Thursday, April 17, 2008

Organic, my ass.

(I have decided to do the VK review in two parts, because this stage is more a massive rant than a review. Patterns tonight or tomorrow. Plus I've got a sinus infection and am pretty incoherent at the moment. And enraged.)

See that on the cover? Organic Knitting? I should have known right there. But I bought the damn magazine anyway. There may be a day I quit doing these reviews, because I'm sick to fucking death of paying such idiotic prices for shit like this.

Anyway.

Organic knitting is a myth, to begin with. Technically anything with a carbon molecule is organic, so the term has no real meaning. As for the idea of 'green' or environmentally friendly knitting, while it's certainly possible, this obsession with plant fibers as eco-friendly is just bullshit. Even organic cotton uses a lot of power for processing, and these 'new' fibers, like bamboo, sea silk, viscose (that one's not too new), soy, etc? They're some of the worst polluters in the fiber world, along with industrially grown cotton. The rayon family of fibers all require an unholy, toxic soup to break down the cellulose during the processing. (Think paper mills in the fifties, before the EPA made them clean up; same general process and mess. It's really that bad.) Cotton of course uses all kinds of pesticides and crap, and even organics use dyes and mordants and processing oils that are chemically icky.

Green knitting is for those people who use canvas shopping bags and drive around in their gas-guzzling SUVs and feel all smug for being environmentally friendly. The same assholes who buy huge houses that suck power and cost a fortune to heat and cool, and buy organic produce and pat themselves on the back for it. Next time someone says "it's ORGANIC!" like that makes it safe and friendly, I'm feeding a nice dose of organically grown belladonna.

There's no way to do ANYTHING without environmental impact. There are six billion plus people on the planet. Let's get real. Please. Before I lose my mind.

For low-impact knitting, which IS possible, humanely raised animal fibers are actually better than most of these plant fibers. (And I won't even BEGIN on those PETA assholes who would rather poison the soil than shear a sheep.) Of the plant fibers, I'd say the least polluting ones to grow and process are the bast fibers - linen, hemp, ramie, and nettle (among other, more obscure ones like yucca and beech bark). If they're allowed to rot on their own and not chemically broken down. Otherwise they're just as bad as the bamboo and soy silk.

So now Vogue Knitting is claiming to go green. Because it's a fad. And they're using pollution-heavy yarns to do it.

I hate those assholes.

(On the other hand, I think that recycled sari silk yarn and other recycled fibers are an awesome idea and that attitude is just what this planet REALLY needs.)

16 comments:

debsnm said...

I am sick to death of everything 'green'! If you want to sell a ba-zillion of something, claim its 'green' or eco-freindly, or good for the environment.
And, I REALLY want to know who's selling "Carbon offsets"??? I'd like to sell a few of those myself, maybe make a million or two.
Green, my ass.

merel said...

hear, hear!
and please don't stop buying VK, I would miss reading your reviews...

lisa said...

Amen.

Jennu said...

I'm with you to a point. There are a lot of shades of gray that I think you're ignoring. Yes, organic cotton yarn isn't no impact, but it is lower impact than industrially-grown cotton yarn.

If you're going to buy cotton yarn (because you're allergic to animal fibers, or the project really, really needs cotton), then organic is a better choice. It's not as virtuous as the marketing wonks would have us believe, but it bugs me to hear people refusing to take baby steps just because they're not huge leaps. (For example, when I go to the farmer's market, I can buy organic tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes that aren't organic. I'd rather have organic heirloom, but I'll buy a few of each instead of giving up and buying some conventional tomatoes at the supermarket.)

I don't make an effort to buy organic yarn, or to make green yarn choices, though I do unravel thrift store sweaters and recycle yarn that way. But I wouldn't make fun of someone for buying organic yarn. If they also happened to be a pretentious prat, I'd rather mock them for that than for their attempts at green-ness.

Amy Lane said...

