Sustainable Business Review: Made Line Jewelry – Fair Mined Jewelry

 

https://www.madelinejewelry.com/about/

Hello All and Happy Sunday,

On the subject of sustainable businesses which I’ve touched on in a few previous posts (Hand-made shoes and Fair Trade Electronics), I’d like to address a line of ethical/sustainable products we don’t hear about all too often–jewels! Specifically fair-mined metals and gemstones.

I learned about this subject from my dear friend Maddy who I met back in Catholic School, where our uniforms were burgundy and grey (Eew), but we still managed to look cute:

Saint Francis Uniforms
My only remaining evidence of the Saint Francis uniforms, honorably showcased by Amy even though it was Halloween and the rest of us gladly opted to swap for Halloween costumes, circa 2007

Always a crafty one, Maddy became a jeweler after studying design and metallurgy at SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design.

After graduating, she moved to New York to pursue the jewelry scene and has worked for several companies over the years while developing her own line of hand-made products which can be viewed on her website: Made Line Jewelry.

I love Maddy’s work and feel so lucky to have a friend with the ultimate set of tools and skills to fix broken rings, earrings, and occasionally customize things like my late and ever mourned dog, Sparky’s collar, which she transformed into a pretty cool looking necklace that I now wear for obvious sentimental reasons. (Grammar/punctuation help, Grandma?)

The necklace, post Maddy’s handiwork; a simple transformation, thoughtfully crafted and well done:

Made Line Customized piece – Commemorative Dog Collar necklace

The original piece on my original main man:

Festive
Festive Sparky Wearing his G-chain collar

Needless to say, Maddy is awesome, especially because she is also promoting sustainability within her industry. Recall the Triple Bottom Line dicussed in a previous post, an emerging metric for evaluating business economics based on social, economic, and environmental impacts.

Using recycled metal in her jewelry, that is, metals repurposed from a range of products including old jewelry, electronics, and dental work rather than newly mined metal (all thoroughly cleaned and refined, mind you), Maddy is among a growing collective of ethical jewelers who are paving the way for a market of jewelry that is good for the planet as well as the people working to supply us with the raw materials. Its much like the Fair-trade electronics topic I wrote about here.

According to Maddy and others who use recycled metals, “the quality and value of recycled metal is exactly the same as newly mined metal, but using recycled metal is a great way to ensure that you aren’t supporting any mining practices that could have [detrimental] social and environmental [impacts]” (MadeLine Materials).

To give you an example, one side effect of gold-mining is Mercury contamination. Unfortunately, Mercury is often used during the refining process to separate gold from other elements. Because it is hard to filter out, local waterways often become contaminated by runoff, posing serious health problems for humans and the ecosystem at large.

According to Maddy, “Although there are a few alternatives to using mercury in mining, they are not widely known and the processes take much longer.” As a result, some small scale miners still opt to use mercury because it increases their speed and processing capacity. Gravity shaking tables and/or cyanide, are other options which also have toxic elements but can be neutralized and contained properly to prevent environmental damage. As explained above, mercury seems to be the simplest method and is not regulated despite the environmental and health impacts.

That is why it is important for us as consumers to support companies that follow ethical and environmentally sustainable practices, like Maddy’s company and other Farimined certified jewelers who buy recycled metals or metals from mining operations with mercury free processing. Through our purchasing (i.e. by altering demand), we send a message to the market about what products we want, and in this way we do our part to move industry standards in a sustainable direction.

Maddy also exclusively uses gemstones that come from reliable sources and discusses her “traceability ethic” here. Apparently there is a lot more to buying jewelry than I ever considered, and Maddy is working to make this information more widely understood. Hey, thanks lady!

Earlier this year, Maddy went with a group of jewelers to Colombia to explore the fair mined movement in action and to meet the communities supporting and supported by her jewelry work. The expedition was led by Fairmined, a certification label much like the “organic” label, which certifies gold sourced from “empowered, responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations” (Fairmined)

By opting for certified Fairmined jewels, ethical jewelers like Maddy can be certain their products are promoting well-run mining operations that promote the well-being of their miners, their communities, and the environment.

