Simple linen knit T.shirt,
plastic on our beaches and I'm so sad.
Now the second reason for this photograph is to showcase a rather lovely knitted linen T.shirt, and of course I want to tempt you into purchasing the yarn and pattern. Made from recycled linen, this classic garment is exceptionally easy to knit, its just a front and a back. Dare I say, long after the 'latest Summer must have' from Zara, Glassons, or Country Road has been tossed out, this gloriously simple garment will remain faithful, like a true friend, reliable, comfortable and a pleasure to have around.
Please take a peek at the rather lovely range of shades available. I can very safely say that there's a shade to suit everyone, from the gentle chalky hues to the colour saturated high impact colours. Our sample garment uses shade Kanoko, which is a gentle powder blue. Along with this shade, my 'pick of the pops' would have to include the gorgeous green based shades of Shallow, Shrub, and Cirrus, and for those of you 'blue girls', there's Pyjama, and a classic navy called Pigment.
At this stage of the newsletter I am just going to press 'copy' and 'paste' and a new section will instantly pop up. It takes thought and energy to write my newsletters and, as I am a little tired, I'm relieved to pad it out with some older ramblings. Some weeks ago I was asked to give my opinion on the unsavory subject of plastic on our beaches, for the local publication, Channel Magazine. Below are my thoughts.
You might know Fran Stafford as the driving force behind Milford’s Wild and Woolly Yarns, where she has created a haven for knitters with a shop full of natural yarns. But there’s more to Fran than knitting. With summer coming up, and the amount of plastic on our beaches showing little sign of diminishing, Channel Magazine talked to this passionate environmentalist who cares deeply about keeping plastic off our beaches and out of our coastal waters.
Channel Magazine: How would you describe the problem of plastic on North Shore beaches?
Fran Stafford: Plastic is twice daily washed up by the incoming tide, relentless and ceaseless; an unwelcome and inconvenient reminder that we are not as clean or green as we may think. On the North Shore we are ‘fortunate’ that our currents do not wash up the huge waves of rubbish found in many coastal areas world worldwide. However, this is more due to the sea’s currents than a society that is committed to reducing ocean waste. Perhaps if we experienced the waves of plastic commonplace in Kenya and the Pacific Islands, we might be more inclined to act to reduce our impact.
Just walking the length of Takapuna beach with my dog I can easily fill a “doggie bag” with a vast amount and range of plastic: balloons, coffee cup lids, straws, ice cream spoons, drink bottle lids, polystyrene beads, syringes, condoms and of course plastic bags and packaging! Most of the time, it’s hard to distinguish what it began life as, as by the time I pick it up is it already broken down into smaller pieces, the rest floating around in our ocean, or worse….
CM: How did your concern about plastics (and other environmental issues) develop?
FS: It probably started in a small way and grew to become habit. I used a coffee keep-cup and my daughter vowed to not use plastic carrier bags for a year (this was loooong before they were ‘banned’ by supermarkets). These actions became habit and with this, awareness of other environmental issues grew. Soon our whole household was engaged in a game of one-up-manship in terms of who was doing something else to reduce their impact on the planet.
CM: Why is plastic on the beaches a concern?
FS: At a high level, plastic reduces our and other animals’ (that’s right, we are one of many species entitled to a clean environment) ability to enjoy our beaches and oceans. At a deeper level, everyday plastic items carelessly disposed of are the tip of society’s throwaway-nature iceberg. We purchase cheap items which break easily, and then dispose of them irresponsibly. They end up in our waterways and oceans, and begin to break down – not disappear, just break down into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces, no matter how microscopic they get, never go away (there is not such place as away); instead, they affect ecosystems and food chains. The long term effects of this are still unknown, but they won’t be good.
CM: What kinds of plastic are found on the beaches, and are some more of an issue than others?
FS: In terms of its effect on the environment, plastic is plastic, and nature is as incapable of dealing with PET as it is HDPE or LDPE. I suppose bigger pieces have a lower chance of ending up in a bird’s stomach than balloons do, or up a turtle’s nose like a straw on that infamous video.
CM: Where does the plastic come from?
FS: People. It’s a simple as that. When you look at the negative impact plastic pollution is having not only on our beaches and oceans, but on the health of our entire planet, we only have ourselves to blame. Plastic has horrific impacts on our planet, from the extraction of crude oil through to its disposal (or lack of) through to its afterlife; our total over-dependence on ‘convenient’, cheap and disposable plastic products is anything but convenient for every other species with which we share this planet.
CM: What have you been doing about it?
