By Supriya Shirsat Satam
Jewellery has always been associated with glamour and beauty, but beneath the sparkle lies a dark truth of forced labour, adverse environmental impact and unsustainable practices. We can help restore the balance by embracing the new wave of vegan and sustainable jewellery industry. By supporting these budding independent companies, we can help in shaping a healthier industry – one that places the importance of the environment and its workers first.
Jewellery has been a statement adornment since traditional days and continues to capture our modern world with the same fervour. While the industry continues to grow at an insurmountable pace, it is important for us to recognize the issues that plague our industry and take steps to create a brighter and more sustainable future. From environmental waste produced by the traditional industry to unfair labour practices and the material impact, it is time to take an honest look at what drives the industry we love so much.
How the traditional jewellery industry affects the environment
It may come as a surprise to you, but traditional jewellery production can have a negative environmental impact. The mining practices used to gather materials for jewellery production are often incredibly resource-intensive and non-renewable. This can lead to water contamination, soil destabilisation, deforestation, and much more.
Additionally, many of the metals used in traditional jewellery production can have detrimental effects on our environment due to their chemical makeup. These metals often contain toxins that are released out into our environment causing massive amounts of air and water pollution.
The excessive exploitation of seashells for pearls, and the slaughtering of animals for hides and other body parts for jewellery also raises serious ethical questions.
Fortunately, industry experts and governments from around the world have worked together to introduce ethical and safe standards and procedures for sourcing and supply of raw materials.
What is sustainable and vegan jewellery and why must one consider them?
Sustainable and vegan jewellery offers an environmentally conscious alternative to traditional jewellery.
Sustainable jewellery takes into account the entire supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials to the development of the end product, with the goal of minimising waste, reducing carbon footprint, and conserving natural resources. This is often achieved through the use of recycled or upcycled materials, responsible mining practices, and sustainable manufacturing processes.
On the other hand, ethical jewellery focuses on the social impact of the supply chain, ensuring fair treatment of workers, providing a living wage, and ensuring safe and healthy working conditions. This includes the use of conflict-free and fair-trade materials and the adoption of responsible labour practices.
Sustainable and ethical jewellery share similar goals of creating a positive impact that benefits the environment. In many cases, sustainable and ethical jewellery also prioritise animal welfare by using vegan materials or ethically sourced animal products. Vegan Jewellery does not promote the usage of pearls, feathers, animal skin, etc., but uses ethically sourced cork and other plant-based materials that are upcycled from waste. There is a growing market for cruelty-free jewellery and several companies are catering to the diverse needs of consumers.
The benefits are innumerable when it comes to opting for sustainable and vegan jewellery. To start with, vegan and sustainable jewellery is responsible for a very small amount of carbon footprint contribution. As stated earlier, traditional jewellery production contributes to the emission of a lot of pollutants into the environment of which a majority is carbon dioxide. Sustainable jewellery producers believe in bringing down wastage strategically by using only what is required in each design. They also practise reusing or repurposing metals, if possible, to bring down waste effectively. Sustainable jewellery that is made using state-of-the-art new-age technology-based production also helps bring down CO2 emission meteorically.
Sustainable jewellery that is plant based, not only prioritises conscious production processes, but also takes into consideration the customer’s skin sensitivity levels. For instance, jewellery made from sustainable and vegan cork is hypoallergenic and suitable for all skin types including kids.
When it comes to fashion, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends and newest products, but considering the environment can also be an important factor. The key to success lies in conscious consumerism. Taking the time to research and purchase from innovative companies that are working to create a greener, more ethical industry is the most impactful way to support a future of sustainable jewellery. From using renewable energy sources to using ethically-sourced materials, shopping with purpose can go a long way.
Consumers can now look out for conscious brands that offer sustainable and vegan jewellery, taking into account non-cruel practices and fairly compensated manpower with minimal environmental impact. While still a relatively new concept, the increasing popularity of sustainable and vegan products underscores their potential significance in the years to come.
Choosing sustainable and vegan jewellery is not only a great way to make an eco-friendly statement, but also helps to make ethical choices without compromising on style.
About the Author : Supriya Shirsat Satam is the Founder & CEO, FOReT