5 Tips for Defining Your Personal Style | Creating an Ethical Wardrobe

When I started trying to create an ethical and sustainable wardrobe, a few years ago, I had a major shopping problem.

I also had ZERO sense of my personal style. I treated clothing more like a costume, like a character I would be for the day rather than a true extension of myself.

When I first learned about the problems with fast fashion, I donated most of my clothes to adopt a simple, versatile 18 piece wardrobe.

5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion

It did not go according to plan. I HATED it, you can read more about it in this post. And, I’ve been slowly figuring things out since then.

It’s been about a year that I’ve really started learning personal style, color scheme, understanding what I do and don’t like about clothing, and of course nailing that ever elusive personal style.

I feel like I’m finally, FINALLY hitting a pretty good rhythm. My personal style has developed by creating boundaries.

Many times when you think about personal style, you think about what you like. For me, I love power suits, frilly dresses, boho chic, edgy, vintage, preppy - I love ALL of the styles. But, it’s not necessarily practical for me to wear a power suit when I work from home.

And, I hear you, “Wear what you love!!” But, honestly, I’m not going to sit around my house and go to the grocery store in a suit. I’m just not going to do it when my old pair of jeans and a sweater sound sooooo comfy.

It’s not about what I like, it’s about what I do.

5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion

1. dress for what you do:

Many of us get caught up in the fantasy idea of dressing for who we want to be rather than dressing for who we are.

My best recommendation is to sit down and write out the activities that you normally participate in. My list looked something like this.

  • work from home/weekend (7x a week)

  • attend client meetings (1-2x a week)

  • speaking/panel discussions/interviews (1-2x a month)

  • go out with friends/date night/party (1-2x a week)

  • dressier (1-2x a month)

From this list you can tell that the majority of my wardrobe should probably be jeans and sweaters.

When we go to our closet and think, “I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!?” It’s because we haven’t bought appropriate clothes for the certain occasions.

Once you’ve figured out your categories, you can start putting together outfits that fall into each of these categories, and figure out where you have holes in your wardrobe.

  • work from home/weekend - typically jeans/pants, simple top/sweater, casual dress

  • attend client meetings - a little more formal, typically no denim

  • speaking/panel discussions/interviews - NO denim, blazers, silk shirts, slacks

  • go out with friends/date night/party - skirts, dresses

  • dressier - cocktail attire

I’m currently going through my closet creating outfits and putting them in one of these categories. I also have themed categories for costumes… but that’s because I’m a theatre kid and more than half of our parties have themes….

But, I figured that’s probably only relevant to me, and theatre kids everywhere.

5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion

2. get realistic about the weather:

This is my personal denial. Which I guess to say, if you’re in denial about anything, then it’s time to come clean to yourself.

I realized that I’m always living like I’m leaving. I’ve moved over 20 times. I’ve moved 5x in the last 5 years. I’ve never stayed in a place longer than a year, so I prevent myself from truly settling in and creating a true home with my space.

And, I’ve treated my closet the same way. I am from Arkansas. It is either hot or cold. It isn’t hot and cold in the same day unless there’s an unusual weather event.

In Northern California, it is consistently hot and cold in the same day. You wake up with it being 40 degrees then it heats up to 78 or 80 and everything bakes because there’s no A/C and when the evening comes around the fog has rolled in and it’s dropped back down to 40.

You have to dress in layers, and my wardrobe has never been layerable. So, now I’m shopping with layers in mind, and I’m thinking about how my wardrobe has to come together because most outfits will need four pieces.

  • Top

  • Bottom

  • 1st layer (typically a sweater)

  • Outer layer (a coat or jacket)

5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion

3. know your pain points:

Ah, yes, the pain points. This is where I realized how petty and particular I am. Honestly, I HATE how finicky I am, but it’s better to be honest with yourself about all your quirks upfront so you don’t wind up wasting your money on something you never end up wearing.

You’re going to read this list and think I’m out of my mind, but the fact is every piece of clothing that meets this criteria gets about 100x more wear than the pieces that don’t.

  • HATE clothing that has to be fidgeted with

  • I have to be able to walk at LEAST a mile in any pair of shoes comfortable (i.e block heels, no taller than 2-3”)

  • natural fibers (NO POLY!) Favorite fibers are wool, viscose, tencel

  • In summer, I don’t like wearing sleeves under the 1st layer

  • Really like white tops with colored and unique bottoms

  • Tops MUST be fitted or at least tailored

  • Can’t stand shoulder details that prevent you from layering

  • Have white husky who’s hair gets on everything. (!) EVERYTHING (!)

