September 19, 2008

Green Heart?

Straight from a press release in my inbox:

Coats & Clark is now introducing two new Red Heart eco-yarns with a “Friendly to our Earthâ„¢” theme. Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend and Red Heart Eco-Ways are manufactured in the United States using recycling discarded materials.

Eco-Ways™ is an innovative, easy-care product that lessens the impact on the environment because it is made with 30% recycled polyester from plastic. According to the US Environmental Agency the amount of plastic in municipal landfills has increased from less then one percent of the total in 1960 to 12 percent in 2006. The American Chemistry Council says today an average of 76% of all plastics picked up for curbside recycling is repurposed into other products such as fibers. Coats & Clark, in accordance with its own green policies, knows more needs to be done and looks to Eco-Ways™ to be a player in our reduce, reuse and recycle world. Even the label is made from recycled paper. Eco-Ways™ offers a wonderful hand and is easy care – simply wash and dry. The large, 4-ounce skein contains 186 yards, and is available in eight beautiful, no-dye-lot colors with a suggested retail price of $3.19.

“Greening products is not as simple as it sounds. Creating organic yarns or yarns using no dye or low-impact dying is very expensive and not always the best way to be eco-friendly,” said Nancy Thomas, Creative Director for Red Heart. “The idea of taking an existing material that has no value and turning it into something usable is absolutely the right way to incorporate the ‘recycle and reuse’ theme while creating an affordable product for the end consumer. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.”

Plastic is an obvious detriment to our earth. But, have you ever thought about textile waste. The Council for Textile Recycling estimates textile waste represents 10 pounds for every person in the United States which translates into 2.5 billion pounds a year. Thank goodness for textile recycling and products like Red Heart Eco-Cottonâ„¢ blend which is created from t-shirt remnants; 75 percent Eco2cottonâ„¢ recycled cotton. Cloth scraps are collected from manufacturing plants (never touching a landfill), then chopped, blended and turned into fiber. Better yet, new dyes are not introduced to the cotton so fewer chemicals are used. Eco-Cottonâ„¢ blend is a soft yarn in eight solid and marled colors. Each ball is 3 ounces and contains 145 yards with a suggested retail of $3.49.

Ok, say what you want about Red Heart, but in the hands of a good designer, every yarn has potential. And poly blends are fantastic for garments such as skirts — think about it this way, if a yarn is going to pill after you’ve spend all that time knitting or crocheting it, you don’t want the skirt looking as if you sat down on a couch covered with fuzz, right? Quality poly blends aren’t going to do that, not to mention the obvious washable advantages of these blends for baby clothes, blankets, etc. Speaking of, here’s one kit they’ve made up for a crocheted blanket that’s adorable. (It’s pictured above). I think I’m going to have to get my hands on some of this and play — the colors available in Eco-Ways are particularly nice. Lichen and mushroom, yum.

Compared to some of the other “eco” yarns I’ve seen hit the mass market lately (I am following the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all” rule instead of my usual Alice Roosevelt Longworth rule — “if you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit here by me”), these Red Heart yarns are brilliant. Note to other producers: adding a miniscule amount of soy fiber or bamboo to something and keeping the same obnoxious, plastic-y feel is not taking a step forward. I also like that they’re making an effort to use less dye. Time to do some yarn-tasting, I think.

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  • Paula

    Please, please tell us how the new Red heart yarn FEELS to the touch … is it soft and cozy or is it hardish and rough ?

    Reply to Paula
  • Post authorShannon

    As soon as I get my hot little hands on it, I’ll report back, Paula! I’ve used recycled cotton yarns before, I have a pretty good idea on how those would feel. It’s the Eco-Ways I’m really curious about. Not all acrylic yarns are bad. Berroco Comfort and Comfort DK are AMAZINGLY soft and pleasant to knit with, for example.

    Reply to Shannon
  • Amy

    Woohoo! That’s awesome, thanks for the heads up. (I’m another fan of Comfort, but would rather use non-petroleum based materials if possible).

  • kristi

    most interesting! and heartening. a company like red-heart that has a huge market share and broad reach is surely in a position to make some positive changes in the industry… just think if the yarn you could find at the drugstore on the corner were made of old t-shirts and drink bottles…
    or, at least 30% old drink bottles.

    Reply to kristi
  • Laura

    I’d love to know how this yarn feels, too. I heard that Caron is also coming out with a line of “eco” yarn, also made from 20% recycled plastic. I agree with you about not snubbing acrylic. Not all acrylic yarns feel like Red Heart Super Saver. I personally find wool too itchy, and can’t see crocheting something like an afghan out of wool, and having to hand wash it.

    P.S. The latest issue of Crochet Today magazine has a pattern for a really cute baby blanket made out of the Red Heart Eco-Ways yarn.

    Reply to Laura

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