This is the first article in my series “Jewelry Green Guide”. I will talk about eco-packaging and give tips for those who make and buy jewelry.
As you probably know, I am concerned about the environment. No, I am not jumping in front of the Parliament, shouting and smeared in paint but I am very attentive to what and how I consume and what I do with the waste. Actually, when I started to separate the garbage I was surprised to realize that 80% of all the waste goes to recycling! In summer, 15% more goes to the compost, imagine the impact! The official statistics says that in Canada there is more than 777 kg of waste per 1 person annually!
Of course, when I entered the world of jewelry, I started to search, what are the sustainable ways there. I will talk about different jewelry environmental topics in the “Jewelry Green Guide”. You don’t need to go crazy about it, but if we all make a little step, one at a time, we will become a more ethical and resilient community, both of jewelers and buyers.
I want to start with packaging. First, why it is important. I did not find any fresh Canadian statistics, but I think that Europe lives a kind of similar to us in this way. A fresh report from December 2016 says that in 2014, 162.6 kg of packaging waste was generated per inhabitant in Europe. Paper and cardboard, glass, plastic, wood and metal are the most common types of packaging waste, other materials represent less than 0.3 % of the total volume. So, simply the packaging can make more than 20% of our annual waste.
Now, about jewelry. Imagine the ammount of jewelry boxes and other packaging needed for the Canadian jewelry market of US$6,6 bln (in 2013). I did not find any estimate of the packaging market, but let me again do a very rough calculation. If an average price per jewelry can be taken as $300, making a median of very popular pieces of $50 and less and more rare pieces pricing thousands, the amount of the pieces sold can be around 22 mln. Guys, it is very rough calculations, but it is, probably, even less than in reality! Which means 22 mln boxes, jewelry bags, etc. only in 2013.
When people are offered a choice to choose packaging which is sustainable and socially-responsible, they will.
I gave all this information just to show you the enormous dimensions of such a simple thing as packaging. Now let me tell you in what ways the environmental impact of the jewelry packaging can be decreased by both, jewelers and buyers.
- excess packaging (so many times I got a tiny jewelry package shipped in the A4 format box!)
- tissue paper
- paper towels
- wax and wrapping paper
- cardboard lined with plastic
- styrofoam packaging
- bubble wrap
- recycled and recyclable cardboard
- recycled paper, cotton and polypropylene bags
- molded fiber
- other eco materials – search and be creative!
BTW, you can make your own recycled and recyclable materials – shred paper and make a creative protection layer, for example.
Tell about it! Your clients will know that you are aware!
If you don’t want to have a headache about it you can simply turn to the companies who specialize on fully sustainable packaging. There are a lot at the moment! Some of them make it really visionary. Just as an example, Distant Village employs artisans and designers to work closely to explore completely new packaging concepts. Cacao paper, wild grass paper, flower seed paper, and innovative design solutions to intelligently reduce carbon footprints are some ways they innovate and lead.
- buy from sustainable designers
- recycle everything recyclable (cardboard, paper, cotton bags (at special places), metal, biodegradable plastic, etc.)
- reuse everything reusable.
On the photos:
- sustainable packaging for jewelers by PlumePak (Montreal). Check out their site – you can adjust and personalize it with various ideas.
- a cube necklace which I found in Tallinn (Estonia). Those guys make jewelry from the metal of the roofs to finance the project of renovation of the roofs of the Old Town of Tallinn. Awesome!