Ethics & sustainability

It seems like the buzz word of 2018 and 2019 has been sustainability and with good reason . Our Planet is under immense pressure and threat from our food industry, our fast fashion and general over consumption . It is complicated, to say the least . There is no quick fix here, and there is no one way to suit all . I've wanted to address this in an honest page on the website for quite some time but I didn't really know where to start - I want to be honest with each and every single one of you who purchases from my little shop . I don't want to ever be accused of green washing and I believe we as consumers deserve honest and transparent companies to buy from - At the end of the day one of the biggest ways you vote is with your money after all and so you deserve the right to all the facts and to make good informed choices when buying . 

Packaging

I think this is the easiest one to start with and something that is at the forefront of discussions this year regarding plastic and the destruction of our beautiful oceans and rain-forests. If you have purchased from me your packaging looks a bit like this ; Cardboard mailing box, plastic packaging tape, a white sticky label , hand written return address on reverse , upon opening a scrunch of green or black tissue paper, a black cardboard box with my logo in gold, and to finish it off a cardboard insert with my logo and a hand stamped message of what you have purchased . 

This is currently how I package my items, and until a few weeks ago something I considered to be eco friendly . This is still more eco friendly than most but there are some problems and its something I will have fixed by the end of the year ; 

-The plastic packing tape has to go . There are options now for paper tape which is completely biodegradable , I still have a few reels of the plastic tape left and I firmly believe in using up what you have so it isn't wasted . As soon as I run out of this I promise I will be switching to a sustainable paper parcel tape.



-The cardboard parcel boxes are ... tricky . You wouldn't believe the amount of parcels I receive and I am left with an obscene amount of padded envelopes . I had the idea briefly of using these to then package my items - but here is why this sadly wont work ; You can feel the jewellery boxes in the envelopes . My postie is so honest and lovely , I cant say the same for people working in postal services throughout the globe .

When an item goes missing it is incredibly hard on my end to prove this is the case, and the postal insurance sometimes wont cover the full amount . I want to minimize any temptation , this is why I have stopped using stickers that say 'charlies vintage charms' on my return section of the box . I dont want anybody to know what is in the parcels I am sending . It is paranoia and perhaps I am overthinking it but I would rather be safe than sorry 


The next reason is that I sometimes receive items in these padded envelopes that have come loose from the jewellery boxes, broken in transit etc. and for such precious items a firm sturdy cardboard box is the way to go . Here is my solution to this though , I am going to be looking for sustainable made postal boxes that are from trusted sources and do not contribute towards rain-forest destruction and clear cutting .

Im sort of hoping for an ethical company that uses recycled components / works with locals to manage and not destroy the land/ uses and pays local communities for their wood . Its a bit of steep order, its going to no doubt increase my costs and eat into profit but I dont care . I would rather earn less and have a clear conscience I cannot continue to be a part of any wildlife destruction if its avoidable - Oh and all those padded envelopes I save every single one and bundle them up into sets, and offer for free on Facebook to whoever needs them . Its not perfect but I want to be honest and show you I really am trying.



-I need to use recycled tissue paper from green sources. 
This isn't something that even occurred to me initially, but I am looking into where I can purchase tissue paper that is recycled and from sustainable sources without any toxic dyes or issues in the supply chain . I admittedly know very little in this area so I promise to research this and by 2020 have a sustainable option in place for my packaging that doesn't destroy our planet, .leach chemicals into the environment , or cause any problems .



-My branded jewellery boxes .  
Currently they are made from recycled cardboard so that is excellent , but I need to find out more and if they are 100% recycled or if part is recycled and part is not . I also need to double check they are completely biodegradable or can be recycled easily . If they cant , I still have quite a few left and it isn't feasible for me to reinvest in having them made with a different company because of the cost so instead what I will do is work with them to make it as Eco friendly as possible .

 I have been thinking about a box return scheme too. I would love to be able to offer you guys something along the lines of X% off one order if you return to me X amount of my branded jewellery boxes so I can reuse them and close the loop .

-My info card .
 This is great source of concern for me lately , it never occurred to me to check that these cards are made from recycled materials or sustainable sources . I am going to be looking into this before I make another order. I'm sad because I feel very irresponsible , this is why we need to question everything and not take anything at face value . On the surface I thought these are great, easy to recycle , perfect ! But what about the inks used to print them ? Where is the cardboard coming from ? And finally , are they really necessary ?