THANK you! The canvas-bag buying, SUV driving asshole is one of my least favorite animals... and, dammit, I've got no crossbow permit for them varmints.

Michelle said...

You touched on a topic dear to my heart-Hummer driving assholes who park their giant ass SUVs in 4 spaces at the market. I want to ram them with my cart. The only thing worse is the people whose other car is a prius, god help me.

Ginger_nut said...

hear hear -

these are the same people who would want to ban dihydrogen monoxide because everyone who touches it dies. It has a 100% mortality rate.

I think it is hilarious that people who won't use rayon because it is synthetic (albeit from a 'natural' fibre) are so keen to embrace soysilk... which is the exact same thing except with a more specific source!

Bells said...

I'm with Jennu on the grey areas but I think the points you raise are all valid and the whole thing really requires people to think more.

It's about sustainability, not smug back patting because of empty gestures.

RobynR said...

*snrk* PETA. I wonder if these same morons refuse to clip their dogs toenails because it's not natural for the poor things to be pedicured.

Jilly Bean said...

Sadly, the people you just described make up half the population of the town I live in. You wouldn't believe the joyous uproar that the opening of a Trader Joe's caused. There were Explorers, Suburbans, and Escalades as far as the eye could see, all parked like shit.

Liz said...

It's the same sort of cosmetic argument that labels produce "organic", when it's been flown halfway around the world, and tries to con us we're living a "green" lifestyle while we eat "organic" strawberries in December...

Regenia said...

Nettle, yucca, and beech bark? Those are things I've never heard of as fibers and I have a few books on the different yarn fibers and their properties. They sound awesome.... perhaps, please, that could be your next volume of Samurai encyclopedia? Fibers we should all know and love?

And Amen on the rest..... PETA is even on my lab for using animal byproducts in tissue culture.... tissue culture for cancer research.... I'm sure the cows are going through much more pain than the one in six humans that die of the disease. Sheesh!

Roxie said...

PETA story. I have a hat with a coyote tail brim (roadkill) and on a cold winter day I was wearing it on the bus when a young lady approached me and demanded in tones of loathing, "Is that REAL fur on your hat?"

"Yeah," I said, as offhandedly as possible. "The damn dog wouldn't stay out of the chicken coop, so I HAD to shoot him. Waste not, want not"

She backed away in fear and got off at the next stop.

And what the hell is cruelty-free wool?

Courtney said...

THANK YOU for pointing out the pointlessness of calling a carbon-based product "not organic." That drives me batty. So often the general public (read: science-dumb laypeople) is given a little nugget of info that sounds significant and comples but that is actually out of context, incomplete, and often misleading.

I'm fortunate to know enough science (I minored in chemistry) to know that I don't know enough in order to make truly informed decisions as a consumer that will make a siginificant impact on the environment should everyone impliment those same choices.

Kim said...

"Thank You" for saying something about the PETA people. They drive me bug freaking crazy. I live in what is supposed to be the "Greenest City in America" and when people drive in from the suburbs in their SUV's to take part in the Bridge Pedals to bring attention to the need for more public/bicycle transportation all I can do is shake my head. Now GM has a new Hybrid SUV. What a joke. I used to work for those bastards before being outsourced and all you're getting is about 5 more miles a gallon. I do not buy "organic" yarn though it is sold at my LYS. Thank you for pointing out that fibers like soy-silk do go through a chemical intensive process to make them able to be spun into yarn. I could ramble on at length but I do find a lot of merit in the argument of growing/harvesting food and raising animals in a way that has a lower impact on the environment and is healthier for the animal. Although there are a lot of grey areas in this. A reader mentioned organic strawberries flown in from another country in Dec. Green is the new buzzword used to sell products to consumers even though that product may not be "green" at all.

an said...

If you don't want to pay money for VK, you could just go to your local public library. Not all branches will have it (unless your libraries are way cooler than mine) but you should be able to track it down.

it's what I used to do.