ACTION ITEM! Pour yourself a glass of wine, beer, kombucha, whatever floats your boat and get serious about the things that drive you nuts, and the things you LOVE.

5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion

4. discover what flatters you:

Do you know your body shape? If you don’t, measure your bust, waist, and hips. With a quick google search you see what styles flatter your proportions. I’ve struggled a bit with ethical fashion because many of the shapes just aren’t flattering to my body shape.

I’m pear shaped which means that my hips are larger than my bust. If I wear a shirt that’s large and open at the bottom, it tends to exaggerate how large my hips are.

And, I love my hips and my booty! I’m not trying to hide or disguise them, but I do want to look proportional and balanced. I also want to show off and highlight my small waist. And, wearing shapeless shirts tends to hide the part of my body that I want show off.

Not necessarily literally showing it off, but accentuating it with the clothing that I’m wearing.

Knowing what I want to highlight, really helps me shop for clothing.

ACTION ITEM! Take some time to figure out what parts of your body you’d like to highlight. Maybe that’s your arms or waist or legs! Whatever it is, once you figure it out you’ll

5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion

5. color palette:

This year, I got really serious about a color palette. To make sure I was on the right track I went to see Donna Fujii who does color analysis.

It was such a fun experience, I went with some friends and left with a swatch book of shades that look best for my coloring. Thankfully, I was already on the right track color wise, but after that appointment I narrowed it down to my favorite colors.

  • Blush Pink

  • Navy Blue

  • Baby Blue

  • Wine Red

Now, when I go to the thrift store, I only look at these color sections. I don’t look at the green or purple sections because I know I don’t really reach for those colors and they won’t play into the color palette that I’ve already built for myself.

5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion

If you want to follow along with me building out my sustainable and ethical wardrobe please give me a follow on my other instagram account!

build a wonder wardrobe:

If you’re still struggling, my friend Daria from Wonder Wardrobe has created an awesome e-course to teach you how to make a flattering, coordinating wardrobe that works for you.

I just started the course and I’m really interested in learning how to make my pieces more interchangeable. She makes these wardrobes for YouTube and it’s absolutely fascinating! I LOVE her channel. Seriously, it’s mesmerizing to watch - check out this video.

 
5 Tips for Defining your Personal Style | Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe from www.goingzerowaste.com #sustainable #ethical #fashion #personalstyle #style #sustainablefashion
 

Which is Better For The Environment? Glass or Plastic?

When you look up zero waste, you’re bound to notice tons and tons of pictures of glass jars everywhere. From the trash jar to the jars lining our pantries, glass is pretty popular in the zero waste community.

But what’s our obsession with glass? Is it really so much better for the environment than plastic? 

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

Plastic tends to get a really bad rep from environmentalists – that's got a lot to do with the fact only 9 percent of it is recycled. That said, there’s so much more to think about in terms of what goes into manufacturing and recycling both glass and plastic, not to mention its afterlife. 

Which is truly the eco-friendliest choice when you get down to it, glass or plastic? Well, perhaps the answer isn’t as clear cut as you may think.

glass:

Let's start by analyzing every zero waster’s beloved material: Glass.

First, it’s important to note that glass is endlessly recyclable, back to its original use. It never loses its quality and purity, no matter how many times it’s recycled…. but is it actually being recycled?

problems with glass:

First up, making new glass requires sand. While we have tons of sand on beaches, deserts and under the ocean, we’re using it faster than the planet can replenish it. 

We use sand more than we use oil, and only a specific kind of sand can be used to get the job done (no, desert sand can’t be used). Mostly, sand is harvested from riverbeds and seabeds.

Taking sand out of the natural environment also disrupts the ecosystem, considering microorganisms live on it which feed the base of the food chain. 

Removing sand from the seabed leaves shore communities open to flooding and erosion. Since we need sand to create new glass, you can see where this would be an issue.

Another problem with glass? Glass is heavier than plastic, and breaks much easier during transit. This means it produces more emissions in transportation than plastic, and costs more to transport.

Yet another thing to consider is most glass isn’t actually recycled. In fact, only 33 percent of waste glass is recycled in America. When you consider 10 million metric tons of glass is disposed of every year in America, that’s not a very high recycling rate. 