I am leaning towards no . I love them , they add a beautiful touch to your order- But is this worth it ? This is where the problems start when we overlook our environment for the sake of consumption and appearances . Please leave this with me , I have a fair few to work through but once they are used up I have a feeling I wont be ordering again . Its a shame I love the design , but I love our planet more .

Gold & silver

By purchasing secondhand items we are already working together to provide a very sustainable option . This is an excellent way to bring life back into old jewels and avoid losing them to scrap . There is also something immensely special about purchasing antique items , the history behind them and reuse is always better than buying new .

-New Items in the form of jump rings (occasionally added by me but often brand new from the dealers I am buying from ), new chains provided by me, and I have recently branched out into making my own items of jewellery . As far as my own items go I have complete control over what they are made from and I have had them all made in recycled eco fine 999. silver . It would have been cheaper to have them created in just fine 999 silver or even sterling silver , but I was determined to have them as eco friendly as possible . For the jewellery findings (chains & jump rings) I purchase from a trusted UK supplier that has their own factory .

I need to find out more about this though and its something I haven't looked to closely at before so I promise to look into this and make sure that all of the jewellery new and old is always sourced from responsible , ethical and sustainable sources.

 

Charities I support

I wish I could say the business makes a regular donation each month but sadly this hasn't happened yet . I am only just at a point with building this up where I now feel like I have an actual functioning business and its time to share the love . I have many issues close to my heart , I abhor environmental damage, I try to live as low waste as I can , I follow a mostly plant based diet and I love animals . I have deep sympathy for communities and indigenous people that are suffering because of our mindless ridiculous consumption in the west .

So where to start ? It would be easy to pick a charity and make myself look on the ball , but I need to research this carefully and consider where I want us to donate a chunk of our monthly profit to . I want you guys to be able to wear your jewels with pride and say that a percentage of the profit from each sale goes directly to this cause or that cause , so please bare with me . I promise by 2020 that I will have selected an organisation / charity that we can all support together when you buy jewels with me . Im hoping I will have this cracked by Christmas so that you can feel good about the gifts you are giving .

 

Financial Responsibility 

I bet you are thinking what has this got to do with ethics and sustainability ? This will fall neatly under both categories . I strongly believe we are in a climate crisis because we over consume . We are influenced every single day , you cannot escape it . You are influenced by your friends and family, by your Facebook news feed, your Instagram feed and even by me . Influence doesn't have to be negative, perhaps this is influencing you right now to take a closer look at where you shop and what you can do to be more sustainable ( If it is I really hope you start questioning everything too like I am , together we make such a difference ).

But the main thing I want to discuss is the financial responsibility with selling things to you through a social media platform that is designed to make you want what is on offer . I love Instagram , its perfect for my very visual business and I have made friends with some lovely customers and dealers . I feel part of a community and I hope you have always had a pleasant experience when dealing with me . I am by no means an 'Influencer' , but you do need to be aware that I am here to sell Jewellery to you . I worry quite often that people will buy from me regardless of if it is financially feasible right now for them . The idea that I would contribute towards anybody falling into debt sickens me .

Please never go into debt to purchase from me , its why I offer layaway ; there are no hidden charges, its not a loan or a payment plan , it doesn't affect your credit rating and I wont be sending bailiffs after you . Layaway is designed for when you really want something but can't afford it just now -In the world of antique jewellery you snooze you lose . But if you do want something , I recommend thinking about it . Sometimes this means you might miss out, but it is good to pause and think do I really need this item ? Its probably terrible business sense to say this sort of thing but I honestly dont care . I dont ever want to be somebody that places profit before people and planet. 

 

Questions

If you do anything please question me and hold me accountable. If you want to know what progress I have made in a month or so with Charity donations, or how I am getting on with packaging I would love you to get in touch and ask me . If you think I have overlooked something, If you think you can help me or have any advice in these areas I would love nothing more than a chat with you about it .

I think the time has come and gone for the bullshit where we all pretend we know everything and put up a facade, I know some things but I bet alot of you know even more . I have great extensive experience in dealing antique jewellery, but I still know very little when it comes to supply chains and all the problems that can arise . 

Please get in touch using my email at the bottom of the page or my Instagram DMs if you want any clarification or want to talk to me - I am very friendly I won't bite ! Also be reassured that any of the costs with packaging I will be making sure not to affect the current post and packaging costs too much . I currently try to just charge the cost of sending the item to you without taking into account too much of the packaging ( for international customers you currently just pay the postal charge because it is so expensive ). 


 

© 2018 by Charlies Vintage Charms | info@charliesvintagecharms.com | Hertfordshire