Hoping for Hope, A Sustainability Story

April 09, 2020

Sometimes keeping sane in a time of crisis is as simple as finding the silver linings. I’m not trivializing all the chaos, sadness and heartbreak on the news lately - feeling grief over the loss of normalcy is a very real thing. This epidemic is the perfect storm for loneliness and anxiety, and surviving may be more realistic than using this as an opportunity to pause and reflect. 

I was due with baby #3 early April, so self-quarantine nicely coincided with my maternity leave. A bunch of family members and friends were planning to visit in April, and my heart felt heavy over telling them I didn’t want visitors in the first two weeks after the birth. My priority was to offer my baby a quiet entry into this world, complete with lotus birth. The silver lining for me was that I got my quiet postpartum period without the guilt of having to turn people away.  

For Gardens of the Sun, I found that the best way for me to deal with the changes was to look inwards. To evaluate if we’ve been doing enough and if we can realistically do more. What’s our desired end state? How can we come rocketing out of this crisis? What do I want Gardens of the Sun to look like in the new world of social distancing, when the first waves of the epidemic have passed and we’ve adjusted to the new normal? Even if what the new normal looks like is still filled with uncertainty. 

So, whatis next? In short, my goals haven’t changed – but they’ve expanded. I want to keep fixing the jewelry industry, starting with my own little slice of it. I’ve gone back to the drawing board. When I started out I wanted to create feel-good jewelry that was guilt-free. Now I want to invite more people on the journey beyond jewelry. More designers, more creators, more suppliers. More people who care!

But before that, I need to look at our own processes. I know I’ve been talking about our gold process for a long time now. We keep getting comments and questions about our gold. It makes me happy to know others care too. So once more with feeling! I’m proud to say that Gardens of the Sun has been paying a premium on gold mined by indigenous women miners. We’re heading into year two, and I hope we can keep the momentum going, as this was one of my favorite ‘wins’ of 2019.

But it isn’t only about gold. There are so many other ‘ingredients’ needed to concoct a delicious piece of guilt-free jewelry.

Since Evi, our Sustainability Manager, joined Gardens of the Sun, she’s been tweaking and poking at our processes. Figuring out what can be fixed, what can be improved, and what else we can do. One of the biggest projects that I haven’t shared much about is the sourcing of our stones. Simply put, we’ve implemented a traffic light system for the origin for all our gemstones. And we constantly update the list.

Evi keeps track of the latest global political, social, and environmental developments, and she revisits and revises our list accordingly. The traffic light system makes it easy for me to check if a gemstone from a certain origin is a good idea to purchase or not. 

Red countries are our no-go areas. These are places that are heavy with environmental and/or social concerns. Problems that we definitely don’t want to contribute to. Yellow are places that we take on a case-by-case basis, or countries that have isolated issues. For example certain mining companies or provinces that are problematic. This means we evaluate each seller that approaches us, and we trace the original source of the stones as far as possible. Green of course is safe as can be. For example Australia has excellent regulations and implementation in place for opal mining. 

This system might sound like a very simple process, but it can get pretty complicated. Especially when we’re talking about the Yellows. Does it matter though? Well, it really does – for me, at least.

I started Gardens of the Sun because I love jewelry, because I love making them, and more importantly – I love to wear them. I want to feel good about what I wear. I want to feel good about the jewelry that I’ll pass on to my daughters. I want others to see that therearebetter options. I just want better.

There are tentative tendrils of hope growing amongst those who care about the environment. With the global pandemic gripping our world, people are re-evaluating their values, especially when it comes to fashion. Our fast-paced, wasteful, exploitive, hyper-consumer culture that fails the most vulnerable - women especially. There are important voices speaking up. Calling this a wake-up call. Saying we can choose how to recover and create a fairer world on the other side of this. 

Something we hoped for at the beginning of the year, and something I hope we can all do. I hope with all my heart that once this passes over, we won’t go back to business as usual. Or like my friend Sam McGlennon said, let’s never return to normal

It’s time for better business practices.

Wherever you are self-isolating, I’m sending you love and strength, and thinking of you. Let me know how you’re doing! 



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