There are many reasons glass recycling is so low: Glass put into the recycling bin is used as a cheap landfill cover to keep costs low; Consumers participating in “wish-cycling” where they toss non-recyclables into the recycling bin and contaminate the entire bin; Colored glass can only be recycled and melted down with like-colors; Windows and Pyrex bakeware are not recyclable because of the way it’s manufactured to withstand high temperatures.  

Last but not least, glass takes one million years to decompose in the environment, perhaps even more in a landfill. 

In total, that’s about four major problems with glass that impact the environment. Now, let’s analyze the lifecycle of glass bit closer.

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

raw materials: 

Glass is made from all-natural resources, such as sand, soda ash, limestone and recycled glass. However, it is important to note that we’re running out of the sand that’s used to make glass in the first place. Worldwide, we go through 50 billion tons of sand every year. That is twice the amount produced by every river in the world.

Once these raw materials are harvested, they’re transported to a batch house where they are inspected and then sent to the furnace for melting where they’re heated to 2600 to 2800 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterwards, they go through a conditioning, forming and finishing process before becoming the final product.

Once the final product is created, it’s transported so it can be washed and sterilized, then transported again to stores for sale or use. Once it comes to its end of life, it’s (hopefully) collected and recycled. Unfortunately, each year only one-third of the roughly 10 million metric tons of glass that Americans throw away is recycled. The rest goes to a landfill.

When glass is collected and recycled, it has to begin this process of being transported, going through batch preparation, and everything else that follows again.

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

emissions + energy:

As you can imagine, this entire process to make glass, especially using virgin materials, takes up a lot of time, energy and resources. Also, the amount of transporting the glass has to go through adds up too, creating more emissions in the long run.

A lot of the furnaces used to create glass also run on fossil fuels, thus creating a lot of pollution.

The total fossil fuel energy consumed to make glass in North America, primary energy demand (PED), averaged to 16.6 megajoule (MJ) per 1 kilogram (kg) of container glass produced. The global warming potential (GWP), aka climate change, averaged to 1.25 MJ per 1 kg of container glass produced. These numbers encompass every stage of the packaging life cycle for glass.

If you’re wondering, a megajoule (MJ) is a unit of energy equivalent to one million joules. A property’s gas usage is measured in megajoules and is recorded using a gas meter.

To put the carbon footprint measurements I gave into perspective a little better, 1 liter of gasoline is equal to 34.8 megajoules, High Heating Value (HHV). In other words, it takes less than a liter of gasoline to make 1 kg of glass. 

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

recycling rates:

However, if a glass manufacturing facility used 50 percent recycled content to make new glass, then there would be a 10 percent decrease in GWP.

In other words, the 50 percent recycle rate would remove 2.2 million metric tons of CO2 from the environment. That’s the equivalent of removing CO2 emissions of nearly 400,000 cars every year.

However, this would only happen assuming at least 50 percent of glass was recycled properly and used to make new glass. Currently, only 40 percent of glass thrown into single-stream recycling collections actually gets recycled. 

While glass is completely recyclable, unfortunately there are certain facilities that choose to crush the glass and use it as a landfill cover instead. This is cheaper than actually recycling the glass, or finding another cover material for landfills. 

Cover material for landfills are a mix of organic, inorganic and inert components (such as glass). Landfill covers are used to control the offensive smells landfills give off, deter pests, prevent waste fires, discourage scavenging, and limit rainwater runoff. 

Unfortunately, using glass to cover landfills doesn’t help the environment or reduce emissions because it’s essentially downcycling glass and preventing it from being reused.

Make sure you look into your local recycling laws before you recycle glass, just to double check it’ll actually be recycled. Glass recycling is a closed-loop system, so it doesn’t create any additional waste or by-products.

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

end of life:

You’re probably better off holding onto glass and repurposing it before you toss it into the recycling bin.

Glass takes a very, very long time to break down. In fact, it can take a glass bottle one million years to decompose in the environment, possibly even more if it’s in a landfill. 

Because its life cycle is so long, and because glass doesn’t leach any chemicals, it’s better to repurpose and reuse it over and over again before recycling it.

Because glass is nonporous and impermeable, there are no interactions between glass packaging and the products inside, resulting in no nasty after taste – ever. Plus, glass has an almost zero rate of chemical interactions, which ensures that the products inside a glass bottle keep their flavor, strength and aroma.

