A few months ago we did a post about fast fashion and how it has a massive impact of the environemnt and moreover, the people. Women are working extreme hours in extreme conditions for that favourite H&M outfit for only a few dollars a day. In recent years, since the release of The True Cost, many people are choosing slow fashion and capsule wardrobes as a way to curb their own hand in the fast fashion pot.
But what about jewellery?
While jewellery has over the years been seen as an investment it is slowly peeking its head in the fast fashion scene. With the introduction of 3D printing and scanning, brands can copy and produce fashion trends at a staggering rate. Brands like ASOS, H&M, Zara, Top Shop and others are offering jewellery items at extremely low costs, appealing to the masses. You can now buy what Ariana Granda wore to some event 2 weeks ago.
But is it worth it? Not only are you becoming a carbon copy of everyone elses wearing the same thing, but you are supporting an industry that is harmful towards the environment and also creating massive amounts of waste each year. Cheap jewellery items are only worn a few times and discarded to buy new ones. Its the wasteful culture that has arisen in the 21st century. And this new obsessive must have attitude is pouring into our landfills and poisoning our rivers.
What is cheap jewellery made from?
Most of the cheap jewellery you buy is made from… you guessed it… cheap materials. And moreover, other nasty things. An independent group, Ecology Center, tested cheap jewellery from various such as H&M, Claire’s, Forever 21 and others. When the tests came back they were shocked. Some of the worlds most well studied poisonous substances are lurking in these items and whats worse, in kids jewellery too.
Here is an extract from the study More than half of low-cost jewellery ranks HIGH for toxic chemicals done by The Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health and the Ecology Center
- OVERALL — 59 percent (58) of products tested were rated as having HIGH level of concern due the presence of one or more hazardous chemical detected at high levels.
- LEAD — 27 of 99 (27 percent) of jewelry contained greater than 300 ppm lead in one or more components. 300 ppm is the CPSC limit of lead in children’s products.
- CADMIUM — 10 of 99 (10 percent) of jewelry contained greater than 100 ppm cadmium in one or more components.
- CHROMIUM — 92 of 95 (93 percent) of jewelry contained greater than 100 ppm chromium.
- NICKEL — 30 of 95 (30 percent) of jewelry contained greater than 100 ppm nickel.
- BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS — 7 of 95 (7 percent) of jewelry contained brominated flame retardants (greater than 1,000 ppm bromine).
- CHLORINE — One-third, 11 of 95 (12 percent) of jewelry contained PVC (greater than 25,000 ppm chlorine).
You can still enjoy jewellery
The idea is not to stop enjoying beautiful adornment but to choose the source more carefully and choose timeless pieces. One should aim to buy earrings, necklaces, rings and so on in designs that you can wear with many items and that you can see yourself wearing for many many years to come. Be a smart shopper. Know what you like. Minimal or more flashy? Gold, rose gold, white gold or silver? Or maybe some funky new designs made from upcycled rubber or other materials? And stand proud. Don’t allow yourself to feel like wearing fewer pieces over many events makes you less trendy or “in”. It makes you timeless. And being ethical makes you a bad-ass conscious women.
Here are some brands that are ahead of the times (or back in the times before this fast fashion obsession). These pieces are no doubtedly going to be more expensive than fast fashion jewellery but as mentioned before, its about having a timeless, classic and solid collection that will last for years to come. So take some years to build it rather than expect to have it all now. A part of changing the times and moving towards more sustainable fashion is to take your time and appreciate the journey. We dont need to have everything right now. Enjoy the journey of building your ultimate capsule wardrobe and your timeless jewellery collection.
These brand are authentic designers doing their own thing. They have studied the craft and offer beautiful pieces. As a lover of art myself, jewellery is another form creation and expression and you can really find some beautiful pieces that match your personality and styel. Not that of some pop star. Be you. Support local deigners. Support ethical slow fashion.
Start a jewellery swop with your friends
One thing I ove about Facebook are the many clothing swops available. Despite a piece being old for one person, its still new for another. A fantastic way to reduce consumption and save money for things that matter! However I have to say, afetr searching I could not find any groups about jewellery? So this is your chance to start something new and unique. A slow jewellery swop. Swop old items of good quality peices with people and in return find something new. I am not talking about diamonds or family eirlooms but those odd rings, earrings or necklaces that could be used elsewhere.
What to do with old jewellery?
As you move towards yuor ethical and sustainable collection, you will want to get rid of old jewellery that you dont want anymore. Dont chuck it in the bin! There are other options available. Marie Curie Cancer Centre and Oxfam both accept odds and ends as well as broken pieces. They will either fix it and resell or alternatively sell it as raw materials. This is the best thing you can do, creating a closed circle where no new raw materials are used and materials are reused in production.
Be the change
Observing social media and the way people talk about things, very few people actually want to take any action. Be that person that does. Show your family and friends that fast fashion and jewellery is not cool. Buying something for a pound may feel great in that moment, but what about how you are going to feel when you face the women in third world countries sewing those pieces together in extremely unsafe conditions for next to nothing wages. Or be told that your body is polluted with heavy metals. We need to look neyond the products we buy and question where they come from and who and what it affects.
It is tough no doubt. Facing the reality of the meat and dairy industry was one of the most difficult things I have ever faced. The guilt tore me up inside but the social challenge fo “coming out” was also not easy. But years on, becoming ethically committed is the best thing I have ever done. And it will be for you too.
If you have any recommendations or additions please feel free to contact us. We aim to create a community of conscious like minded people.