Eco and fashion. Two words I would not think of using conjunctively. Have you tried finding environmentally-friendly apparel that did not consist of a t-shirt? I have... believe me, there are A LOT of t-shirts out there. How about a cute dress? That does not cost $200? Is that too much to ask? $200.00 is beyond my budget these days - any days. The economy sucks, money is tight - I get it... you get it... we all get it. So what is a fashion-starved eco-hero to do? How about punch up your current wardrobe with accessories? A statement piece is the quickest, easiest way to breath life into your current wardrobe while getting a lot of bang for your buck.
When choosing a statement piece, think about the statement it is making. "Hello, I'm a fashion forward design, creating a greener planet, and providing a path out of poverty for artisans using fair trade principles..." is a lovely one. And that is just what The Andean Collection does. The Andean Collection is comprised of handcrafted jewelry made by artisans in Ecuador using natural seeds that have been sustainably harvested from the rainforests and lowlands of South America. Since trees need not be cut for the harvesting of seeds, inhabitants have a viable source of income without selling their land to destructive logging industries. Through a very manual process, seeds are transformed into beads, and then beads are assembled into beautiful
jewelry works of art.
Not only are the materials used natural and sustainably harvested, but the company's product tags and marketing materials are printed on recycled paper, the office uses energy-efficient lighting and recycles, and the producers have good working conditions (their home workshops!) and are paid a decent wage. In fact, they are part owners in the organization.
As if that is not enough, The Andean Collection has a spin off - The Andean Project - that pays the secondary school fees of any of the artisans themselves, their children or siblings. While I have greened up nearly every aspect of my life, my wardrobe remains defunct. I am willing to pay more for organic food and make sacrifices for the environment, but $70.00 for a ho-hum organic t-shirt is not a sacrifice I or my wallet is willing to make. A necklace or bracelet (I'm lusting over this one) that can be worn over and over again with a multitude of outfits, that was made using natural materials sustainably harvested, that the producers were paid a fair wage for, that helped save the rainforest, that helped children continue their education, and that was actually fashionable... now that is a statement I can get behind.
Look and good and do good - from seed to bead.