What is Sustainable & Ethical Jewelry & How Can We As Consumers Be More Sustainable?
As Earth Day approaches I wanted to share some of my process of becoming more sustainable and ethical both as a jewelry designer and as an individual in my personal life.
Laura Elizabeth started over a decade ago and as the brand has matured, I’ve found that voice is not just my designs but my approach to sustainability.
Laura Elizabeth pieces are inspired by nature, so how can I not give back to it?
My belief has always been that sustainability is a balance between practice and design. I’ve been steadily working not just to grow the brand but to make it as sustainable and ethical as possible.
How is Laura Elizabeth an ethical and sustainable brand?
- Using recycled metal and a process that leaves a smaller carbon footprint.
- Using materials and packaging that are made from reclaimed material that are also recyclable, compostable and biodegradable.
- Making the product locally (within the US).
- The jewelry is cleaned with household, non-toxic products.
- Ethical and transparent working standards, including a living wage for workers.
- A percentage of every sale is donated to a non-profit of the customer’s choice.
Silva, my caster plays a big role in the creative and sustainable process. Silva, I trust. Her eye for quality materials, ethical processes, and her overall contribution to the brand make our relationship strong - personally and professionally. See my conversation with Silva here.
It’s not something you find every day, and I share her information with other designers wherever I can to help others become more sustainable. I know that others may not always want to give up that kind of information and keep it close to their chest, but I don’t hide Silva because I believe we’re all here to learn and grow from each other’s experiences. And together can we make a bigger impact for Mother Earth.
Sustainability is about learning, and this is what I’ve found:
I want each and every person who is considering buying from me to understand how their purchase is a symbol of a larger choice, of being conscientious of our environment and our future.
Connecting with others on platforms like Clubhouse has been incredible, and it’s where I’ve learned (and continue to learn!) more about sustainable packaging, where I can improve, and how I can make the brand better and serve the environment as well.
Ultimately, it’s a responsibility:
- To ourselves as a business to operate with integrity.
- To you as a consumer to provide ethically made products under fair trade conditions.
- To the environment in the materials used and the way products are created.
So, what’s the future look like?
As Laura Elizabeth grows, I realize that humility is a big part of running a brand. I know that I will never know everything or stop learning and asking questions that are uncomfortable, but need to be asked.
As I continue to learn, I continue to change my business practices and improve. And where possible, I’m here to share what I’ve learned with you so that you can follow along on this journey and be a part of something bigger.
If I could give you my top tips about what I’ve learned...
- Think about where the product you are purchasing is produced, and whether the people who are involved are treated and paid fairly. Be wary of greenwashing! Transparency is key.
- Using recycled products where possible and adopting a zero-waste creation process.
- Opting for packaging options such as paper tape, recyclable and biodegradable packaging elements.
- Giving back to the community where possible. When you buy or produce locally, you are supporting your economy while not hurting our environment by flying halfway across the globe.
- Seek out ways to improve your sustainability efforts - I would recommend the Sustainability club on Clubhouse and if you are a jewelry designer, I recommend the Responsible Jewelry club and organizations such as The Responsible Jewelry Council.
- Little gestures count! The way you purchase and store your jewelry matters. Think classic/timeless in style, high quality and durable so it lasts longer. Taking care of what you already have, is sustainable, because you will wear it longer, and therefore not toss as much into our landfills.