Let’s talk some more about this living-lightly-on-the-planet thing.
A number of years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about a gentleman who wanted to buy footwear that caused as little harm as possible. Obviously leather was out. I don’t remember the exact issue with tennis shoes. Too toxic maybe? Oppressive labor practices? There were problems with rubber and plastics, too. Anyway, every type of shoe he investigated had a questionable provenance. Finally, he settled on a pair of those Chinese canvas shoes. These he considered a compromise.
Wool, as we all know, comes loaded with political baggage. Austrailian and New Zealand ranchers practice mulesing, a horrific practice that mutilates the sheep while ostensibly saving its life. It can’t be great to be a silkworm, either. I guess if you had to pick you’d want to be one of Jen’s goats. Or my friend Meredith’s alpacas—great views and a pack of floppy dogs to keep the coyotes at bay.
If you surf enough in the knit-sphere, you’ll find this cool group of vegan knitters. I occasionally take a spin through their web ring. For the most part, they’re young and hip and cool, and while I might be cooking chicken for dinner I visit hoping some of their youth, coolness and hipness might rub off.
Then there are the problems with dyes. Natural dyers use cochineal (Dude, bugs!) to get those great crimsons. And the acid dyes make me worry about the health of our fabulous handpainters.
Clearly, I have no answers. And like you, I’m not about to stop knitting. What I’m saying is that “voting” with our dollars is fraught with complexity. Does “Fair Trade” make something “green”? Does “organic” guarantee that workers are treated fairly? It’s all a bit like American Apparel, which manufactures goods in the U.S. and pays a decent wage. They even sell organic goods. The dark side? The CEO is an alleged poster child for sexual harrassment.
Got a good compromise out there?