Is "Environmentally-Friendly" too Trendy?
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Hello all! How is that for an argumentative title? Don't worry, I am not saying that it is not important to consider the environment in everything you do. It is definitely important and can never be too important. Unfortunately, the term "Environmentally-Friendly" does not always represent everything we consumers are expecting. We all know that there are many manufacturers out there that say they conduct their business in an environmentally conscious way because it is on trend, and now more than ever.
Every year more manufacturers hop on the eco bandwagon and wave their "green" flags proudly to entice customers to buy their products.
It is all about supply and demand. They produce what we want. The consuming populous cannot be asked to stop buying, nor can they fully understand the intricacies of environmental sciences and mass production processes.
So what are consumers to do?
I believe it is up to those that produce products to constantly consider the consequences of the production and the effect it has on our environment.
Take the Jewellery industry for example. Jewelry production is actually an incredibly damaging industry for the environment. Much of this devastation occurs during the metal extraction process. When precious metals are mined, the soil’s surface is stripped, which causes erosion, sinkholes, soil contamination, and a loss of biodiversity. In addition, the harsh chemicals used in mining causes serious damage to local ecosystems.
In developing countries, like India or China, where regulations are less severe or less well enforced, metal mining can lead to lead poisoning, or heavy metal soil contamination.
So we should ask ourselves are the mass producers, major manufacturers of jewellery really considering every aspect of the production, sales and delivery of their products in relation to its effect on the environment? Will they continue to produce on mass using products mined in harmful ways? Are they looking for options that can be produced without harming the planet? I would argue that most do not.
Luckily for consumers there is another option in the jewellery industry, small businesses, independent jewelers, or jewellery artisans who make a very deliberate effort to reduce pollution and create responsibly. Many independent creators understand the benefit to recycling, repurposing and reusing as much of their materials, supplies and tools as possible. We use every scrap of material possible and send any unused material in to be recycled and reused. The reality is that most really cannot afford to be wasteful, and in turn create in a way that is better for the environment.
As a conscious jeweler you can use products that are not harmful or wasteful and these products are less expensive and safer than purchasing the ready made supplies. You come to understand the impact of using non-renewable materials and how to reduce dependencies on these resources. Additionally, there are many organizations that encourage independent jewelers to use fair trade metals, ethically mined products and environmentally safe products.
I am proud to say I am an independent jeweler who truly understands the value of being environmentally friendly not only because I have no other option, or that it is trendy, but because it is the right thing to do for my business and my planet.
Here are some of the ways I work to reduce my carbon footprint:
Purchase and promote Fair Trade Metals
Buy responsibly sourced gemstones
Provide paperless sales options and advertise using online campaigns
Purchase previously used equipment
Use recycled containers, jewellery, supplies
Use recycled packaging
Use natural products
Purchase secondhand supplies and materials
Studied to become a Fair Trade Gold Ambassador
Continuously look for new ways to create consciously
Environmentally-friendly Gemstone information: