Much like when I published my blog post last month about being an eco-tourist, I wanted to write something around sustainable fashion, but more specifically ethical jewellery. With the recent climate strikes taking place around the world, in relation to climate change, I wanted to pull together a blog post which focuses on the more sustainable way we can enjoy fashion, but without destroying the environment.
For the last decade, the fast fashion industry has brought about a culture of repeatedly buying poorly-made ‘trendy’ jewellery that is thrown out after a few wears, wasting resources and exposing ourselves to toxic materials. Thankfully, the focus on sustainability and protecting our environment has been at the forefront of our minds, and if the last 12 months is anything to go by, it’s more clear than ever, that we can’t ignore the huge conversation around ethical fashion and the ethical jewellery.
It has raised a lot of questions around the environmental impact of fast fashion, both to our world and those that produce the items all over the world. The ethics of the jewellery we choose to wear is a topic which we must speak more about, and therefore to make things just that bit easier I have pulled together my ultimate guide to ethical jewellery in collaboration with the lovely guys at Life Less Ordinary.
What is ethical jewellery?
Ethical jewellery means that the production of the jewellery has no negative impact on the people who make it, or the environment they’re produced in.
- Using materials you can trace back to the source, to ensure they’ve been produced in an ethical way, eg. fair trade materials and conflict-free diamonds
- Using recycled materials such as gemstones
- Using synthetic diamonds
- Not using child labour and ensuring fair wages and working hours
- Not using practices that pollute or impact the environment in a negative way
How do I buy Ethical Jewellery?
The questions we must ask ourselves are: how our jewellery was made? Where did the materials come from? Whose hands has it touched? What environment was it made in? Whose lives has it affected? And these questions open up a world of answers, with many designer brands, or high street stores getting jewellery made in third world countries, where they pay them next to nothing, in awful conditions and often are also at risk from harmful toxins and products.
Sustainable Fashion is simply about creating jewellery that can be fully recycled or biodegraded, whilst also maximizing the use of surplus, dead-stock, up-cycled and otherwise wasted materials from both the jewellery industry and other industries.
Life Less Ordinary
Life Less Ordinary are an ethical, personalised jewellery company that was born of a love of travel and a desire to do something different. The founders, Amie and Joe, wanted to change their lives so they quit their jobs, sold their house and went travelling the world to figure out what they wanted to do. On their adventure, they came across the tagua seed, an amazing material known as vegetable ivory. It is a seed that grows on palms in Ecuador and has all the properties of ivory, yet it is cruelty free and ethical. They knew they had hit on something great so (after a good amount of time spent on beautiful beaches) they headed home to Brighton to start designing jewellery.
Their jewellery is inspired by travel, adventure and the love of the unique. Almost everything they make can be personalised and everything is handmade. They only use ethically sourced materials. Even the little cotton bags their travel bracelets come in are fair trade. They only work with companies that guarantee fair wages and good working conditions. Creating ethical jewellery is so important to them, having seen for themselves the impact that compassionate business can have.
Because they also wanted to do some good, they give 10% of their net profits to charity supporting Indigo Volunteers. They are also in the process of designing a range for Reserva Youth Land Trust, an organisation that is saving the rainforest in Ecuador, the very place their amazing seeds come from!
Travel has been such a bit part of their lives and when they started Life Less Ordinary they were looking for away to carry their travel memories with them. ‘Fernweh’ -the name they have given to their coordinates range of travel bracelets- literally means ‘a longing for distant places’.
The campervan was inspired by a muddy trip to Glastonbury festival, the lotus by a yoga retreat in Sri Lanka and the starling necklace by the bird in their home town of Brighton. Every piece of their ethical jewellery has a meaning and they hope to help other people to capture their most extraordinary moments through their personalised and unique travel jewellery.
Note: Remember to make the most of everything you already own first, swap or borrow clothes from friends, browse through some of our favorite secondhand or consignment shops or thrift stores near you, or buy from a brand such a Life Less Ordinary and buy jewellery made from product like the Tagua Seed.
So now you know the basics of buying ethical jewellery, make sure you check out the wonderful team at Life Less Ordinary whether you are looking for a present to yourself, or a gift to a loved one, especially with the festive season approaching. The beautiful jewellery that these guys produce, while encouraging change and supporting sustainable, will also look great on your mother, friend, sister and grandmother. And ethical practices mean that you never need to sacrifice aesthetics for your values.
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