For the final Sustainable Systems Project, the following materials were used and incorporated: mycelium and collected plastic bags to create a pair of earrings. In this generation, there is a constant production of jewellery due to the constant demand of newer trends and fashion. The environment is taking a big toll due to the mass production of accessories. The jewellery industry is not considered a major environmental issue compared to the usage of plastic; however, it is an industry where natural resources are being used exponentially wasted, and as well as impacting the environment in a harmful way.
This project addresses issues of sustainability in the jewellery industry. The constant mining for gold, silver, diamonds, metals, and other gemstones leads to harming the environment with “water pollution, greenhouse gas emission, and soil erosion” due to the exposure of toxic chemicals. This is an issue that needs more exposure to the media, and more artists should create jewelry with new sustainable materials. For example, “Dr. Doug Guthrie, dean of International Business and Management at the George Washington University School of Business, and a team of researchers compiled a report in 2010, titled “The Environmental Impact of Mining Precious Metals and Gemstones: The Case for Putting Jewelry Back Into Circulation.”, where Guthrie explored the dangers and harms of mining to people and the environment. In the report, it explains the use of cyanide and its usage separating gold. A statistical fact in this report states that “20 tons of waste are produced for every ounce of gold. An average large-scale gold mine uses 1,900 tons of cyanide annually.”
Some methods that the jewellery industry and the consumers can do to improve and reduce the harm to the environment are the following: create and recycle jewellery by collecting materials (washers, wire, and more), buy from eco-friendly jewelry, buy local jewelry, and support organizations (Ethical Metalsmiths and Fair Jewellery Action) where their goals are the improve the global mining industry).
For this project, the material that was experimented with to create an earring piece was with mycelium. This is a conceptual jewellery piece where the purpose was to show the contrast between the environment and the jewellery industry. The original earring piece consisted of a pearl. Pearls do not have a mining process; however it is also a concern for the environment as well. Pearls are collected by oysters being raised by nets, and a lot of organisms such as barnacles and sponges grow on them. The process of washing the organisms off the oysters is an issue. According to Kent E. Carpenter, a professor of biology at Old Dominion University in Virginia, told National Geographic: “If the wash goes directly back into the lagoon, then you are adding a lot of organic material. It may be too much for fish and other organisms to break down right away, so it could lead to algal blooms and deoxygenation—a small dead zone.”
The mycelium covered in plastic represents the environment on Earth that is being harmed from toxic chemicals and metals that are attached to it. The gold piece of the earring and crystal jewellery represents how the industry is in control of the environment.
Creating personal jewellery is a form of sustainability as well as reducing the environmental cost of jewellery. The purpose of this piece of jewelry was to represent how materials other than gemstones and metal can still look classy and clean. The visual aesthetic concept of this piece was simplicity, and can be differentiated products from similar ones because the material that was used for this project was mycelium (mushrooms).
Currently, I am undeclared, and my interests lay at a variety of directions. However, the two majors that I am leaning towards are communications and product design. I have always had an affinity towards photography, but I believe that it is a good skill set to have for the majors I am interested in than majoring in photography. So, I created a product where I chose the concept and took pictures of the product with different combinations.
- “How Jewelry Production Hurts the Environment, Eco-Friendly Options.” Www.theepochtimes.com, The Epoch Times, 24 Dec. 2013, www.theepochtimes.com/how-jewelry-production-hurts-the-environment-eco-friendly-options_415861.html.
- Naughton, Julia. “Is Your Jewellery Hurting The Planet? It’s Time To Open Our Eyes.” HuffPost Australia, HuffPost Australia, 9 Mar. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/03/07/the-environmental-cost-of-jewellery-this-brand-is-opening-eyes_a_21875765/.
- Hill, Andrea. “The Challenge of Creating Responsible Jewelry.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 31 Aug. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/andreahill/2018/08/29/the-challenge-of-creating-responsible-jewelry/#5943feb42fe6.
- Kaye, Leon. “Jewellery Manufacturers and Retailers Confronting Water Issues.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Aug. 2011, www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/jewellery-manufacturers-water-issues-gold-mining.