8 Sustainable Yarns and Where to Buy Them

The following article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase from these links, I may receive affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend yarns which I believe are truly sustainable and the companies who make them are following ethical textile and social practices.

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What is a Sustainable Yarn?

A sustainable yarn is a yarn that, in its growing, production and dyeing process follows specific regulations in order to minimise its negative impact on the environment and people.

Trying to find sustainable yarns can be a bit of a minefield so I’ve put together a list of options, what they can be used for and where to buy them to make it easier but first let’s look at some sustainable textile certificates and what they mean.

Three skeins of hemp yarn are coming into the photo from the left only up to half way. The background is white and each skein is a slightly different shade of grey and a different weight. Going from lace at the top, to sport and DK at the bottom.

What Certificates to Look Out for and What They Mean

To help us understand whether a yarn has followed specific sustainability guidelines during production, many yarn companies now display certificates on their yarn labels or on their website. Let’s go through some of the most popular certificates and what they actually mean.

  • GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)

    The GOTS certificate, as the name suggests, concentrates on organic textiles and the governing body checks each stage of the entire supply chain. Going from the first processing stages, to spinning, weaving and knitting, wet processing, manufacturing and trade checking four key features; organic fibres, ecological and social criteria, all processing stages, third-party certification.

    They perform onsite annual inspections of each process, along with staff interviews, book keeping reviews and verifications of risk assessment.

    A product which shows the GOTS label must contain at least 70% certified organic fibres. Any which show the label with grade ‘Organic’ must have at least 95% certified organic fibres.

  • OEKO-TEX Standard 100

    OEKO-TEX standard 100 is a label that tests for harmful substances to make sure the final product is safe for human health. Every single part of the product is tested by accredited labs and the criteria are updated once a year. Here is the current criteria catalog.

  • REACH

    REACH is similar to OEKO-TEX in that it their regulations are for the use of harmful substances in the production process. They are a European Union regulation that is also promoting other methods for assessing hazardous substances to reduce the amount of animal testing.

    For a product to receive this label, the business needs “to demonstrate to ECHA how the substance can be safely used, and they must communicate the risk management measures to the users.”

  • Business Intelligence Group Sustainability Award

    The Business Intelligence Group offers 6 different sustainability awards, covering various types of industries (not only fibre related), for improving the sustainability of the company or product. The number one award being given to the business that proves that sustainability is one of its core business objectives. To receive one of theses awards, the company needs to show through actual data how their business, product or performance has made an impact.

What If There Are No Certificates?

If you’ve found a yarn that you want to use but you’re not sure if it’s sustainable or not and there are no sustainability certificates, don’t fret. Obtaining certificates can be an expensive process. Maybe they haven’t had the time or the funds to get the certificates just yet.

What to Check For

  • What is the fibre content? Read more info on each type of fibre further down this page.

  • Where is it produced? Will it travel far in order to get to you?

  • Check their official website for extra info on the yarn. Check the FAQs, Values or About pages for extra info they may not have included on the label.

  • Do they mention what kind of dyes they use?

If you can’t find much info you can also get in touch with them and ask them some of the following difficult questions about their products, see how they respond and ask them when they plan on getting their certificates.

Questions to Ask Yarn Companies

  • How is it grown/produced? Is it in the right environment to reduce water/pesticide usage? Is it synthetically made?

  • How is it harvested? Is it harvested by machine or do they use manual labour?

  • How is the fibre processed? Is it bleached, waxed or treated with something before spinning and dyeing?

  • Do they use anything else apart from water in the spinning process?

  • Are they, as a company, trying to reduce their carbon footprint? For example reducing their waste, minimising how much electricity they use, recycling their water? etc

  • Are their dyes natural, non toxic or non carcinogenic?

  • Do they look after their staff and follow ethical labour practices?

