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Choose jewelry made from recycled materials

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Choose jewelry made from recycled materials to sport sustainable, idiosyncratic fashions while preventing materials like plastic, glass, and aluminum from entering landfills or becoming litter.

Find it! Jewelry made from recycled materials

The green bling listed below is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to designers working with recycled and reclaimed materials. For even more finds, peruse sites like UncommonGoods, GreenLoop, Elsewares, and eco-artware.com, or search for "trashion" at Etsy.

Choosing jewelry made from recycled materials helps you go green because...

  • You are helping give second life to materials that would otherwise enter the waste stream.
  • You are not promoting the use of virgin resources which can be energy intensive and harmful to the environment.
  • Frequently, jewelry made from recycled materials is handcrafted by independent designers who follow green business practices; it is also sometimes made by artisans living in economically developing regions around the world.

No matter what material your recycled jewelry is crafted from, it's a piece of trash turned into treasure. And although purchasing a necklace made from a pop top won't significantly reduce the staggering amount of garbage that's generated and sent to landfills or recycling plants, incinerated, or composted each day, it does make a small difference.

In 2006, over 251 million tons of garbage were produced in the US.[1] Each American resident generates approximately 4.6 pounds of garbage every day;[2] more solid waste than the residents of any other country. Canadians generate the next largest amount of waste, about 3.75 pounds each per day, whereas Germany and Sweden produce less than 2 pounds per day per person, the least of all the industrialized nations.[3] In 2006, recycling, including composting, resulted in diverting 82 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators, up from 34 million tons in 1990.[4]

Mining

When most people think jewelry, they think of silver, gold, diamonds, and other precious gems. Although some jewelry made from recycled materials does incorporate these elements, it's often vintage and not the primary material. Gold mining is one the most polluting industries in the world,[5] and its biggest threats include acid mine drainage, cyanide spills, and heavy metal pollution. In the western US, mining has polluted the headwaters of more than 40 percent of watersheds.[6] The weight of the waste produced by mines in the US is almost nine times the weight of the garbage produced by all of America's cities and towns combined.[7] Metal mining eats up a disproportionate amount of energy. The industry employs less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the world's population, but it consumes 7 to 10 percent of the world's energy.[7]

Although the resulting environmental damage of diamond mining in the US is small given that there is only one active diamond mine in the country,[8] this industry has proven to be a dirty, dangerous one in other diamond mining regions, particularly in African countries like Sierra Leone. To access diamonds, large amounts of rock and other matter—called overburden—is removed from the earth, disturbing surrounding ecosystems. Acid mine drainage is also a threat. In areas where there are few or nonexistent environmental standards—such as filling in empty pits and redepositing topsoil on reclaimed land—threats to surrounding ecosystems are heightened.[9]

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