Finishing Touches: Ethical Accessories

Finishing Touches: Ethical AccessorizingHere are some tips for how to find and pick ethical accessories to add the finishing touches to your fashion style.

Out of all the changes that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps one of the most striking was the renewed attention given to social and environmental issues.

In the silence of lockdowns, topics that were already simmering away were brought to the forefront of people’s minds.

More consumers sought ways to make more eco-friendly, ethical, and sustainable choices.

Frequently, the first topics that spring to mind when discussing this might have to do with our food choices or clothing. When discussing how to dress more ethically we tend to talk about what’s in our closets. We talk less so about what’s in our jewelry box.

This is why I’ve put together this guide on how to choose ethical accessories to add the finishing touches to your conscious closet.

As you might already know I’m a bestselling personal development author  – with about 2 million books and courses sold globally.

I offer a range of online marketing tools in my course: How To Make Profitable Courses – Without The Overwhelm.

I love helping people to live their most happy, successful and fulfilling lives.

To help you achieve that goal, here is a quick guide to fashionable, ethical accessories.

Guide to Ethical Accessories

Here’s how to find and pick ethical accessories.

1. Ethical Jewelry: Precious Metals and Gems

One only has to look at satellite images of gold, silver, or precious gem mines to get an overview of the damaging effects it can have on local ecosystems:

  • soil erosion
  • deforestation
  • pollution
  • and then some

The negative impact on the environment has a knock-on effect on local mining communities. Due to poor regulations, many people are often underpaid and placed in dangerous working conditions. They are exposed to toxic chemicals—some from an especially young age.

When buying gold or silver, avoid fast-fashion plated pieces that tarnish easily and opt for second-hand, vintage, or newer styles that have been certified by reputable organizations like The Responsible Jewellry Council or FLO-Cert.

For precious gems, lab created diamonds offer a brilliant alternative to earth-mined versions, with very little difference between the two. Alternatively, you can opt to support local ethical jewelry-making businesses, or even start your own.

2. Ethical Leather Accessories

Of the different materials used to make our bags, belts, and footwear, debate persists over which is more environmentally friendly: synthetic leather (alternatively known as “vegan” leather) or the real McCoy.

These are the key differences between the two:

Ethical Animal Leather

As it stands, the meat industry is neither ethical nor sustainable: meat production is one of the key causes of climate change, accounting for around 14.5% of all greenhouse emissions annually. While arguments in favor of animal leather hold some weight (primarily its biodegradability—although this can depend on how it’s been processed) new leather production is still partially fuelling the meat industry, even as a byproduct of it.

Ethical Vegan Leather

On the face of it, vegan leather appears to be the more eco-friendly option. However it’s not without its downsides: the most common form of this is polyvinyl chloride (also commonly known as PVC), which is made with fossil fuels and is non-biodegradable.

Simply seeing a leather item labeled as vegan isn’t enough. Ut’s important to understand what it’s made from. In some cases it can be more innovative, environmentally friendlier materials. For example, Piñatex, a leather made from pineapple leaves.

Key Issues with the Fashion Industry

The primary issues with the fashion industry concern environmental and humanitarian issues. Besides greenhouse gas emissions and textiles going to landfill—some of which is being mitigated by companies opting to use “deadstock” or recycled materials—environmental pollution and animal cruelty continue to present major concerns.

The environmental issues negatively impact communities. Many are displaced due to pollution and erosion making land uninhabitable and unsafe to live on. Human rights issues are further compounded by forced labor and dangerous working conditions in a variety of settings including mines and factories.

The Supply Chain: Why it’s Important

We’ve previously covered how to build a more ethical, eco-friendly wardrobe. When it comes to accessories you can take similar measures such as repairing old pieces and purchasing second-hand items. But if you’re buying new, the key consideration to look at is the supply chain.

The supply chain describes all the stages involved in the manufacturing and shipping processes of a product from the sourcing of raw materials to point of sale, and all the individuals and groups involved in its production and distribution.

A transparent, ethical supply chain leaves no room for guesswork: it should be able to tell you whether materials are sustainable and whether the workers who made them were fairly paid. They should also be able to provide evidence to support their claims.

How Can I Tell Whether a Supply Chain is Ethical?

While some companies offer complete transparency, others tend to be more vague. The fashion industry, like many others, is rife with “greenwashing”. This term refers to otherwise unethical products disguised with claims of eco-friendliness and integrity.

Low prices can be an indicator that something is too good to be true. But the cost doesn’t necessarily indicate whether a product is ethical. It can be difficult to research individual supply chains, so seek companies who are transparent about theirs: Ethical Consumer and Good on You are two useful resources for this.

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