It seems like a lot to go through and it is safe to say that it is rare to find a yarn that follows all of these points perfectly, however, checking these points gives us a better understanding of how sustainable a yarn is and it means we can make a more informed decision.


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A collection of 4 photos showing different types of yarns in a grid. They are mostly grey and yellow yarns, some in balls and some in skeins. Above the photo there is orange text on white which reads "8 Sustainable Yarns and Where to Buy Them".
 

8 Sustainable Yarns

Here is a list of 8 sustainable yarns that I love to use, what projects they’re good for and where to buy them. The country in brackets shows where the company is based rather than where they ship to. Most ship internationally but please check their shipping policies.

Hemp

Of course hemp is number one in my list :) I love it so much because it is the most sustainable option of yarn in my opinion after a lot research. I’ve collated all my findings into another article for you which compares hemp, linen and cotton.

It’s quite a versatile plant based fibre that can be used for so many things. I use lace weight for clothing as it has lovely drape. Here’s an article on how I used my lace weight hemp yarn to make my own beach dress. I use sport weight for zero waste items like dish scrubbies and soap savers as it is gently exfoliating and can be home composted. I also use DK weight for making sturdier home decor items and bags.

Where to Buy Hemp Yarn

  • My website :) (Cyprus)

    from €8.80 for 273 yards

    I sell completely natural, undyed, unwaxed hemp yarn grown and produced in Romania in all the weights mentioned above (lace, sport and DK). They are organic and are dried and spun using only natural resources (i.e. the sun and water). The water is then filtered and recycled.

  • Darn Good Yarn - Single Ply Hemp Yarn (US)

    from $12.99 for 150 yards

    100% hemp yarn, handmade in Nepal, naturally dyed. DGY are a small business based in the US focusing their efforts on providing high quality eco friendly yarns, supporting artisans around the world and saving waste materials from ending up in landfills.

  • Natissea - Pernelle, Damya, Merlin (France)

    from €15.50 for 207 yards

    A small business based in France that make gorgeously dyed hemp yarn, hemp and linen mix and hemp and organic cotton mix. The use French linen, Romanian hemp and Turkish cotton. They are lovely to work with, they have GOTS and Oeko-Tex® certificates and their dyes are also vegan.

  • Lana Knits - All Hemp (Canada)

    from $9.00 for 165 yards

    Lana Knits is a small business based in Canada that have 3 different weights of All Hemp yarn in a wide range of colours to choose from.

  • Wool and the Gang - Buddy Hemp (US & UK)

    $19.50 for 190 yards

    A 45% organic cotton, 55% hemp mix yarn that comes in a range of colours. The cotton is from Turkey, the hemp from China and the yarn is certified by REACH.

Linen

Linen is hemps sister. Linen is made from the flax plant and it has so many similarities with hemp that make them good for similar projects (check the similarities here), however linen can be softer, has better stitch definition and can create a more uniformed look in your final project. Linen is great for accessories (here’s my bracelet crochet pattern that I made with linen yarn), summer clothing and home decor.

Where to Buy Linen Yarn

  • My website :) (Cyprus)

    from €39.80 for 393 yards

    I stock a completely natural, undyed, unwaxed linen yarn that is a joy to work with. Certified by Masters of Linen®, GOTS and European Flax.

  • Darn Good Yarn - Sport Weight Linen 2-Ply (US)

    $17.99 for 350 yards

    100% sport weight, 2-ply linen available in eight different colours.

  • Lion Brand - Linen Cone (US)

    $37.25 1,750 yards per pound

    100% linen yarn in superfine weight in a range of colours. Great for summer garments or accessories.

  • Natissea - Linea (France)

    from €15.95 for 207 yards

    This small business also sells a gorgeous linen and organic cotton mix. 95% French linen and 5% Turkish cotton. Certified by GOTS and Oeko-Tex®.

  • Hoooked - Somen (Portugal)

    from €3.49 for 83 metres

    Hoooked offer a range of 60% recycled cotton and 40% sustainably grown flax in a wide range of natural colours. They’re certified by Oeko-Tex® Standard 100.

