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 jewellery-making, image creation, packaging & shipping, & general business 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!
Silversmithing / jewellery-making
– All of the sterling silver wire (which I use to make ear wires & posts, stacking rings & ring bands, bangles, etc), sheet, stamping blanks & jump rings I use are made from recycled silver, & the other sterling silver components I use are also made from recycled silver wherever possible. Not all of the bezel cups, charms, chains or clasps I use are made from recycled sterling silver yet, though, but my search continues. 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 soy wax to lubricate my saw blades, files, etc;
– 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. Update: I used to make beaded bracelets & necklaces using large numbers of crystal beads or pearls in each piece, however I became aware that the broader Swarovski Group also manufactures & markets sport hunting optics through Swarovski Optiks (Ethical Consumer optics report, Jan. 2018), so they’re enabling & profiting from trophy hunting, despite the fact that there’s evidence of negative impacts of selective hunting on a number of big game species. I know this is a complicated issue & that some conservationists argue that commercial hunting can be an important part of conservation efforts, particularly in Africa, & it may be that, for some species, in some countries, if set up properly & managed well, it can. But that ‘ideal’ isn’t what’s happening in most cases that I’m aware of, & it’s just not something I can support. So I’ve decided that I’ll use my stockpile of Swarovski crystals & pearls 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 ethical & eco-friendly alternatives!
Making images & prints
– I minimise my impact on natural habitats: 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 – Phytophthora dieback (a fungal disease that’s a big problem for many native plant species in south west WA) is spread by moving soil & mud, so vehicle tyres & footwear can spread it. I actively take measures to reduce the chances that I inadvertently spread it or any other disease.
– I offset the carbon footprint associated with the road trips I take to create my images (& any air travel I do) through the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund. They use 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.;
– I use Canon cameras, lenses & flash units because they’re rated as more ethical & environmentally friendly than Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic & Olympus by Ethical Consumer (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 for 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 for 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).
Packaging & shipping
– eco-friendly packaging (e.g. biodegradable cellulose bags, 100% recycled tissue paper, 100% recycled paper envelopes & boxes, hemp twine or linen ribbon; I don’t brand the envelopes / boxes so that you can reuse them in future if you want to);
– eco-friendly shipping materials (padded paper mailers & cardboard tubes, & 100% recycled paper packing material – if you’re like me & are really disappointed when you buy something that’s supposed to be eco-friendly & it arrives wrapped in bubble wrap & a plastic mailing satchel, you don’t have to worry!);
– the carbon footprints of all orders I ship out & all deliveries I receive are offset through the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund (there’s a brief summary of what they do in the 1st point under ‘Creation of images & prints’, if you didn’t read that bit);
General business practices
– solar-powered office / 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, digital cameras, 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);
– eco-friendly promotional materials (e.g. all business cards, brochures, etc are printed on 100% recycled paper using environmentally-friendly vegetable-based inks);
– carbon-reducing website through GreenGeeks Web Hosting (who put 3x the power they consume back into the grid in the form of renewable energy!) & CO2 Neutral Website (like GreenGeeks, they neutralise the emissions from my server, but they also neutralise the emissions generated by all the visitors to my website :));
– ethical business banking through Beyond Bank, a customer owned bank that doesn’t invest in the fossil fuel industry & ethical superannuation through Australian Ethical Super;
– reusing, recycling or composting everything possible (& minimising purchases of things I can’t);
– environmentally friendly, non-animal tested cleaning products.