and child labour so it’s also not a perfect substation.
It’s tricky to figure out how to balance environmentalism and animal exploitation in daily life as it’s not just about the animals, humans are exploited too. I try my best to avoid any animal product but it’s not easy or cheap. The biggest thing we can do is vote with our money by not using big companies and using small independent companies that are open and transparent about how they get their materials. Capitalism is the root of all these issues and the only way we can truly combat it is by giving big capitalism the middle finger.
Extra note: If you do decide to get into unravelling knitted objects second hand, remember to wash it before, take your time and then wash it again after.
Thank you for taking your time to reply, I really appreciate it.
As for myself I’m never going to contribute to anything that comes from animals as I believe animals are not here to serve us humans but to be loved and the hair they grow is not for me to use, there are lovely sanctuaries that remove their wool in an ethical way and don’t make profit out of it, but again as a personal choice I will never use anything that comes from animals.
Regarding the issue with the water that cotton needs I will debate that animal farming contributes in unmeasurable amounts more than any other industry to the use of water to be fed and kept alive.
About the micro plastics I will say you’re completely right and it’s frightening, but actually the fishing industry takes the majority of the problem with water plastic in the oceans, I highly recommend the documentary ‘Seaspiracy’ in Netflix, is very educational.
I respect everyone using the yarn the consider is best for them, but I am really happy with being vegan and not wanting to use any animal fibre
Buying secondhand animal fibre isn’t contributing to the company, they don’t get the money from the repurchase and don’t even know it’s being rebought and it’s better to use what’s already out there than use fossil fuels to make plastic which is destroying the planet and never goes away.
As fibre crafters (including crochet, knitting, sewing ect) the best things we can do is;
- Buy secondhand (ideally from charity based secondhand stores or direct from someone selling something such as on facebook marketplace)
- Not buy things without a plan in mind for it (so not hoarding supplies and never touching them)
- Not buying from big companies when possible
- Not touching fast fashion unless you absolutely need something and can’t find it secondhand or need it quick (like a job interview outfit and don’t have anything suitable already)
- Repair things (personally I think the ‘visible mending’ movement is cool)
- For anyone reading this who does use wool, avoid superwash.
But most importantly remember that not everyone can do everything, such as my friend with a condition that makes her skin super sensitive and most acrylic make her skin get all messed up so she’s limited on what she can use.
A YouTuber I used to watch (I just lost interest in her content, nothing wrong with her she’s great) says “Remember that you can’t do all the good the world needs, but the world needs all the good you can do,” and I’ve adopted that saying into my life.
Not super related: Have you used bamboo yarn yet? I haven’t but I have sensory issues due to my autism and am curious if it’s soft or not, I’ve used a hemp/cotton blend but didn’t like the way it felt.
this is a lottle bit random but i just read youre reply and was wondering if its better to use acrylic yarn or cotton yarn, seen as both have bad and good qualities?
I’d say cotton is the better of the two evils, ideally organic cotton over the overly processed cotton. Acrylic is plastic and should be avoided by default as it will never breakdown into natural material like cotton will, it will release microplastics into the water system that can’t be taken out by the filtration process whenever it’s washed which ends up inside of not only animals but inside of us (we’ve found microplastics in human faecal matter). When acrylic breaks down it becomes microplastics and never leaves, when cotton breaks down it becomes dirt once more.
With cotton you should ideally try to seek out organic cotton that has been sustainably farmed and ethically harvested, this can mean it can be more expensive but the trade off is you’re doing a little less harm to people and the planet. Most sustainable and ethical companies will have a way to see where and how they get their resources, this includes yarn companies. Hope my rambling was at least a little helpful.
My favorite trips are to the second hand yarn stores! The one near me gives you a large bag and you can fill it with as much yarn as you want for $15. It is so much fun filling the bag and thinking of things to make with all the yarn that I wouldn’t have typically bought otherwise. And thanks for your and the rest of the commenters insights! A lot of this stuff I have never thought about before and now I will be more cautious and think about my purchases
In my area the secondhand stores rarely have yarn due to the incredibly limited small space they have for the shop floor and storage. I always get jealous when I see all the options people in other countries and other parts of the UK have. Due to the limited space they dispose of a lot of stuff that they decide won’t sell as well, which sadly tends to be any and all crafting supplies because they don’t know if there’s enough crafters in the area that would buy them since they won’t sell them to find out, it’s so irritating.