James' Knit Notes

Recycled Plastic Bottle Yarn

Remember when polyester fabrics first became popular in America? My parents had matching polyester pant suits. It was my introduction to the difference between natural and synthetic fibers. So recently, when I heard about yarn being made from recycled plastic bottles, I had mixed feelings. While it was good news that waste was being redirected from landfills to textile mills, I kept thinking about those polyester pant suits.

Then HiKoo introduced me to Popcycle, their new blended yarn: 50% recycled plastic bottles and 50% bamboo. When I saw it, I was shocked. It looked beautiful and felt wonderful in my hands. Then I discovered there are two plastic bottles in each hank of yarn. After trying to avoid plastic bottles and packaging for years, this came as welcomed news.

So, I looked up the facts. Supplying the plastic bottles that Americans consume each year requires 47 million barrels of oil and releases one billion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. By contrast, one million plastic bottles recycled saves 250 barrels of oil and eliminates 180 metric tons of CO2 emissions from being released in the atmosphere. Plus, recycling plastic bottles takes 8 times less energy than what is required to produce an equivalent quantity of new ones. I immediately bought Popcycle yarn. Then designed and knit a backpack. Perhaps the most rewarding knitting project I have ever completed. Now I’m making a sweater and looking forward to wearing 20 plastic bottles on my back, with pleasure.

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