So, check out Maddy’s jewely! I think there’s some holiday sales afoot….. 😉

Made Line Jewelry

maddy mined
Maddy and her Columbian boyfriend on the Fairmined trip

 

Advertisements

Palestine’s Fine: Chapter 2

The Waiting

As soon as we all unloaded from the bus from Jordan and waited in another line to cross the boarder into The West Bank, I could tell something was up. There was tension in the air as we queued up to have our documents reviewed and to proceed across the boarder. It was taking forever.

A Palestinian man waiting behind me made disgruntled comments about how long it was taking for the officials to review another person’s documents ahead of us. I nodded as if I understood his sentiment, even though at that point I hadn’t witnessed any injustice. Beurocratic processes are notorious for being painfully slow everywhere, I thought, so I wasn’t that disturbed by the hold up. I did notice it was a Palestinian person the man was referring to, but again wasn’t sure if it was a coincidence or discrimination and didn’t have enough experience in the land to pass judgement.

Inching along, I finally made it to the counter to present my documents. The officials were Israeli, I came to find, which is strange since we were entering the West Bank, a Palestinian territory.

Technically the West Bank is part of Israel, so I suppose it makes sense to have Israeli government controlling the boarder, but its still a strange situation if you think about it. Usually when you cross into a country, the officials are of that country. Like I said, the land is technically Israel, but we were passing into Palestinian territory so it would have made sense to have Palestinian officials at the boarder. Just sayin’. Especially since the Allenby Bridge is the only border crossing point Palestinians can use to enter the West Bank.

If a Palestinian travels abroad, they are not permitted to fly to Tel Aviv and enter the West Bank from the Mediterranean Sea side like Israelis and other human beings. They do not have the same privileges. Palestinians are only permitted to pass through the Alleby Bridge, which is only accessible by way of Jordan, so Palestinians are restricted in how they can travel abroad. Its a pain. They cannot go through any other border crossing point from the Jordan side either, which there are two of, one in the South via Eilat, and another in the North near the Sea of Galilee. No, all Palestinians have to come through the Allenby Bridge, where I was at the moment being described.

Its a bit confusing but I digress, when it was my turn to step up to the window and present my documents in order to pass through, I was surprised at the way the officials conducted themselves. There were two officials, young military women. The official took a long time to review my passport, passing it to her colleague and the two of them talking between themselves without cluing me in as I stood there, wondering what the issue was, waiting for further instructions. It wasn’t very human, but I suppose any country could have grumpy, jaded border patrol employees. I wont count that as a strike against Israelis, but its worth noting. They were not friendly.

After deliberating and having another soldier come look over my passport, the officials directed me to a waiting area.  I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait or why. Apparently, I was not in the clear to pass through and I had no idea what made me suspicious. As I sat there waiting for the next step, the seats around me filled with Palestinian families. Eventually, Hanan came to meet me, as she was also sent to the waiting area for further review. I was glad to have met her, otherwise I would have been much more anxious and confused waiting there alone.

It was a half hour before my name was called. I went into an office with an Israeli man who questioned me about what I had been doing in Israel and what I would be doing next. In the end I think the questioning was related to my visa, as my re-entry into the the country from Jordan would result in my visa being extended another 3 months.

Since I already had a plane ticket out of Tel Aviv a few weeks later, it was a non-issue and I was allowed to continue through the boarder. Simple fix.

So I went through, first stopping to confer with Hanan. I told her I’d wait for her on the other side, not knowing how long that would be. And guess how long it ended up being, by the way….

7 HOURS.

Seven.

With no clue where I was, no idea where to go, and no gumption to set off on my own, I waited the entire time for Hanan to pass through, even though I barely knew her.

While I waited, I observed the people passing through. I had never been in a Muslim country before, save for Jordan, and was mesmerized by the clothing people wore, especially the women covered head to foot in black, with only slits for their eyes to see. I found it strange, but that’s just the way things are there.

Allenby Bridge Boarder Terminal

During my hours of waiting, two noteworthy things happened. First, I met a man from South Africa on his way to Mecca with a group of 13 others. I had never met anyone from South Africa before, and never met anyone going to Mecca, a pilgrimage I had learned about in religion class back in my Catholic School days. The concept had seemed quite mythical, but turns out lots of people really do that, including my new friend, the South African.

