Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Living Green(er)

I've lately been making more of an effort than ever before to live a little greener. Maybe it's having recently read Al Gore's book, or maybe it's noticing the changes in weather patterns, or maybe it's just maturity. I'm not sure, but when I hear people complain about how "it's getting hotter every summer", I reply "that's global warming my friend". And when I hear my people back in Minnesota talk about how "it never snows anymore", my reply is again "that's global warming my friend". And the more I say it, the more I am reminded to live a little greener.

I've been a vegetarian for almost 20 years, mostly because I have long been aware of the huge negative impact a meat based diet has on the environment. The livestock industry is a huge offender in terms of water usage, water pollution, and energy consumption. I recently read in the Austin Environmental Directory 2006 that scientist David Pimental calculated that it takes 1/2 as much energy to produced a vegetarian diet as a meat based one, the difference is enough to drive every passenger car in the US for 3,300 miles. Some other interesting facts - the energy to produce one hamburger is enough to run a 100watt light bulb for 18 hours, and the energy for one hamburger each day for a year is enough to power a refrigerator for 18 months.

Lately in addition to making meat-free choices, I've also been making an effort to prioritize some other considerations while at the grocery store. Priority number one - buy local whenever I can, most of our food travels some 1500 miles before we consume it, and that's just too far. Priority number two -buy organic, food that's grown clean means cleaner soil and cleaner water. Priority number three - buy in bulk, and minimize packaging. This includes reusing bags, and containers. After all, all that packaging uses energy to produce and increases the amount of waste we produce.

I'm also biking more. Now that I have moved from Minnesota to Texas I can ride my bike year round. And I'm lucky enough to live in Austin, a city that's very bicycle friendly providing bike lanes, and places to park. I recently got a more practical bike for these purposes, I had a little racing bike, I now have more of a hybrid that I outfitted with a rack and a trunk pack which makes it possible for me to take the bike to yoga, the food co-op, the post office, and more. In fact the only thing I can't figure out how to do is the dog food run, the mutts eat a lot of food. The boyfriend has even started commuting to work via bicycle.

So what does all this have to do with a blog about crafting and knitting? Well, for starters becoming increasingly more aware of the things I can do to be less of a burden on my world makes for some creative decision making: what route can I take to make it to my destination on the bike? What substitutions can I make to a recipe in order to buy local and organic? How can I consume less packaging? You get the idea, and the more you use your creative muscle the stronger it becomes.

I also knit green as much as I can. I use natural fibers pretty much exclusively, and natural fibers are renewable resources. Yep, even the animal based ones. One a my favorite fibers recently is bamboo, a plant that grows especially fast, making it especially environmentally sustainable. There are also organic cottons, and organic wools available on the market. And again, supporting organic agriculture supports a more earth friendly economy.

I also use recycled fibers. A few posts back I talked about 2nd Time Cotton, a yarn made from the recycled waste from the textiles industry. And there's lots of other choices for recycled fibers on the market including, wool, silk, and cotton. On a smaller scale of recycling (but no less important) there's reclaimed yarn from old sweaters, and reclaimed felting from old wool.

And finally there's buying from your LYS, buying locally when it comes to yarn is just as important as buying locally grown food. I admit I don't do it all the time, there are some great deals to be had on the Internet, and some really beautiful hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns I buy from craftspeople via Etsy. But I've resolved to make an effort to visit my LYS more often, and shop the Internet less. It reduces the trips the UPS truck makes, it supports a local independent business woman, which is also a good thing, and it definitely reduces packaging.

It may seem like an insignificant effort, but I don't believe it is. We all know the world of knitters is a powerful force, capable of real change and real impact. Think of the knitting for peace movements, and the Charity knitting movements. Powerful indeed. What if those efforts included being kinder to our planet?

We can all find ways, small simple ways, to reduce our impact on the planet, and craft a little greener, knit a little greener, and live a little greener. Think about it, and post your ideas, I for one would love to hear them.



  1. Look at you, you green maniac!!! Want to go to Genuine Joe's next week? My inlaws are in town and will watch the boys, so I can escape!!


  2. Amen sister! I recommend Barbara Kingsolver's new novel about "locavore" eating and sustainable agriculture for more inspirational green writings. And I have been tagged and thought I would tag you (I bet you have some interesting gems to leave).
    DD www.dosdulces.blogspot.com
    • Start with 7 random facts/habits about yourself
    • People who are tagged have to write their 7 things on their blog
    • Then choose another 7 people to get tagged and list their names
    • Don’t forget to leave them a comment to tell them they have been tagged and to read your blog