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.