The man was wearing a funny little pillbox hat and a white linen tunic and was very nice to talk to. I sat with him for about two hours as he waited for his party to pass through security and collect their bags, one by one. I asked him about South Africa, the wild animals there (chimpanzees and monkeys, of course). He entertained my chimpanzee fantasies and gave me pointers about good beaches to visit, but I forgot all that information because I didn’t write any of it down. Eventually everyone in his party made it through security and they moseyed along, leaving me with my bags to wait in the figurative dark for Hanan to come through.

It had been several hours already and I was beginning to doubt if she’d make it through. Of course she would, but it was taking so damn long the worries began to creep in. I staved them off as I continued to observe the flow of people coming through.

The second noteworthy thing to happen was among the funniest scenes I’ve witnessed in this life. Funny in a peculiar and irreverent sort of way.

It went like this: I had my big backpacking backpack propped up in a corner and was sitting a bit away from it in observer mode. Then all the sudden a pair of devout looking Muslim folks laid down mats in front of my pack and started bowing to my backpack. Well, actually they were doing their prayer ritual in the direction of Mecca, but it looked like they were bowing to my backpack. I found it very funny and wanted to take a photo, but didn’t because #1 my camera was in my backpack and #2 that would have been oh so rude.

I’ll draw a picture and include it here someday.

Finally, after 7 hours of waiting, Hanan came through. She was surprised and glad that I was still there. It was dark out by that time and we took some sort of bus van out of the terminal to where Hanan’s parents were waiting for us. They had arrived hours before, not expecting to have to wait until 9 pm to pick us up. No one expected it to take that long.

In the drive to Hana’s parents house I gazed out the window into the night as Hanan’s father talked about life in Palestine. I got my first glimpse of the wall and learned that inconvenience and waiting are not at all unfamiliar to Palestinians living in the West Bank under the Israeli occupation, which is what the situation is, I was learning for the first time.

Urban Mining Workshop and The Craigslist Catwalk Adventure

Girl Tech
IFixit Fairphone Urban Mining Workshop – Girl Power

Greetings participating eyeballs n’ souls, friends & family:

I am writing you in the pleasant afterglow of a fruitful craigslist adventure which ultimately landed me walking as gracefully as Bigfoot down a hair-show runway with bubblegum pink bangs and has left me today with an envelope full of chopped locks to donate and November rent.

Bing!

Bubblegum Bangs
New doo, unwilling to make a normal face, and nephew Charlie’s painting

After growing my hair for the past 5ish years without dying it, and having the intention to someday donate it, this odd job, made possible by good ol’ Craigslist, allowed all my hair donation dreams to come true. See once long hair in photo below, apologies for the selfie.

Old hair and Made Line Jewelry

Hair Donation

Hearing some questionable feedback about Locks of Love, a prominent hair donation organization, I decided to go with Wigs 4 Kids per the suggestion of the ALOXXI hair team, the one’s responsible for my new doo and this poor model’s sore cranium.

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Apparently, Locks of Love, though a “non-profit,” charges some kids for their wigs, whereas Wigs 4 Kids provides all wigs at no cost, also offering services like counselling and enrichment activities to kids and their families.

Also good to know, Wigs 4 Kids asks for 10” instead of 12” (what I thought I’d have to cut) and will accept hair as short as 7-9” for short hairstyled wigs. I haven’t done a ton of fact checking about the Locks of Love controversy, but since I have’t heard anything bad about Wigs 4 Kids and they had a lenient hair length, I’m gonna err on the side of caution on this one and send my tresses to this Michigan based non-profit instead of Locks of Love. In case you or anyone you know is thinking of donating hair, I thought I’d mention this subject.

Which leads me to my other subject:

Roots and Shoots Urban Mining Workshop

As mentioned at the start of this blog, I’m working towards somehow combining the topics of tap dance, electronic waste recycling, and ape conservation.

Photo source: Ecosia
Photo Source here

A few months ago, a little progress was made when I teamed up with a lovely lass named Emily Duda to host an Urban Mining workshop at Barnes & Noble to raise awareness of the impacts of electronics on ape habitats.

Urban Mining Workshop
Photo cred: one of Emily’s students, future journalistic photographer

This topic was introduced in a previous post: Going Ape for Fair Trade Electronics, but for your convenience I’ll summarize here:

Electronics are produced the expense of Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and humans living in Africa, which is not fair.

