Besides being a fun pastime, knitting is a pretty effective way to help the earth by using less energy. I’m sure you’ve all heard the adage, “If you’re cold, put on a sweater.” But it goes so much farther than that!
The difference of just a few degrees on your thermostat can make a big impact on your energy usage. According to the US Department of Energy, for every degree lower you set your thermostat in the colder months, you can save up to 1% on your energy bill. Lowering it from 72 to 68 degrees can save a lot more. Instead of turning the heat back up if you feel a chill, a wool sweater or blanket can be just the thing to keep you warm without having to warm the whole house. Not to mention that some blankets, like the Impressionist Afghan, can warm you while you work on it – because it’s made in one piece!
Another great thing to keep warm in a chilly house (especially if you have wood or tile floors!) are some super-squishy knit or crocheted boots. They’ll keep your feet warm, and they’re so cute you won’t want to take them off. The Cozy Slippers Crochet Boots work up super fast – you’ll want a pair in every color!
When you’re on the go, you can limit the amount of ‘throwaway’ products you use by being prepared with some great handmade items. When you’re off to the store, bring a Montevilla Market Bag or two. These sturdy totes carry as much (if not more than) a standard plastic grocery bag, but they’re adorable and completely re-useable. With the four balls of yarn required, you can make two – one to keep at home and one in the car for those unexpected stops!
If you’re a big fan of coffee like me, keep some Cheery Cup Cozies with you. These are great for both hot and cold beverages, and the wool insulates both your drink and your hand! They fit over standard paper coffee cups as well as travel mugs and water bottles. You can make a ton from one kit (which is currently on sale for $12.79); keep some in your glove box, desk drawer and purse so you’re always prepared. (those little cardboard sleeves might not seem like much, but if you are a daily take-out coffee drinker, that’s a lot of cardboard!)
Knitting and crocheting is a great way to save on laundry costs, too. Wool and other animal fibers don’t need to be washed as often as plant fibers, so you can wear your wool socks and sweaters multiple times between washings. Any clothing would benefit fron not being put in the dryer (as that really shortens the life of most clothing), and for hand-knits this is especially true. Hanging your woollens to dry will save big in the energy department – dryers used only a few times will use as much energy in that time as a refrigerator does for the whole week! If you live in a small space (or just aren’t sure where to start with line drying), here are a few tips.
Ok, it’s actually called Pressa, and you can get them at Ikea for $4.99. I have two of them – that hangs 16 pair of socks! When the socks come off the rack, the arms fold up and I can slide it out of my way.
They are hanging from a drying bar directly over the washer and dryer – this is just a thick closet dowel placed a shirt’s-length above the machines. This way I have no excuse for not hanging my clothes to dry – the bar is right there. When I was in an apartment, I used a sturdy shower curtain rod for the same thing – and over-the-door hangers. For my sweaters, I used stacking sweater dryers either over the tub or out on my porch.
With all of those laundry helpers, I only run the dryer maybe once or twice a week – even though I do at least five loads of laundry. It’s really easy to save energy there, and you can buy fewer clothes as they won’t wear out so quickly.
While these may seem like little steps to take individually – knitting warm clothes for yourself and your family, bringing your bags and coffee sleeves with you, and being mindful of laundry habits – if we all did them, we could save an enormous amount of energy each year. That’s good for the Earth and all of us – and a great reason to keep on knitting. Happy Earth Day!