Recycled Cotton

Recycled cotton is the most sustainable option of cotton fibre around. It saves cotton waste from ending up in landfills and it can potentially help to reduce energy and water usage.

If you’re looking for a soft, comfortable yarn for clothing then this is the one!

Where to buy Recycled Cotton Yarn

  • Lion Brand - Mac-Re-Me Yarn (US)

    $6.99 for 77 yards

    A super bulky yarn made from 100% recycled cotton that is ideal for making macrame projects.

  • LoveCrafts - PaintBox Recycled Cotton (UK)

    £3.50 for 170 yards

    A worsted weight yarn made in Turkey and certified by OEKO-TEX Standard 100. Great for home decor, blankets and accessories. Here is my Lemona Tote Bag pattern that I designed with this yarn.

  • LoveCrafts - King Cole Macrame King Cotton (UK)

    £5.89 for 44 yards

    Another 100% recycled yarn suitable for macrame and making home decor items and accessories.

  • GANXXET - Zero Waste Cotton (US)

    from $7.95 for 76 yards

    GANXXET have a wide range of 100% recycled cotton yarns and cords in all sorts of colours and weights suitable for various projects. They are not dyed but retain their original colours and are certified by The Global Recycled Standard, OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and REACH.

  • Hoooked - Spesso Chunky Cotton (Portugal)

    €10.99 for 139 yards

    Spesso chunky cotton is another macrame cord made from undyed 100% recycled cotton fibres that can also be used for large knitting/crochet projects or weaving. Available in 22 different colours. Certified by OEKO-TEX Standard 100.

  • Wool and the Gang - Billie Jean (US & UK)

    $14.00 for 148 yards

    A bulky/chunky yarn made from upcycled denim and cotton, created by The New Denim Project without the use of dye fixer or chemicals in the process. Great for jumpers, tops and accessories.

Organic Cotton

Organic cotton yarn is the more sustainable version of regular cotton but not as sustainable as hemp, linen or recycled cotton. As you know regular cotton uses large amounts of water and pesticides to be produced. Organic cotton uses about 90% less water, doesn’t need any pesticides and is GMO free.

Where to buy Organic Cotton Yarn

  • GANXXET - Organic Combed Cotton (US)

    from $18.95 for 437 yards

    100% organic cotton that is super soft, delicate and shinny. Certified by OEKO-TEX and GOTS. Available in two different weights, one is perfect for amigurumis and the other for clothing and home decor.

  • LoveCrafts - Debbie Bliss Eco Baby (UK)

    £5.50 for 137 yards

    LoveCrafts have a wide range of organic cottons including this one which I love to use. A super soft 100% organic cotton yarn certified by OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and GOTS. Available in a range of gorgeous colours. Perfect for making baby clothing.

  • Knitpicks - Simply Cotton Organic (US)

    $6.99 for 164 yards

    100% organic cotton, undyed and unbleached available in fingering, sport. and worsted weights. Certified by GOTS.

  • Ice Yarns - Organic Baby Cotton (Turkey)

    €1.65 for 125 yards

    A worsted weight yarn that is certified by GOTS, available in a wide range of colours and suitable for summer projects as well as baby items.

  • Katia - Fair Cotton Craft (Barcelona)

    €17.50 for 542 meters

    Katia have a few different organic cotton yarns all certified by GOTS that are suitable for making a wide range of clothing from skirts, to jumpers, to summer dresses.

  • Natissea - Malva (France)

    €13.50 for 207 yards

    Malva is Natisseas 100% organic cotton available in 5 different colours.

  • Eco Friendly Crafts - Mondial Eco Soft Bio (US)

    $6.50 for 196 yards

    Super soft and perfect for babywear. Certified by GOTS and OEKO-TEX Standard 100.

