Ethics & sustainability
If you’d like to know what I mean when I say my images & jewellery are as ethical & sustainable as possible, I’ve listed my practices below – I want to be as transparent as possible, so you know exactly what you’re supporting when you buy Beasts & Blossoms.
I try to source as much locally as possible, but when this isn’t possible (and unfortunately there often aren’t eco-friendly options that are made in WA or even in Australia), I look for alternatives that are both eco-friendly & ethically produced, & invest in carbon offsets to minimise the transport impact. I use resources like Shop Ethical, Ethical Consumer & Ethical Metalsmiths to identify companies that are doing the right thing both environmentally & socially. I also like to support fair trade initiatives & small businesses / other handcrafters, and to take actions or support initiatives that not only benefit the planet, but also improve the quality of life for people around the world. I’m always looking for ways to do more, and I’d love to hear any suggestions you have!
Environmentally & socially responsible general business practices:
– solar-powered office / art studio;
– sustainable office furniture (e.g. eco-friendly fabrics, renewable wood, second hand furniture, as little virgin plastic as possible, items that can be recycled at the end of their lifespan, etc);
– electronic equipment like computers, mobile phones, printers, etc are pretty notorious for being environmentally unfriendly, so repair is always the first option & I only replace them when absolutely necessary – when I do have to replace them, I buy the most ethical & sustainable brand I can find at the time using resources like Shop Ethical & Ethical Consumer;
– eco-friendly office supplies (e.g. recycled paper, notebooks, document wallets, files, binders, etc; bamboo or corn starch pens, cellulose tape);
– all promotional materials are eco-friendly (e.g. all business cards, brochures, etc are printed on 100% recycled paper using environmentally-friendly vegetable-based inks);
– eco-friendly packaging (e.g. biodegradable cellulose bags, 100% recycled tissue paper, 100% recycled paper envelopes & boxes, hemp twine or linen ribbon dyed with Procion fibre-reactive dyes; I don’t stamp or emboss the envelopes / boxes so that you can reuse them in future if you want to);
– eco-friendly shipping materials (recycled padded paper mailers and cardboard tubes rather than plastic; 100% recycled paper packing material, or re-purposed bubble wrap from orders I receive – I never buy bubble wrap or bubble-wrap lined mailing satchels);
– purchasing carbon-offsets for all deliveries I receive & for all orders I ship out, as well as for the road trips I take to create my images (I use the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund, which uses the funds raised through carbon offsets to plant native trees & shrubs at various sites in Australia, including a number here in Western Australia – WA projects include the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor in the wheatbelt & the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Reforestation Project);
– carbon-neutral website through CO2 Neutral Website;
– ethical business banking through Beyond Bank, a customer owned bank that doesn’t invest in the fossil fuel industry;
– reusing, recycling or composting everything possible (& minimising purchases of things I can’t);
– environmentally friendly, non-animal tested cleaning products.
Environmentally & socially responsible creation of art prints:
– I minimise my impact on natural habitats: Dieback (a fungal disease) is a big problem for many native plants in south west Western Australia, so I take precautions to minimise the chances of spreading it further. I’ve done a lot of biological survey work, ecological research & conservation-related work in the wild over the last 20+ years, so I’ve got a lot of experience locating species whilst minimising my impact on the habitat. Some habitats & species are particularly fragile, and I have a good understanding of what I need to do while I’m the field to make sure that the footprints I leave behind aren’t themselves a problem (even some of the vibrant flowers can be surprisingly easy to miss, let alone buds, non-flowering plants & immature plants – some species, like the Queen of Sheba orchids take at least 7 years to flower, so it’s really easy to trample the young plants). I’m also highly aware of the disease transmission risk associated with people moving around from one location to another – dieback is spread by moving soil & mud (so vehicle tyres & footwear can spread it!), and I actively take measures to minimise the chances that I inadvertently spread it further.;
– I use Canon cameras, lenses & flash units as they are rated as more ethical than Nikon, Fujifilm & Olympus (I’ve been using Canon for years – if I was buying camera gear now, I’d buy Sony as they rate better than Canon, at least at present);
– I use NuLabs / PicPress to make my professional photographic prints – they don’t use silver halide printing processes & are the only professional photo lab in Australia to achieve a Level 2 Sustainable Green Print certification;
– I use local company Custom Photo Imaging to make my canvas prints and stretched canvases – they use 100% cotton canvases that are free of optical brighteners / hazardous chemicals, a non-toxic water-based UV coating & locally-sourced sustainable plantation pine.
I don’t currently offer framed version of my images, although I am looking into a local manufacturer of recycled jarrah frames. In the meantime, if you’re on the east coast of Australia & you’re looking for an eco-friendly frame for your Beasts & Blossoms art print, check out the recycled timber frames by Mulbury (Melbourne) or Wombat Frames (Sydney).
Environmentally & socially responsible jewellery-making:
– I use recycled sterling silver wire & other components wherever possible. I use the recycled wire to make my bangle bracelets, ring shanks & ear-wires. Other recycled silver components that I use include stamping blanks & jump rings — I haven’t been able to source bezel cups, charms, chains or clasps made from recycled sterling silver yet, but my search continues & I’m investigating making bezel cups myself. In the interim, I buy these items from reputable suppliers in Australia & the US that are recommended by Ethical Metalsmiths. I do have a small stock of charms that I purchased several years ago through small-scale vendors that haven’t been able to verify that they are ethically & sustainably produced, but I won’t be ordering from these sources again.
– I use eco-friendly bio resin to seal my images (the only one I could find in Australia is actually used for making green surfboards, but it works really well for jewellery too!);
– I use Luxi polishes to finish my silver jewellery because they’re water-based, non-toxic & really effective (meaning that only small quantities are required);
– I use Swarovski lead-free crystal beads & pearls as they are both socially and environmentally responsible. Updated June 2016: I used to make beaded bracelets & necklaces using large numbers of crystal beads or pearls in each piece, however I recently became aware that the broader Swarovski Group also manufactures sport hunting optics through Swarovski Optiks, and, according to Ethical Consumer (Feb. 2016), they “glamorise trophy hunting particularly of animals such as lions and bears where the potential negative impacts of selective hunting have started to be evidenced”. I have a reasonably large stockpile of Swarovski crystals & pearls, and I’ve decided that I’ll use these more sparingly, as charms or occasional flashes of sparkle, rather than in large numbers in a single piece. While I’m working through my stockpile, I’ll research alternatives!