I guess that’s why lots of zero wasters encourage people to save all their empty jars for reuse. It’s great for storing food you get from the bulk food store, leftovers, and homemade cleaning products!

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

plastic:

The zero waste community has a habit of criminalizing plastic. But is it really as bad as they say? 

Let’s take a look, shall we?

problems with plastic:

First, most plastic (not counting the bio-plastics) are petroleum-based, thus making the materials non-renewable and unsustainable to harvest. Drilling for oil has caused many problems, including disturbing land and marine ecosystems.

Also, dealing with oil tends to result in oil spills, which contaminate soil and water and may cause horrendous fires and explosions. 

Secondly, the carbon footprint of plastic is pretty hard to ignore. From the moment raw materials are made into plastic to their disposal, plastic emits carbon dioxide. In fact, the emissions from plastic in 2015 were equivalent to nearly 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2. 

It doesn’t help the factories used to create plastic also run on fossil fuels and produce emissions as well. To be fair though, factories that produce glass also create emissions and run on fossil fuels for the most part.

Another problem? Only 9 percent of plastic is actually recycled. Considering we’ve made 8.5 billion metric tons of it since large scale production began, that’s a very small recycle rate. 

The glass recycling rate is 33 percent, which isn’t fantastic compared to other countries (there’s a 90 percent glass recycling rate in Switzerland, Germany and other European countries), but still higher than plastic.

When it is recycled, plastic can only be downcycled, meaning it becomes an item of lesser quality. It will never be the same item again. 

Eventually, this leads it to become a waste item that is no longer recyclable and destined to end up in a landfill, or the environment.

Not to mention, plastic takes 450+ years to decompose in the environment, 1000 years in a landfill.  Compared to glass, which takes 1 million years to break down, these numbers may seem kind of low. 

However, it’s important to remember unlike glass, plastic leech toxic chemicals into the environment as time passes. Plastic doesn’t truly break down either, but instead becomes microplastics which pollute our waterways and even contaminate our very soil and the air we breathe.

Altogether, that’s about six major problems with plastic that impact the environment. Lets look at plastic’s life cycle a little bit closer.

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

raw materials:

First, oil and natural gas are the major raw materials used to manufacture plastics. 

Plastic production often begins by treating components of crude oil or natural gas in a “cracking process” where these components are converted into hydrocarbon monomers, such as ethylene and propylene. 

Even more processing leads to various other monomers, such as styrene, ethylene glycol, terephthalic acid, vinyl chloride and several others. These monomers are then chemically bonded into chains called polymers. 

The different combinations of monomers yield various different kinds of plastics, all with a wide range of characteristics and properties. There are seven major plastics that are used widely such as Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE), High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS) and other plastics (ex: nylon).

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

emissions + energy:

All these different plastics serve different functions, though some are easier to recycle than others. As you can imagine, creating all those plastics takes a lot of energy and resources.

In fact, in 2007, researchers Peter Gleick and Heather Cooley estimated that satisfying the existing bottle water demand alone required the energy equivalent of between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil. And that’s just bottled water! This means producing plastic bottles each year releases more greenhouse gas emissions than over a million cars on the road.

From production to end of life, plastics have a surprisingly carbon-intense life cycle. When they’re transformed into products and transported to market, they emit greenhouse gases either directly or via the energy required to accomplish them. 

Even after you dispose of plastic, be it through dumping, incinerating, recycling and composting (for certain bio-plastics), all release carbon dioxide. The emissions from plastics in 2015 were equivalent to nearly 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2

Researchers only expect this number to grow. They project the global demand for plastics will increase by some 22 percent over the next five years. Just to break even, we’ll have to reduce emissions by 18 percent. 

However, on the current course, emissions from plastics will reach 17 percent of the global carbon budget by 2050. This budget basically estimates the max amount of greenhouse gasses we can “safely” emit without making global temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

In other words, there’s really no room for increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

recycling rates:

It doesn’t help that only 9 percent of plastic is actually recycled, either. Humans have created 8.5 billion metric tons of plastics since large-scale production began in the 1950s, and most of it is in a landfill or our environment.

You can imagine how this impacts carbon emissions. While it certainly would be better to have a higher recycling rate for plastic, it’s definitely not the end all solution.

After all, plastic can only be recycled so many times. In fact, it’s technically downcycled into a lesser quality item, meaning it can never be the same thing more than once. Eventually, it becomes unrecyclable altogether and ends up as a waste product.