  • Wool and the Gang - Big Love Cotton (US & UK)

    $19.00 for 110 yards

    A soft, chunky yarn that is vegan and certified by GOTS. Perfect for making comfortable loungewear for winter.

Nettle

Nettle yarn is very similar to hemp in that it is slightly rough to the touch and perfect for making zero waste items like shower puffs, dish scrubbies, soap savers but also bags and accessories.

Nettles naturally grow in abundance and don’t need any extra irrigation or pesticides making this a much more sustainable fibre than cotton. However, there are three different types of nettles than can be used for fibre, Himalayan, Ramie and European. European is the most difficult to grow for commercial use and so it is usually the Himalayan variety that is turned into yarn.

Where to but Nettle Yarn

  • Darn Good Yarn (US)

    $12.99 for 150 yards

    DGY has two weights of nettle yarn, a single ply and a 3-ply both made in Nepal and 100% organic.

  • VeganYarn.co.uk (UK)

    £3.00 for 40 meters

    100% nettle available in a wide range of colours, hand spun in India. A difficult yarn to crochet with as it is hand spun but great for weaving projects.

Raffia

Raffia yarn is made from palm tree leaves. It is a renewable plant based resource that creates a versatile, pliable, strong fibre that is perfect for making summer accessories like bags, sun hats and home decor.

For the yarn to be sustainable the leaves need to be harvested correctly, at the correct time of year and without damaging the rest of the tree so that it can continue to grow.

Where to Buy Raffia Yarn

  • Wool and the Gang - Ra-Ra Raffia (US & UK)

    €20.00 for 273 yards

    Wool and the Gangs Ra-Ra Raffia is certified by REACH and FSC. It is made from wood pulp sourced from Vancouver, Canada and dyed in Taiwan. Available in a wide range of colours.

  • LoveCrafts - Wool and the Gang Ra-Ra Raffia (UK)

    £16.75 for 273 yards

Bamboo

Is bamboo a sustainable fibre? This is a question for a whole other blog post but in summary, bamboo is sustainable in that it is made from a renewable resource, growing bamboo cleans the air and it’s compostable, however there is also a dark side to bamboo.

Unfortunately, forests and fields have been cut down in order to satisfy the demand for bamboo. It wouldn’t be my go to fibre for sustainability but if you really need bamboo yarn, here is where to buy it from.

Where to Buy Bamboo Yarn

  • Lion Brand - Truboo (US)

    $5.99 for 241 yards

    100% bamboo yarn that is soft and ideal for summer garments. This yarn received the Business Intelligence Sustainability Award in 2022.

  • LoveCrafts - Lion Brand Truboo (UK)

    £5.49 for 264 yards

Tencel

What is Tencel? Tencel is made from recycled wood waste or pulp which means it is fully biodegradable. It is naturally bright white which means it doesn’t need to be bleached to produce bright coloured yarns.

However, the pulp is first processed in a solvent and then it is often dyed with harmful dyes so it’s not as sustainable as hemp, linen or recycled cotton.

Where to Buy Tencel Yarn

  • Wool and The Gang - Tina Tape (US & UK)

    $14.00 for 164 yards

    Wool and the Gangs Tencel yarn is made in Turkey with eucalyptus tree fibre using renewable energy and as an extra bonus it is dyed with low impact dyes.

  • Vegan Yarn (UK)

    £14.00 for 225 meters

    This Tencel is made locally from recycled wood waste and available in 36 different colours.

If you’ve tried any of the yarns mentioned above, please let me and others know what you think of them in the comments.

Tina Rinaudo

Tina is a passionate zero waster and crocheter who aims to live and crochet as sustainably as possible. She has been crocheting since 2016 and specialises in using sustainable yarns to design zero waste crochet patterns to make easy swaps for yourselves and your homes. She has been featured in Happily Hooked Magazine, PatternCenter.com and many other websites for her eco friendly crochet patterns.

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