Posted by: Leslie | September 25, 2007

the Pidge and being "green"

Recently there’s been a bit of buzz on ravelry about a new little garment called the Pidge. Basically it’s an 1/8 of a scarf, with buttons, to be worn around the neck as a sort of collar:

The makers of the Pidge describe themselves as environmentally friendly, because aside from the Italian cashmere yarn, each Pidge is made with domestic materials and produced using no electricity, aside from the “handful of halogen lights illuminating the knitting studio.” Want one of your own? They’re only $275-$425.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the Pidge site for a couple of weeks now. For one thing, I don’t buy their “eco-friendly” line. First their claim that the Pidges are produced using no electricity aside from a handful of halogen lights. Well, as these pictures of their “atelier” show, that handful is a large overhead lighting system:

And as for the claim that there’s no other electricity involved, how about the TV, microwave, and coffee maker?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume they have some sort of climate control (heating, AC) as well. And there’s nothing wrong with that–I believe people should have a comfortable working environment. But it does blow a big hole in their “no electricity” claim. They’re hardly making these things by firelight in a cave.

My other bone to pick is the use of Italian cashmere. To quote the website: “Excepting its fine Italian cashmere, the elements of every individual Pidge–from each scarf’s unique fire-branded wooden buttons to its textile-cut fasteners and unique patterns–are all conceived, designed, and created domestically.” A few weeks ago they mentioned that they use Karabella yarns in making the Pidges, though that information has since been removed from their website. Karabella is an Italian yarn producer and like most Italian textile companies, they import their cashmere from central Asia (China and Mongolia). The cashmere is spun into yarn in Italy and exported to retailers around the world. So, the makers of the “environmentally friendly” Pidge are using fibre that travelled from China to Italy and finally to Connecticut–just imagine all the fuel (and electricity!) used to transport and process the primary material for the Pidge. Sure, the other elements of the Pidge (buttons and fasteners) are made domestically, but that doesn’t change the fact that probably 90% of each Pidge is imported cashmere yarn.

More about cashmere: although it’s grown on a goat, it’s usually done in such a way that it cannot be considered a sustainable resource. Most of the world’s cashmere is, as I said, produced in central Asia, where the goats are wreaking havoc on their environment: eating all the available vegetation and damaging topsoil. Asian cashmere goats are often underfed as well, since it results in production of a finer, softer fibre. There are North American farmers who are raising cashmere sustainably, but it’s harder to find and certainly not to be found in the Pidge.

However, in the end, I doubt that the people willing to shell out $400 for a fraction of a scarf are the type to be overly concerned with whether their Pidge is really “green” or not. It’s become trendy to be eco-conscious (whether genuinely so or not), and I doubt the Pidge is the only high-end garment being marketed as green despite dubious claims of sustainability. For me it’s all the more reason to research where my money’s going to, and if in doubt, I’ll knit my own 1/8 scarf.

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Responses

  1. I totally agree. I really believe that to be labeled green is something that should be more regulated than it is. Just because the buttons are local doesn’t mean that the scarf is green at all. I wonder what the carbon foot print of each scarf really is?

  2. I applaud you with such gusto.

    And the price seems completely outrageous. You’d think you’d be paying for that “eco-friendly” which is all fine and good – but, as you stated, it seems more like false advertising than anything.

    I pity the poor fool who is duped into purchasing such an expensive commodity without any real reason for it.

    (I don’t even think they’re terribly flattering! A portion of a scarf that looks mildly bland for an inflated cost!)

    I’m glad I read this. Thank you.

  3. I think the carbon footprint is huge, on account of the cashmere. If they really wanted to be green, they’d use sustainably-produced domestic cashmere (or maybe alpaca).

    The makers of the Pidge would be perfectly fine marketing their product as fashionable and made of luxurious materials, rather than trying to hitch their star to the green bandwagon with no good basis for it. That’s what irks me.

  4. great post leslie, we need more of these kinds of exposure given the hype and obfuscation going round.