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

end of life:

It should also be noted that plastic takes a very long time to disintegrate and break down. A plastic bottle for example, takes 450+ years to disintegrate, and a thousand years if they’re in a landfill. 

If you compare that to how long glass takes to disintegrate, you might think it’s a better outcome. However, it’s important to note plastic releases toxic chemicals into their surrounding environment as they break down, unlike glass.

We have plenty of room to improve on our recycling game, but recycling plastic certainly isn’t the end-all-answer to our plastic problem. 

Ultimately, replacing fossil-based energy with renewable sources would have the greatest impact on plastic’s greenhouse gas emissions overall. While it’s a bit idealistic, transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy would reduce emissions from plastic by a whopping 51 percent.

Which is better for the environment? Glass or Plastic? from www.goingzerowaste.com #ecofriendly #sustainable #glass #plastic #recycle #zerowaste

tl;dr:

Glass and plastic both have their pros and cons.

The best thing we can do is reduce our reliance on anything single-use! If you use it once and then place it in the recycling bin, try to find another solution.

Of course there are exceptions, and there’s no way we’re going to completely eradicate single-use, but we can definitely make a HUGE dent in it by being a little more conscious with our purchases.

Generally speaking try to avoid buying new plastic and still prefer to buy glass. I try to opt for packaging that contains mostly recycled content, because are we really recycling if we don’t buy products made from recycled content?

And, you should definitely reuse your glass bottles and jars!

sources and further reading:

http://www.gpi.org/sites/default/files/N-American_Glass_Container_LCA.pdf

https://www.businessinsider.com/world-running-out-sand-resources-concrete-2018-6

https://livegreen.recyclebank.com/column/because-you-asked/what-kinds-of-glass-can-i-recycle

https://www.wm.com/thinkgreen/what-can-i-recycle.jsp

https://cen.acs.org/materials/inorganic-chemistry/glass-recycling-US-broken/97/i6

https://trashcansunlimited.com/blog/understanding-landfill-cover-materials/

https://www.ecori.org/composting/2010/2/1/broken-glass-provides-cheap-cover-at-state-landfill.html

https://education.seattlepi.com/long-glass-bottle-degrade-landfill-5235.html

https://livegreen.recyclebank.com/column/the-list/7-truths-about-glass-recycling

https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Lifecycle-of-a-Plastic-Product/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170719140939.htm

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/4/1/014009/fulltext/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190415144004.htm

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=oil_environment

http://www.getwaste.info/garbage-decomposition-time/

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Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me.com, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.

Ethical and Sustainable Jewelry Brands

Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but I’m not sure they’re the Earth’s. To extract diamonds, gemstones, and metals, there’s a lot of strip mining and politics involved. 

Metal mining, gold mining in particular, is one of the most environmentally destructive kinds of mining around. Not to mention millions of gold miners earn low wages in hazardous working conditions.

The good news? You don’t have to give up wearing jewelry to be eco-friendly! There are plenty of amazing, ethical and sustainable jewelry brands out there. 

5 ethical and sustainable jewelry brands from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethical #sustainable #jewelry #ecofriendly #labgrowndiamonds

the problem with metals:

Metal mining destroys landscapes and produces a huge amount of toxic waste. In fact, gold mining companies generate about 20 tons of toxic waste for every 0.333-ounce gold ring.  YIKES.

The waste produced, usually a gray liquid sludge, is laden with cyanide and toxic heavy metals. Many gold mines dump this waste directly into natural bodies of water. It’s estimated that 180 million tons of toxic waste from mines is dumped each year - isn't that insane?

You can imagine the kind of havoc this causes for coral reefs and other ocean life. 

One top of the that, the Amazon rainforest is being slashed and burned to make way for unsustainable metal mines. When mining for precious metals mercury is often used to extract gold from rock and sediment.

Mercury is toxic it pollutes the environment, and can wreak havoc on miner’s health. As you can imagine, many miners face a number of health concerns, and are often subject to poor safety standards and inhumane labor practices. 

I think it’s clear that we need to stop supporting unethical and unsustainable mining practices.

