In choosing my shipping and packaging materials, I've done quite a bit of digging through the internet and catalogs to find the most environmentally friendly way to ship your yarn, and still have it arrive intact even if it sits on your doorstep in the rain.
- Recycled Tyvek Mailers - I use these because they are the most reliable lightweight envelopes that allow me to send small quantities of yarn first-class. I have had paper, bubble, and poly mailers break, so I don't use them. I buy ones with recycled content. If your local recycler does not accept Tyvek, you can send it to DuPont.
- Recycled Cardboard - When non-USPS boxes are used, they have as much recycled content as I can buy for the size.
- Certified Compostable and Biodegradable Bags - Your yarn will always be inside a waterproof enclosure inside the box or mailer. I use heat-sealable cellophane bags that are certified biodegradable and compostable. They're also advertised to be made carbon zero from sustainable forestry principles. Good-bye zipper bags!
- 100% Recycled Cardstock, Labels, and Paper - These can cost up to 3 times as much as "normal" paper, cardboard, and labels. I feel it's worth it, and that I'm sending a message by buying and using recycled materials.
Sustainable Living and Dyeing
Natural dyeing is great in that the dyes themselves are all plant and animal-based and non-toxic. However, in order to make the dyes fast (and not fade with washing or light exposure), a metal mordant is needed to bind the dye to the yarn. I use several different mordants, and am always careful to recycle my mordant baths and exhaust them.
I am very excited to just now be moving into a house which has a yard and 2 large raised planter beds. I'll have the opportunity to start growing some of my own food and dyestuffs, and be able to compost! Water from dyeing can be used for plants, and spent dyestuffs like wood chips and cochineal can go into the compost bin. Coffee can be used first as an essential stimulant, then as a dye, and then as a nutrient. I even know where to get a lot of alpaca poop for fertilizer!
That said, I'm not 100% Hippie
I do have this techno-geek engineer side to balance out the crunchiness. I'm a fan of technology, I like fast cars, and my iPhone is never far away. I believe that there are really good uses for technology and petroleum products, and I do enjoy many of the modern conveniences they provide. We all make choices, and where we draw the line between convenient and sustainable is often a personal one. I won't tell you that my way is better, and I don't turn my nose up at synthetic dyes. I simply like using natural ones because it's challenging, fun, and I get to really dork out about chemistry sometimes. :)