Learn to Knit, Save the World

four green yarns on chopping board

That title’s a bit of a bold statement, isn’t it? But I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability this week, because at the weekend I’ll be teaching and selling at an event which is all about reducing, reusing and recycling.

I’ve especially been considering how to put a sustainable spin on the knitting workshop I’ll be running on Saturday morning. It’s down in the programme as “eco-knitting”, so what if someone asks me “how is this eco-knitting”?

But knitting really can play a part if you’re making an effort to live a more environmentally-friendly life… So really, most knitting counts as eco-knitting! Here are the top 5 ways that learning to knit can help you to change the way in which you brave the murky waters of the clothing industry – currently one of the biggest culprits in global pollution.

1. You can choose your materials.

four green yarns on chopping board
Photo by Surene Palvie on Pexels.com

The majority of high street knitwear is made of synthetic fibres, such as acrylic, nylon and polyester. These materials are basically plastic, so they are non-renewable and non-biodegradeable. Also, every time they’re washed, they release harmful microplastics into the water. When you knit, you get to decide what you use – plant fibres like cotton, or animal fibres like wool and alpaca, all of which have a lower environmental impact than man-made fibres. They also keep you warmer! Even reducing the percentage of synthetics in the clothes you knit, by using a good blended yarn, is a step in the right direction.

2. You can make what you really want.

positive black woman showing knitted sweater
Photo by Miriam Alonso on Pexels.com

Ever gone shopping for a new sweater, and ended up buying something you “sort of” liked, because it was all you could find? Knitting puts you in control of the size, colour and fit of whatever you make. With time, you’ll learn what suits you, and you can make everything in your favourite colour. And you’ll consume less – your wardrobe will contain only items that you absolutely love, rather than bursting with stuff you half like.

3. You recognise quality.

young african american woman choosing clothes in shop
Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

When you knit, you learn how much time and material goes into making something… And you realise that there’s no way a sweater that costs €15 can be well made or sustainable. A closer look often reveals dodgy seams or cheap fabric, and you might even think “I could make something nicer than this”! You’ll be quite content to leave fast fashion behind and embrace a slower approach to style.

4. You take better care of things.

a close up shot of a person holding a stack of folded knitted fabrics
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels.com

If you knitted something yourself, it becomes important to you. After all, you built it up stitch by stitch… Maybe it’s even your own design! You appreciate the effort you invested in creating it, and you want to keep it looking good. And you’d never dream of throwing it away after only wearing it a handful of times!

5. You have the power to mend and remake.

person in gray long sleeve shirt holding black pen
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Understanding how knitting works means you can fix your favourite garments when they become worn or torn. And if your handknitted sweater is too big, too small or you just fancy a change – rip it up and reknit the yarn into something new!

How about you? Any thoughts on how knitting (or making generally) helps us to reduce our impact on the Earth? (And yes, it’s entirely possible I might incorporate the best ideas into my lesson on Saturday 😉 )

Published by knitwithhelen

I'm a knitting teacher based in Dublin, Ireland. Check out my site to book classes, browse the online yarn store and see what's currently on my needles!

4 thoughts on “Learn to Knit, Save the World

    1. Now THERE’S a knitting question I haven’t been asked before! Patterns for knitted trousers generally are a rare beast, and any I have seen have been designed for little’uns. That doesn’t mean you can’t design your own though… Clearly there’s a gap in the market 😉

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