The good news, metals can be recycled repeatedly without losing quality, and a lot of jewelry companies are now using recycled metals. This, of course, decreases the demand for new metals to be mined, and encourages recycling

And, as I’m sure you’ve heard it 1000x - are you really recycling if you don’t buy goods made from recycled materials?

the problem with diamonds:

As I’m sure many of you know, diamonds and gem stones aren’t without their flaws either. Diamond mines can be full of exploitation and violence stained by forced labor, torture, beatings, even murder. 

As far as environmental impact goes, irresponsible diamond mining can cause soil erosion, deforestation and in extreme cases can cause entire ecosystems to collapse.

There are several abandoned mining pits where wildlife has vanished, the topsoil has eroded, and land once suitable for farming has become desolate. 

The one good thing about diamond mining is that it doesn’t make use of toxic chemicals, like gold mining does, bu it’s still important we advocate for more responsible mining practices.

Lab grown diamonds and gems are a great sustainable alternative since they’re free of mining and exhibit the exact same optical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. 

Lab grown diamonds are beautiful, sparkly, and grown in highly controlled laboratory using advanced technology that duplicates the exact conditions a diamond needs to develop as they would in the wild.

One of the main problems with the jewelry industry is the lack of transparency. It can be a bit difficult to trace sourcing on both metals and gemstones. Even companies using The Kimberly Process (diamonds that have been certified to be "conflict-free") have run into issues due to lack of transparency and loopholes. ⁠

making better choices:

I know that it can feel hopeless, but here’s a few ways for you to find out a bit more info:

  • find a local jewelry maker where you can ask them about sourcing

  • opt for antique, vintage, and secondhand pieces

  • look for recycled and upcycled aspects

  • use local gemstone mines with sustainable practices. Did you know you can go digging for diamonds in Arkansas? It’s a huge field and you’re given a shovel. The Uncle Sam diamond was found there - the largest diamond, over 40 carats, ever found in the US.

And, of course, I’ve rounded up a few eco-friendly jewelry brands!

smiling rocks:

Smiling Rocks creates some beautiful pieces with lab grown diamonds.

You’ll find rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets in their shop. I love how you can customize your search too, based off of carat, metal, metal color, price and style.

Still, perhaps one of the best things about this company is their commitment to giving back. 

For every purchase made, Smiling Rocks will donate 10 percent to the charity of your choice. You can choose to help fund educational support, environmental protection, medical support or animal protection. Either way, your money will be going to a good cause.

Another cool fact about Smiling Rocks? This company will be launching a Carbon For Carbon initiative. 

Carbon For Carbon will research the amount of CO2 produced by one human cycle and then seek to  offset this by planting trees to improve the environmental impact of unnecessary carbon usage. Pretty innovative huh?

Check out their out their new arrivals, but My personal favorite is the Essentials Geometric Necklace and the Essentials Petite Earrings.

5 ethical and sustainable jewelry brands from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethical #sustainable #jewelry #ecofriendly #labgrowndiamonds

luna & rose:

Looking for some unique pieces without any flashy gems? Luna & Rose is your new go-to shop. 

They make truly beautiful jewelry using an entirely closed loop production system. That means they have zero waste from any of their collections, which is very impressive. 

Their pieces are made from recycled sterling silver (so hard to find!) and gold. Their silver product is recovered from the residues of copper, nickel and lead refining processes, seeing as silver is mainly found in ore bodies together with these metals.

The silver is recovered from a bunch of miscellaneous sources such as industrial scraps and end-of-life applications (like electronics and electrical scraps). Isn’t that awesome? 

If they happen to have left over stock of a particular piece or style, they can just melt the silver down and re-use it for their next collection. This creates a super innovative closed loop where nothing is wasted.

Another thing to love about this company? They participate in 1% For the Planet, which is a global movement that connects businesses, consumers & non-profits committed to addressing the pressing issues facing the planet. 

As a partner to 1% For the Planet, Luna & Rose are taking responsibility and pledged to donate 1% of their annual sales to two charities that will give back to the environment.

Luna & Rose also supports Take 3 For The Sea, a non-profit that encourages people to take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach or any waterway. If you purchase one of their charity t-shirts, $25 from the sale of each tee goes directly to Take 3 For The Sea. 

And yes, they do sell other items besides jewelry at Luna & Rose too. They’ve got shirts, scarves, sandals, towels, tote bags and even wallets available for sale.

As far as their actual jewelry goes, there’s lots to choose from: Necklaces, saint pendants, motherhood pendants, earrings, rings, bracelets, charms and chains all make the cut. 

