Monday, August 14, 2006

Soy Source?

Last Tuesday I went to Robert Sayle (local branch of John Lewis) just to take a look. The look (as seems to happen all too often!) turned into some serious stash enhancement, as I left clutching the new Rowan magazine, 3 balls of Wendy Fusion in fenugreek, glorious blue/green colourway and 3 balls of Rowan Tapestry in the pot pourri colourway (soft browns and pink). I was totally seduced by the Tapestry yarn but how I wish I'd read the label more closely. Fondling my new treasure just before the KTog that evening, I spotted the words "soybean protein fibre" and alarm bells started to ring. I've nothing against soy (I really enjoy well-crisped tofu) but I always take great care to ensure that any soy I buy is neither genetically modified, nor produced in Brazil, where soy growing is hastening the uprooting of rainforest! To make things even more ethically challenging, my step-daughter has just pointed out that the yarn comes from China, too, making me wonder about the conditions and pay of the workers involved in its production (this is a very unsettling point for me, as I work for a company that sells Chinese-made goods, though it is increasingly finding suppliers in Britain and Europe).

So...as today is the first day of my holiday, but as I'm feeling too unwell to go out/knit/do housework I've just written to Rowan for more information and suggested that "if these are issues you have not considered before and the yarn does turn out to be contributing to rainforest depletion or exploiting Chinese labourers, would you consider making a donation to environmental/ethical charities by way of compensation?"

Watch this space!

8 comments:

Anne said...

Hmm - you're making me wonder about my South West Trading Company Karaoke now - it's 50% soy silk. I can't see anything about it's production on the SWTC website - do you know anything? (If not I'll send them an email.)

Heather said...

Good for you. I look forward to finding out what Rowan say in response.

francesca said...

That's interesting and worrisome. I had no idea. There seems to be quite a bit of soy silk going around in my spinning guild; I'll make sure to bring up this issue at the next meeting.

Rosie said...

I've done a wee bit of internet research since writing the letter and it seems that SWT's yarn is a by-product of tofu manufacture, if that's the case it amy not be too bad, as tofu tends to get purchaes by ethical consumers. If it were the by-product of other soy products it might be worse!

Bagpuss said...

Well done you! I know that I really should be more ethically trading minded but I just can't ge there...I do try though. At the beginning of the year there was a FairTrade fortnight at Uni and that was really interesting and due to that the canteen, cafes and shops all sell FairTrade goods alongside everything else. I think this is quite a step for a big commercial establishment (which to be honest Uni's are these day, they are just about making money as any other business). Maybe I should make a new academic year resolution to try to buy ethically traded goods. Mmmm just had a brainwave...

E-J said...

Just before Robert Sayle closed that Tuesday, I was fondling and dribbling all over the Fusion Fenugreek and Cajun yarns - it's a good thing you made your purchase before I got my sticky mitts on it!

I wouldn't even have thought to be wary of the soy question before you mentioned it at KTog. Do let us know what Rowan have to say ...

Alice said...

Those are really good points, thanks for posting about them. I should consider my yarn as much as I do food and clothing.

You have to consider wool or cotton (or other fiber) in comparison to the soy though too - e.g. the environmental cost of feeding the sheep.

But I guess wool is a by-product of meat industry just as SWT's is of tofu? Maybe that's not correct. My agricultural knowledge is rubbish.

Daisy said...

That's interesting. I'd be very interested to find out what Rowan say.