Being Transparent

There’s a lot of talk about being a green business, an eco-business,an eco-friendly business. Some of it comes from businesses that are genuinely taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. Some of it is coming from businesses that feel it’s the next way to sell you something new.

It only takes a few moments of browsing on any of the big fast fashion websites to see how keen they are to boast about their ethics. It’s great to know that this matters, and it would be even better if it was backed by real action rather than vague statements. If a business model relies on constantly selling more clothes which will be worn only a few times then that business isn’t environmentally friendly, no matter how much it hopes that its PR will persuade us otherwise.

So what does that have to do with our business?

From that start we’ve tried to be an ethical business. That’s meant working with suppliers whose values we share. We think about the environment when we choose what to make and how to make it. We do our absolute best to treat our customers well.

A lot has changed in the fourteen years since we started The Knitting Goddess. There’s a lot more information available. Despite that it’s still confusing to work out what the ‘right’ choice is.  Every time we think about making a change which initially looks simple it turns out that we’ve opened another can of worms.

When we decided to stop using plastic mail bags for packaging it looked like biodegradable bags were going to be a brilliant solution.Then we found out that these bags are made from materials like corn starch and coated with plastic. The plastic is treated so it will break down which sounds good. Then we found out that the plastic was breaking down into tiny bits of plastic. That’s not good in any way. For now we’re using paper mail bags for posting orders. They’re brilliant in that the paper can be reused and is easily recycled. We’ve cut the plastic we use. However making paper uses resources,and the paper bags are heavier than the plastic mailers. So it’s a good solution but not a perfect one.

As a business we’ve decided that the best thing we can do is be transparent. That means talking about the reasons that we use different materials. It means being upfront about the less pretty side of things.  It means giving you the information you want to make the right choice for you.

Let’s take plastic in yarn as an example. We don’t sell any acrylic yarns, but you’ll find nylon in a couple of our bases. Nylon can be a useful thing in yarns which are going to be subjected to lots of wear so it can be a good thing in yarns that are going to be used for socks.  Hand knitted socks are at the opposite end of the scale to throwaway fast fashion, so using materials which last is important. Not all sock yarns need nylon, but it’s one example of a yarn where plastic is useful.

Making these changes on the website is going to be a work in progress. We’re not going to get everything right first time. As we find out more our opinion on what’s best for us as a business might change.  It’s going to take time to pull information together for everything we make and sell, so if there’s a product you have questions about please get in touch.

What would you like to know? Leave a comment or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.

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One Response to Being Transparent

  1. Winwick Mum says:

    I completely agree. Honestly is always best, because then nobody can accuse you of changing tack when you discover something new or change your mind about something – which is what we all have the right to do as we learn more about how things work. New products are always coming onto the market and now more than ever there’s a need to do something about packaging, so I don’t think it will be long before you have an answer that suits your values and the postage fees.

    I also agree with you about the nylon in socks. I’m fascinated by no-nylon yarns for socks, but the truth is that they just don’t last as long as socks with nylon in them before they need mending – for me anyway, with my pokey toes! Some of my nylon-blend socks are 10 years old and still being worn so they’re hardly in the single use plastic bracket. It’s very easy to get swept up in the “say no to plastic” tidal wave and I have made changes to how we are living with plastic, but I also think we have take a balanced view and consider that plastic in it’s various forms can be very useful, just not when it’s thoughtlessly thrown away.

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