As I get older there are certain things I realize I should put more time into researching so that I can make healthy decisions for both myself and my environment. Things like healthy food options, different ways to exercise, self-reflection, and sustainability.
Recently I decided to look a bit more into the idea of sustainability and how I might be able to practice that concept. During my research, one of the things that caught my attention was the importance of sustainable design.
And I know that most people sort of know what sustainability or sustainable design is. Or at least most people have an inkling of an idea of what it means. But I know I, personally, have never really taken the time to look deeper into its significance.
What does it mean? How do you practice it? Why is it important?
Well, according to the dictionary definition of the word…
Sustainability is the “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.”
So in practice, it’s using natural renewable resources for everyday products and necessities and leaving nonrenewable resources alone. (For the most part.) And sustainable design is something you can look for in a bunch of products you use. Products such as your clothing, your water bottles, the items you buy at the grocery store, as well as your jewelry!
So why is sustainable design important?
Here are a couple of facts I found that put it into perspective.
♦ It takes almost 500,000 liters of water to extract just 1 kg of gold
♦ It takes around 2,700 liters of water to make a single cotton t-shirt
♦ The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year.
Now think of those statistics in terms of full companies creating tons of products everyday.
It’s a little frightening to think about – all of that unnecessary waste!
And, in addition to sustainable design, when I started looking into jewelry, a lot of issues on ethical working conditions came up as well. Now I don’t want to claim to know a ton about ethical working conditions but I know enough to know that I want to be aware of what I’m supporting when I make purchases.
So because of that I decided to put together a list of great jewelry brands focused on developing sustainable product lines through ethical practices. I figure – if you have the choice between cute jewelry made with unethical environmental practices, and cute jewelry created using ethical environmental practices, you might as well go ethical.
Here’s what I found.
Ethical Jewelry Shops:
Price Range: $ – $$
Mission/Ethics: “Each piece of jewelry is handmade from start to finish in our Portland, Oregon, studio using recycled metals and non-toxic metalsmithing techniques. We try to operate as responsibly as possible and give back as much as we can. Currently 3% of every online sale is donated to humanitarian projects.”
Price Range: $ – $$
Mission/Ethics: “I support human life through buying ethical stones, and I help miners do what they love by giving them business. I help the planet by having recyclable packaging.” — Jessica Kramer, Owner
Price Range: $$ – $$$
Mission/Ethics: “Article22 celebrates stories of positive transformation and makes real impact through jewelry handmade in Laos. We partner with artisans in off-the-beaten track places to create modern heirlooms that are beautiful and meaningful.”
One Happy Leaf
Price Range: $
Mission/Ethics: “I’m on a mission to make the world a greener place. For every order placed, a tree is planted on your behalf. The trees are planted in areas requiring rehabilitation or ecological diversity to provide homes for cute animals. Yep, you can sleep well at night knowing that your purchase made the world that little bit better!” — Anna, Owner
Price Range: $$$
Mission/Ethics: “To me being an ethical company is more than just the materials I use, it’s about mindset. Metalicious is an eco-conscious company so I use reclaimed/recycled fine metals and ethically sourced gemstones in my work. I also use green practices in running my business as much as possible from the copy paper I use to the recyclable shipping mailers.” — Stephanie, Owner
Edge of Ember
Price Range: $$$
Mission/Ethics: “We work with artisan workshops and small-scale factories that are run in an ethical manner, that employ craftsmen superbly skilled in their trade. Our fashion choices have a real impact on people and the environment, so we make sure that our production processes are kind to the people that make it.”
Price Range: $ – $$
Mission/Ethics: “We believe what you buy is a conscious choice to support something—and we know we can make a significant impact with the collective effort of our community. That’s why we make it a priority to donate at least 10% of our profits to causes that matter to us. Beyond giving back, we’re setting a new standard for happy, fair and ethical workplaces.”
It is always good to know what you are supporting!
And that goes for all of the products you purchase! It is our responsibility as consumers to research what we are supporting so we know what we are contributing to.
I personally have purchased a few necklaces from GLDN and can fully say they are adorable, well-made, and are created with a personal touch.
Do you have any favorite sustainable jewelry shops you turn to?
Please let me know!
(Or – if you have any favorite sustainable companies in general – please let me know as well!)
— a twenty something