If you know someone who just had a Communion or a Confirmation, one of their saint pendants would be a lovely present to give. Know someone who just had a baby? Consider gifting one of their thoughtful motherhood pendants.

I personally really love their To The Moon And Back necklace - so cute.

5 ethical and sustainable jewelry brands from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethical #sustainable #jewelry #ecofriendly #labgrowndiamonds

gjenmi:

Looking for fine jewelry that celebrates women, uses quality materials and is conflict-free? Look no further than Gjenmi. 

Gjenmi creates handcrafted pieces that have a timeless, feminine air to them that are inspired by antique and vintage jewelry. The jewelry is also made right in Los Angeles, CA. 

I love how dainty and sweet their pieces are. They’re super pretty and so eye catching in a very classy manner.

Most importantly, all their collections are made with recycled gold and conflict-free stones. 

Gjenmi creates jewelry that’s meant to last and become instant family heirlooms. It's such a nice thought to be able to pass along such beautiful jewelry to your future daughter, granddaughter or niece after you’ve enjoyed it.

Gjenmi offers a stunning range of rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings to choose from. 

Something extra unique about Gjenmi is that they let you customize your own ring stack. They have signature pairings they offer as a single purchase that look so pretty together it’s almost criminal.

They also have some very beautiful collections to choose from. I especially love the Mother Earth collection because it’s inspired by California’s rain and super bloom.

Top picks: Shelly Baby Necklace, Staple Lariat, and Sibling Ring

5 ethical and sustainable jewelry brands from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethical #sustainable #jewelry #ecofriendly #labgrowndiamonds

au-rate:

If you’re looking for super unique, ethically made jewelry, AU-Rate is for you.

They have some of the most interesting designs available, presenting a modern, sleek look that’s not too showy or in-your-face. It’s the perfect balance between unique and subtle, done right.

Everything is handcrafted in NYC using only the finest, ethically sourced materials that are designed to last forever.

AU-Rate always uses conflict-free gold and conflict-free diamonds in their stunning pieces. Their gold is 100 percent recycled, which is great because gold can be repeatedly recycled without diminishing in quality. 

They strictly adhere to the Kimberly Process for their diamonds, but they don’t think that’s enough. They make sure the mines they deal with offer fair pay, safe working conditions, respect local indigenous people and protect the environment.

Their pearls are also sustainably farmed and sensitively harvested to ensure the wellbeing and biodiversity of the marine environment. On top of that, the pearl farms AU-Rate works with are family-run and create job opportunities for local communities.

Yet another thing to love about this company? They’re super passionate about giving back to the local community.

AU-Rate supports the developing literacy of students in New York. In partnership with Mastery Charter, they’ve given thousands of books to schools and students across the city.

For every purchase made, AU-Rate puts a book directly in the hands of a child that needs it. That’s amazing to me.

As far as their actual jewelry goes, you can’t go wrong with any of their beautiful pieces. 

I especially love how they’ll let you try on up to 5 pieces of jewelry at home for free. You get to keep it for 7 days and if you’re not in love, you just send them back. You only pay for what you decide to keep.

Be sure to check out their new in jewelry – I'm especially in love with their Simple Pearl Bracelet.

5 ethical and sustainable jewelry brands from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethical #sustainable #jewelry #ecofriendly #labgrowndiamonds

secondhand:

Prefer a cheaper, simpler solution? Purchase your jewelry secondhand. 

Vintage pieces have so much character, plus the resources needed to make them have already been used up. This creates no additional waste. 

Purchasing secondhand also keeps a perfectly good piece of jewelry out of the landfill. Not to mention you can come across a lot of good bargains. 

Try going to your local thrift store and seeing if they have any vintage jewelry for sale. 

Also, sometimes you don’t even need to buy secondhand. You can get secondhand jewelry from a loved one!

Has your grandmother or mother ever given you a family heirloom? Cherish it always and keep close tabs on it, because that’s certainly way more sustainable than buying new. And it has so much more value because it comes from your family line!

You can also ask any of your female relatives if they have any jewelry they don’t wear anymore that you’d be happy to take off their hands. 

Does your sister have a jewelry box she rarely touches? Ask her if you can go through it! The worst you’ll hear is ‘no’, after all. 

5 ethical and sustainable jewelry brands from www.goingzerowaste.com #ethical #sustainable #jewelry #ecofriendly #labgrowndiamonds
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Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me.com, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.