Why Acrylic Yarn?

When I was teaching, it was important for me to facilitate a global perspective, recognizing our connectedness beyond our immediate communities. In one such conversation, my class began talking about Toms Shoes and the good they do. I acknowledged the good, and then suggested to my students that we need to think critically about it because of the ways Toms impacts and undercuts local markets in places where they give. One of my students raised his hand and, demonstrating critical thinking, said, "Wait, Bodnar, didn't your old laptop have a Toms sticker on it?" Busted. I said yes, and shared how I got that sticker (and a pair of Toms) several years before thinking it was a great thing, and that since then I had learned more about their impact. I can't change my past spending, but I can acknowledge growth and more learning.  (It's also worth noting that Toms has done some work in this area too.)

Since learning to knit, I have worked with and been given tons of acrylic yarn. Unfortunately, acrylic is plastic. While it's often super soft, it contributes to our planet's waste problems. As a business, Joining Yarns strives to be ethical and sustainable. Any new yarns that I purchase are researched to achieve this value. And I still have and use acrylic yarns. Here are some of my reasons:

  • Ecosystems are complicated, and choosing what is best for our Earth is not always linear. My intuition suggests that it is better for synthetic yarn to end up an item that keeps someone warm than to be unused and tossed into a landfill.
  • While most people agree that wool is superior in terms of moisture wicking and warmth, it is also more difficult to maintain. Acrylic yarns are easily washed and dried, and that can be an advantage too, especially for our unsheltered friends.
  • Acrylic yarns provide an inclusive alternative for those who have wool allergies.
In our rush to be sustainable, it's easy to replace the old with a new and better product.  But there is also wisdom and sustainability in using what we have as long as we can, and then replacing it.  A few hats with synthetic fibers are still available here, and they are just as cozy as their wool counterparts.  Find them here!

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