To elaborate a bit:

Metals inside our phones, computers, and tablets come from the parts of Africa where Chimps and Gorillas live. These habitats are being damaged through the mining process, endangering the survival of these 2 great species.

Whats more?

People who mine these materials often work in sub-safe conditions, receiving ridiculously low wages for the work put in. Furthermore, the influx of people moving into these previosly untouched areas for work as the electronics industry grows has also paved the way for poachers to come in and snag Chimps and Gorillas for the Illegal Pet and Bushmeat trade.

Its not good.

But the situation can improve…

What can we do, those of us living far away from the conflict?

Recycle electronics.

Its a bit of a hassle to properly dispose of electronics these days, but its important to do so. We must work to bring balance to the force, young padawans.

Though I’m not sure if electronics manufacturers are actually USING recycled materials in new products, a point brought up by a much appreciated skeptic at the workshop, the act of recycling will inevitably make the supply of recycled materials more available for manufacturers to use. It will at least give manufacturers the option to incorporate recycled materials into new products instead of continuously importing raw materials.

Hopefully as time goes on it will become easier for the consumer, me and you, to properly dispose of electronic waste. It’s a dream of mine, to live in a world like that.

For now, you may need to do a little research to find out where to recycle used electronics locally, and you will likely have to take a trip to a store or recycling center to do so. If you need help figuring it out, reach out either through a comment or message on the contact page of this site and I’d be happy to help you navigate.

Happy Note:

In New York City, a pilot program has been launched to provide curbside pick-up of electronic waste upon request. I think this is very cool and hope more cities are introducing or already have similar programs. If you know anything on the subject, please share the info, thank you!

Now, a little more about the Barnes and Noble workshop, my first foray into eco-prostelytism:

Our event was part of the Barnes & Noble Bookfair program which allowed us to fundraise in addition to reaching an audience. Our goal was to spread the good word about Electronic Waste Recycling and raise money for Emily’s project: Camp Friendship, an afterschool and summer program that connects city kids with nature.

With a generous donation of toolkits from IFixit, a company working to reduce electronic waste by developing repair manuals and tool-kits for the lay-man, and using a workshop guide provided by FairPhone (which I’ve written about before here), we set up shop in the kids book section of Barnes and Noble and tried to engage as many people as possible in the discussion of whats inside our phones.

Apesplaining
Chimpsplaining at Barnes N’ Noble.

In case you’re curious, Emily and I found each-other using a mapping tool available on the Roots and Shoots website which helps ape conservation nerds and Jane Gooddall enthusiasts connect on a local level. Roots and Shoots, by the way, is a program created by the Jane Gooddall Institute to engage kids in conservation, to “raise the next generation of conservation thinkers.”

All in all I don’t think we raised much money for either cause, but we certainly did talk to a handful of people about electronic waste recycling, whats inside phones, and where these materials come from. Hopefully the ideas will sink in to the folks we reached and from there momentum can grow.

Any anyway, the kids who trickled in had a great time taking apart old phones and exploring the insides with the tiny tools donated by IFixit.

ifixit
https://www.reviewgeek.com/p/uploads/2018/03/xe27388a4.jpg.pagespeed.gp+jp+jw+pj+ws+js+rj+rp+rw+ri+cp+md.ic.OtRdkr3qAm.jpg

 

 

The phones used in this workshop were a combination of broken smart phones I was able to collect from my apartment building neighbors and several old school flip phones donated by the Gowanus E-waste warehouse in Brooklyn.

Gowanus E-waste warehouse

Ultimately, I was hoping to get the kids to connect their phones with the idea that whats inside their phones comes from where Chimpanzees live. Using the FairPhone workshop manual, I used the following graphics to engage in this discussion. It went over way better with the parents…

page 7

pages 9,10

The whole manual can be found here. I was particularly entertained by one child who was stoked on the silicon number pads inside an old flip phone. I hadn’t thought of if before, but kids these days are missing out on the tactile element of phones because smart phones don’t have buttons, just screens.

Well, thats all I’ve got for now. I’ll leave you with a little something I made out of the workshop remnants.

Urban Mine
The Innards of our Phones, Old and New

 

Thanks for reading!

KB