And now for the fun part. After dredging through the misery, social and ecological damage of conventional precious and semi-precious stones and metals in Jewelry: the Trouble with Baubles and then exploring the improvements of Green Sustainable Gold & Ethical Diamonds, we can now luxuriate in the huge universe of sustainable, eco-friendly, green jewelry is out there waiting to be discovered by you. Green, eco-jewelry has a vast array of faces to match the diverse green interests for recycling, environmental sustainability, organic clothing, Fair Trade and ethical manufacturing. Here are some of our favorites.
Reciclarte. Reciclarte is tagged as being a “socio environmental project” in the ecologically gorgeous land of Costa Rica. Reciclarte is attempting to transform attitudes towards common toss-out trash by transforming it into delightfully colorful works of jewelry. Local Costa Rican women artisans design and manufacture their recycled jewelry to support local environmental education and recycling projects. Their green eco-jewelry seems imbibed with a glow of the lush vibrancy that reflects the spirit and warmth of Costa Rica.
Finding their eco-jewelry outside of Costa Rica is tricky, though. You can contact Reciclarte directly through the Asociacion Terra Nosta web site or you can visit the gift shop at Finca Rosa Blanca Country Inn a wee bit north of San Jose in Costa Rica. Their gift shop is stuffed with eco-friendly jewelry and art by local eco-artists. As a side note, the Finca Rosa Blanca Country Inn in Costa Rica is one of the very best of the growing eco-hotels. Teresa and Glen Jampol have created a sincerely and wonderfully green home for the eco-tourist while visiting the unbelievable diversity of Costa Rica’s rainforests, volcanoes and rich coffee lands of the Central Valley. If you are in the neighborhood, it is definitely worth a visit. And the warmth of the people is like visiting a loving, functional family.
Zulugrass Jewelry. Following the theme of communities of women artisans improving the life of their communities through their green jewelry, let’s move from the lush rainforests of Costa Rica to the dusty grass plains of Kenya and Tanzania that are home to the Maasai tribes. The nomadic Maasai peoples have depended upon their cattle for generations but droughts in recent years have decimated their herds. To provide food and medical care, the women of the Maasai with the help of social sustainability foundations, such as the Leakey Collection, have been using their traditional skills in weaving and beading jewelry from Zulugrass to bring additional income.
The Zulugrass beaded and braided jewelry woven by the Maasai women seems imbibed with the vibrancy and life of the grass lands of Kenya and Tanzania. The online gift shop at the DailyOM and the ZuluGrass Leakey Collection are two sources that you can browse through. While the Zulugrass for their jewelry is sustainably hand-gathered, the primary emphasis is on the social sustainability of the Maasai communities with a secondary emphasis on environmental sustainability. Also, in the spirit of disclosure, we must mention that many families in the Maasai communities still cling to the brutal practice of female genital mutilation even though the practice is illegal in Tanzania and Kenya.
Carbon Offset Jewelry. For those whose passion is in promoting environmental sustainability, check out the Wind Turbine Jewelry Pin ($325) or the Be Carbon Neutral fine jewelry of reclaimed silver hand-designed by Anthony Aletto. Proceeds from this beautiful … but pricey … jewelry are used to purchase carbon offsets in the purchaser’s name. No less an eco-personage than The ECOnorable Al Gore has been pinned with the reclaimed silver Wind Turbine Jewelry Pin which is sourced, manufactured and shipped as being carbon neutral, probably using carbon offsets.
Natural Jewelry. And there are many more examples of green jewelry in the hotsey-totsey world of haute eco jewelry. The Palma Collection features “exotic, exciting, and original jewelry inspired by nature’s beauty” made from the tagua nut. Sustainably collected from a rare species of palm tree found only along the Pacific rainforest coast line of South America, the tagua nut has also been called “vegetable ivory” because its hardness, cellulose grain, and look and feel are very similar to ivory from elephant tusks. The Tagua nut has been a favorite of natural material jewelry artisans worldwide for many decades. Here is Summer Rayne Oakes in a Palma Collection tagua nut necklace.
Recycled Jewelry. Looking for something a little more fun? How about recycled jewelry made from the funny pages? Great Green Goods has a flippery necklace made from recycled paper mache Archie comics (and its only $21.00).
Or if you are really into the funky junky look, check out Debris where they have a totally playful collection of necklaces made from junk – old jam jar lids, rusty bottle caps, recycled fishing tackle, and whatever old recycled bits from the dustbins catch the artist’s fancy.
And then Etsy, an online artists community of the handmade, offers wrist cuffs and armlets made from recycled vinyl records complete with the groovey music grooves still in the vinyl ($24.00ish). Hmmm … anyone still remember vinyl records?
Fair Trade. Going from fun to fair – as in Fair Trade – many stores offer Fair Trade and ethically produced jewelry. Companies such as Rainforest Native work with indigenous peoples and native artisans and apply Fair Trade policies to help market their environmentally sensitive jewelry and art. Here is their multi-strand black waxed cord necklace with dangling black saboneteira seeds and pupunheira palm wood for a fair price of $85.00.
And finally, one of our favorites for Fair Trade ethically manufactured jewelry is the Ananya Studio / Ridhi combo. Ananya Studio is a web-based ethical jewelry marketing organization that has partnered with the ethical jewelry manufacturer Ridhi from gem-rich Sri Lanka. Ananya Studio was started by three remarkable women. Here's their story as they tell it:
“The founders of Ananya Studio, Faye, Teri, and Zainab, all have a history of giving back to the community. Faye has been involved in health care and global youth enablement programs for many years. Teri spent over a decade as a therapist for emotionally disturbed pre-schoolers and their families. Zainab has worked with refugees from the long running civil war in Sri Lanka, developmentally challenged children, and community/cottage industry projects in Sri Lanka. Our experiences in these endeavors sparked an interested in forming a company that brought responsibly produced, organic and/or fair trade products to the market. It is our hope that by giving artisans and craftspeople from around the world a market place for their goods, that we can help them make positive changes for themselves and their families.”
Ananya Studio co-founder Zainab and her mother started Ridhi in Sri Lanka to employ local jewelry artisans. A fair wage is only one component of their strategy of giving and caring for their employees and artisans. For their employees, they also provide loan assistance to improve their homes, books and educational assistance for employees’ children, lunch and travel allowances, substance abuse treatment, career development and training. Taking care of their employees is truly a passion for them.
The jewelry at Ananya Studios is gorgeous and reasonably priced with prices from below $25 to slightly above $100. Take a few minutes to visit Ananya Studio and do some good.
Green jewelry, earth friendly jewelry, recycled jewelry, reclaimed jewelry, sustainable jewelry, Fair Trade jewelry, ethical jewelry, whatever your green passion, there is a treasure house of truly beautiful pieces out there that will go great with whatever you are wearing from Linda Loudermilk natural fiber originals to thrift store recycled.