FS: On a miniscule scale, I pick it up. Once you become aware of the problem, it becomes impossible to walk past a piece of plastic litter. I haven’t yet figured out if it is a habit or addiction…. Picking up plastic on the beach can make for an extremely slow walk but the constant bending down is beneficial to the bottom and thighs! I also collect all manner of rubbish on our streets; there’s so much in the vicinity of McDonalds in Belmont and on a Tuesday in my area there’s a steady stream of orange refuse tags to be collected that have been ripped off bins and tossed from the street collection. This system is aimed as a replacement for our orange refuse sacks, but has created a whole new problem.
CM: Apart from beach clean-ups, what do you think we can do collectively and individually to help reduce the problem?
FS: Beach clean ups last for 12 hours. A much more impactful method is not to drop rubbish, or better yet, not buy it. Living by the waste hierarchy of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (i.e. let the rubbish rot in the environment or landfill) is by far the best way to collectively reduce the problem of plastic pollution. Put simply, think before you purchase – is there a plastic-free option? Do you REALLY need it? Can it be reused or repurposed? Let others know your stance on plastic, and make your views known to retailers (we really do listen). The more we make our beliefs known and acted upon, the greater the ‘crusade’ becomes.
CM: Do you think this is a problem that can be solved – or are plastic-free beaches no more than a dream?
FS: Absolutely the problem of plastic pollution can be solved, through a combination of technology and consumer behaviour. Technological advances to clean up our oceans are fantastic, but they are the ambulance at the bottom of the hill. Changes in behaviour, by comparison, will present a long-term, sustainable solution. I firmly believe that one day the only place for single use plastic will be in a museum, and I will take my grandchildren to visit!
CM: Finally, are there materials other than plastics that are a concern?
FS: Clothing is another interesting one. The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the world. Fuelled by social media, trivial trends, and manipulative advertising, the fashion industry has selfishly created a mindset in people that they need to constantly buy new ‘stuff’ to be accepted. Workers are forced to work to ever-tightening timelines, the quality of materials does not need to be high, the environment is abused through the growing of cheap cotton or the extraction of oil to produce man-made fibre, not to mention the other end of the life cycle when it ends up carelessly thrown away.
In summary, I believe we can collectively change the world through our purchasing decisions. Buy once, buy well, buy to last. Repair rather than dispose, and when absolutely necessary, dispose of thoughtfully. We created this problem, and collectively we can solve it.
Word's fail me. Oh the irony of a New World bag dumped on the beach!
And finally, the sad bit...
I frequently ramble on in my newsletters, about my wonderful childhood in England, my love of all things British and how much I miss my elderly, adorable parents. I recently returned from a wonderful trip 'home', it was my best visit ever. The weather was glorious, I caught up with old friends and my parents put on a good show. Mum still mothered me and Dad was as lovely as ever. Dad likes a simple life, his garden, his shed , the sport on TV and a bottle of whisky. Unfortunately Dad did appear to be struggling and shortly after my return to to New Zealand it became apparent that he was not at all well. The last few weeks have all being rather stressful and upsetting and all rather a blur. My siblings flew 'home' from their homes in Sydney and Perth, my brother certainly drew the short straw and had to make extremely tough decisions. I am so sad... Dad passed away a couple of days ago, peacefully and at home. There won't be an obituary or death notice in the newspaper (mum and dad are extremely frugal and that would be an unnecessary expense) however, if there were such a notification it would say 'passed away peacefully, at home, after a short illness, and surrounded by his family.' You couldn't wish for more, but the fact that he was extremely elderly, had led a good life and was pottering in the garden just a few weeks ago, does not make it easier. My grief is so strong and goes to the very core of me. I'm useless at expressing my feelings, so I won't go on any longer. Needless to say, I am so sad.
I am heading back to England at the end of next week. Mum and Dad were married for 63 years and Mum will need all the comfort and support I can give. I am unsure how long I will be away. Marya and Olivia will be running the shop for me, I believe I am indispensable, but I have to admit that my 'girls' are super capable, they will ensure the shop runs smoothly and the till keeps ringing. Joking aside, small businesses, like mine, cannot survive in today's tough retail environment without the loyalty and support of all of you. Our relocation to Milford, some twelve months ago has really invigorated both myself and the business. and I would like to give a heartfelt THANK YOU for your custom this last year.
Patty, a rep' from the Naturally yarn company,(I would rather call her a Pal) gave me a poignantly named, and beautiful rose bush, which is now flowering profusely and giving gentle drifts of delicate perfume.
If I don't inflict another newsletter on you before the end of the year, may I wish you a peaceful Christmas, and a safe relaxing holiday period. (Don't forget to pack some knitting into your holiday luggage!)
Happy Knitting, Fran, Marya and Olivia.