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Absolutely not-fabulous – why fast-fashion jewellery is harming the planet

Not just your wardrobe … Have you considered what your putting in your jewellery box?

It is no big secret that the fashion industry has a detrimental effect on the planet, particularly highlighted by the environmental movement that is unfolding across the globe in 2019. The fast-fashion, or ‘throwaway’ fashion, trend has been facing heavy criticism for producing products without much of a thought for the environmental damage they may cause.

Toxic chemicals, dangerous dyes, thousands of litres of water and a huge carbon footprint, are among the numerous issues that a ‘responsible’ fashion industry should be trying to tackle. These cheap, quick and easy, fast-fashion products end up in landfill on a huge scale, with 300,000 tonnes of clothing being sent to landfill in the UK in 2016, according to a Guardian piece. And numerous plastic bits floating around our seas.

The problem does not begin nor end with the clothing industry; the jewellery industry is just as much a part of the fast-fashion world.  Cheap and cheerful jewellery, as it is quipped, is perhaps not so cheap and cheerful after all, with a great cost to the environment. Silver-plated or gold-plated jewellery, such as bangles and earrings, quickly lose their plating and expose the cheaper metals they’re really made of – often turning your skin green in the process and ending up in landfill, not forgetting the nasty chemicals used in hate plating process that will rewashed away in to our water systems. Fast-fashion rings with plastic ‘gem stones’ that fall out after you’ve worn them a few times, and necklaces made of plastic pearls and the large plastic earrings that are a fashion must have at the moment, will all end up in the bin when they’ve cracked, snapped, or broken. Not only are these products disposed of quickly but are made of materials (mainly plastics) that do not biodegrade and will spend their lifetime in the landfill releasing toxic chemicals into the air. The poor-quality jewellery, bought to match an outfit for the weekend, or to complete a festival look or a fancy dress outfit, will be thrown away or left behind without a second thought. These plastic gem stones are often glued in place with nasty and harmful chemicals, making them a double if not triple whammy of environmental pollution. Chunky plastic bangles to pile on your wrists can look ‘oh so chic’, but when they last no more than a few days and end up in landfill for hundreds of years, not to mention how / where and the conditions in which these fast fashion jewellery pieces were initially made … the question must be asked, are they worth it? These cheap high-street products don’t last, and the consumer is definitely not getting their money’s worth.  

It is the consumer though, who has the power in this race to save the planet. You have the choice to shop more sustainably for jewellery as we are being told to do for fashion. Investing your money in jewellery that will last you a lifetime, means you immediately and significantly reduce the amount you are sending to landfill and your carbon footprint. We are willing to bet that you will spend less money in the long run anyway. 

Buying jewellery that is made from responsibly sourced gold, silver and platinum, and using ethically sourced gemstones, will give you better quality jewellery that will last you a life time. Each piece will become a treasure with a story of its own; a unique gem in a collection that you can love, knowing you’ve helped the planet in the mean-time. Second-hand and preloved clothes are big on the sustainable fashion scene, and the same is possible with jewellery. Buying a vintage piece means no new resources are used, but you can still have a new treasure to behold. Reworking these vintage pieces gives you a twist on a classic – a new tale to tell for a piece that has lived a life before. Whilst we appreciate good quality jewellery is not “cheap” to buy why not have the same though process as we are beginning to be aware of with the clothing industry, A few key pieces will last you a lifetime and choosing items that reflect you or the person you are buying for’s personality will always compliment any outfit you or they wear.

There is a long way to go before claiming complete sustainability, and it is important as a business to be able to acknowledge points where improvements can be made. Being so keenly aware, as we all now are, of the problems of plastic pollution, it is disheartening to see ethically sourced, natural materials shipped in plastic packaging. We believe that it is integral, that as jewellers we do our upmost to make sure that as much as possible, on our end, we use minimal plastic in our products. Using recyclable cardboard packaging and organza bags that can be used by the customer to reuse when storing their own jewellery are just two of many alternatives to plastic packaging.

Some products that have to be used in the jewellery industry are not great, whichever way you look at them. Therefore, it is important to be willing to use a more sustainable alternative where there is one – the industry should always be on the lookout for ways in which it can be more environmentally friendly. We have recently switched to “Picklean” supplied by cooksongold which is a revolutionary new safety pickle made from 100% non-toxic, food grade materials, source stones from trustworthy suppliers, a lot of which we know personally, re-use as many of the plastic sealy bags that materials come in for organised storage and use recyclable card boxes from Tiny Box Company although currently we have yet to source the fill pads for our jewellery box made form a recyclable material .. if you know of any please let us know! The companies that bridge the gap in-between “High Street” and “High End” just like us are working hard to produce hand-made, sustainable, affordable and wonderful pieces of jewellery for you to love. 

There is so much we can do as consumers to make a change – after all it takes many waterdrops to make a wave. A shift in consumer value, interests and pressures will eventually lead to the big brands making better choices, of which our environment is at the heart. Fight back against fast-fashion jewellery. Supporting local business that hand-make and sell sustainable and environmentally responsible jewellery benefits both you and the environment. It’s a win-win, in our opinion. 

We would like to point out that we were unable to find any actual stats in jewellery waste when researching for this blog post it seems that fast fashion jewellery may be slipping through the net .. and links for “Bloggers Favourites’ Stylist Pics” for jewellery related produces are all directing you to fast fashion brands which has really saddened us and we would love to start making a change to this! Bloggers & Stylists out there get in touch we would LOVE to get this change in to motion.

Creative Writing:  www.tysonhannah.wordpress.com & Tegen Foote

Imagery: Pinterest & Tegen Jewellery Own