Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Think Global, Knit Local

Knitwits Yarns

Tinebeest's comment from yesterday has given me the chance to have a mini-rant about globalisation, our responsibilities to (and for) it, shopping habits etc, etc. Don't worry - I'm not going to have a huge, big fat rant - just a mini one. It just got me thinking a bit (and maybe some of you as well).

I am as guilty as the next person for doing the bulk of my shopping in a major supermarket beginning with T. But I do have some justification: FB and I run 3 companies, that's 3 lots of accounts to be kept up to date; I have 2 teenagers, that's 2 insatiable appetites to feed; said teenagers are at one sporting venue or another 3 nights a week and neither of them drive yet (perhaps fortunately); I work 6 days a week, that's only 1 day off a week; and the supermarket beginning with T delivers to my home. That means we can sit on the computer, day or night, order our basic essentials and they'll be delivered at a time that suits us. If you value your time at, say, £30.00 per hour and it takes 2 hours to complete the weekly shop (driving there and back, packing and unpacking etc), it makes far more sense, timewise (and moneywise), to have everything delivered to the door. It also means that one van is delivering to, up to, 10 houses rather than 10 cars making the return journey to the supermarket.

However (and this is a big HOWEVER), we get all our meat from local farmers - our pork comes from a friend and we usually get 2 half pigs a year from her (yes, we have a big freezer), our beef comes from the farm we live on and our lamb comes from "our" farmer's sister-in-law over the top on the north coast at Morvah. We produce our own eggs and, occasionally, we eat our own cockerels and pheasants and other game that the boys bring home from the local shoot! We only have one car and all of us, at some time or another, ride bikes to and from town (I ride mine every day as you know). Our local supermarket beginning with T does try to stock local fruit and veg when it can and we will always buy it when they do.

So, I do think - in a small way - we are doing what little bit we can. (Oh, yes, I buy most of my clothes from charity shops as well - picked up some lovely Jaeger trousers for £5.00 not so long ago!)

Now I know there are going to be some people reading this and shouting at the screen, "yes, but I don't know a local farmer and I can't afford locally produced meat and I don't have a good local yarn shop" and, of course, that's true but I think it's all about doing the little bits we can do. If you do have a local yarn shop then try to support it and if you want something they haven't got, then - by all means - turn to the wonders of the internet (good grief, I have a website and I love receiving your orders!) but don't order on the 'net and then go to your yarn shop to have a feel of what you've ordered!

And then we have the whole "bigger picture" to consider. It is absolutely unrealistic to expect all knitters to knit with locally produced fibres all the time but it is also and undeniable fact that most yarns have a pretty horrendous air-mileage. Most cheaper yarns are made from petro-chemicals and have been spun in China, so there are the ethical issues as well as the mileage to take into consideration. Cotton is the filthiest product produced for textiles, bar none and even agro-chemists won't argue on that point (and believe me, I've discussed it with them). But, we like to knit with cottons and some of them are are really beautiful. With my Cornish Organic hat on, we are currently sourcing organic, fair trade cotton for our next line and, believe me, it's and long and complex business and so, yes, the net product may be more expensive but the extra cost is saving the planet and the health of the workers who are producing the cotton for us.

It's a big and complex issue so, what do I think? I think we should all try and think about where everything comes from and try to buy things locally when we can. For knitters, that may (should?) include trying to knit at least one locally sourced item a year - whether that's wool from your local farmers' market (or Cornish Organic!!) or some other local source and, if it's cotton try and make it organic. I may yet do another whole big, fat rant about organic cotton and dubious certification bodies but I'm sure you've had enough for now!

And, as tinebeest said, Think Global, Buy Local!

1 comment:

  1. Hear hear!

    My little comment was -as you correctly interpreted- not intended to make anyone *feel guilty* about what they do, but rather to make people *think* about what they do. A project from the US I really like is the 3/50 project ( ).

    My current knitting group, the Oxford Bluestockings (yes, really) regularly discusses the question of the origin of yarn. We sing the praises of British breeds, and have a few members who currently work their way through a self-imposed period of "British only" yarns. But I know these people are a relatively rare find.

    I look forward to your rant on certified organic cotton. Without that sort of information, we don't know if we're doing the right thing!

    One fine day we'll have to have a good chin-wag about all this, I'll stop monopolizing the comment section for today :-)