  5. ok all of you losers who dont like the pidge, you should jump off a cliff and die.
    quite frankly, the pidge just happens to be the most unigue part of my fashion life and ive gotten various amount of compliments by wearing them.
    they come in a variety of astonishing colors.
    so any asshole who doesnt like the pidge is most likely someone who doesnt have any life and has nothing better to do.
    go kill your self.

  6. I think that you are all wrong here. What 3Fe is trying to say here is that they put a lot of effort into being the most eco-friendly possible, and that they are environmentally conscious, as opposed to other companies that are not. As for cashmere not being eco-friendly, it would be impossible to create a cashmere scarf without cashmere. Plus, if someone were to make a so-called “green” version, the product would not have nearly the amount of quality that the Pidge does. As for the price, I would like to see anyone else try to make a product that looks as fine as the Pidge itself.

  7. With regards to the two most recent comments (from fini and yarnamaniac), both of which came from visitors from the same city in Connecticut, where the Pidge is made (leading me to wonder if the commenter is a shill for 3Fe, or merely a satisfied if ineloquent customer): I suggest you re-read my post and my criticisms of the Pidge’s claims of eco-friendliness. Indeed it would be “impossible to create a cashmere scarf without cashmere”, as you put it, but it is possible to use cashmere produced in a sustainable fashion. 3Fe, however, uses Asian-sourced cashmere, which is not sustainable.

    As for the price, I think it’s a bit excessive but really I’m more concerned with the claims of eco-friendliness that don’t stand up to even a small amount of scrutiny.

  8. Quenouille, that was such a compelling argument (Though looking at the site it self is compelling enough.) I love the way you’ve verbalized everyone’s thoughts about this issue so eloquently.

    Kudos!

    ***

    Yarnamaniac, if you look on Ravelry you’ll see that members have figured out the stitch pattern, while others have developed their own slight variation on the needles. They’ve been able to create replicas of the Pidge with little money, little effort, and not much of a carbon foot-print if they use local yarn or yarn simply made in the country.

    If one uses yarn grown and spun locally, that would make it pretty damn “green”, and I don’t see how that would lessen the quality. Explain that aspect to me please? How being completely green would lessen quality or value?

    ***

    As for Fini: Why don’t you do everyone else in Connecticut a favor and lessen the heard by one while I knit my self a Smidge 😉

  9. […] Glass hammer – An object a carnival worker will ask a younger customer for when asked for a free game or prize. The idea is that the ‘mooch’ will go onto the next game and ask for a glass hammer, only to find out that this new carny has one, but can only give it up for some other far fetched item. Examples of such items include: A cordless extension cord, a solar-powered flash light, an underwater lighter, tack glue, a left handed screwdriver, etc. The idea is to have fun at the customer’s naivety. […]

  10. First, to Fini: You put me in mind of a spoiled little brat who’s always getting everything she wants, and whose parents and everyone else always agree with her just to keep her happy. Everyone has an opinion; they don’t always have to agree. So what if people don’t like the Pidge? What right do you have to judge anyone else just because their tastes aren’t in keeping with yours? Perhaps it’s you who doesn’t have a life, and perhaps it’s time for a reality check. The world is NOT according to you, contrary to your belief. It’s time to grow up out of your childish dream now, and stop throwing your childish temper tantrums at everyone who differs from you.

    Second, to Yarnmaniac: There are many high-quality yarns produced right here in this country that are much more ecologically friendly than this yarn they are importing for this over-priced piece.

    In general, I don’t see how they can justify what they are doing. It seems to be a scam, as far as I am concerned. I, for one, am going over to Ravelry to see about the pattern because I do like the idea, but without the price!

  11. Sheesh! Anyone can knit a simple two button scarf for less than $200. But, I wonder if Pidge is hiring. Must be nice to get paid to sit in such a pretty environment and knit all day long, no?

  12. Maybe the price is high because this garment has magical powers? It’s meant for winter-wear, yet the model appears to need no other clothing to stay warm! 😉


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