Today we publish our second blog post of Louping You In on Earth Day. Did you know this significant day was established in April of 1970, and gave rise to the American Environmental Protection Agency?

This year’s Earth Day theme is Planet vs. Plastics. Plastics are pervasive in just about every industry, and the jewellery industry is no different. The bulk of the plastic we use at FTJCo is in packaging. Items we receive from our suppliers are often sealed in plastic or packaged with bubble wrap. And in our own processes, we use small plastic baggies to protect jewellery items in production. We mitigate our plastic footprint by reusing as much as possible, and recycling everything else. We’re also constantly on the lookout for alternative materials that offer a more sustainable solution. This is an area where we’d like to improve - the 2024 Earth Day theme is a great reminder to refocus our efforts on plastic reduction at FTJCo!

Current Plastic Use

The zip-top bags we use in production protect our jewellery from getting scratched and keep gemstones from getting lost. For example, when we’re working on an engagement ring, we put the gemstones to be set into the ring in their own baggie labeled with the gem details, and then put our cast ring in another plastic baggie. Both of these two bags are kept in a paper envelope - known in the industry as a ‘job bag’. This way, all items are nicely organized and can be taken out of their plastic baggie homes during various stages of production and then tucked back in at the end of the day. Many of the items we work with are quite small and precious - imagine trying to keep track of twenty 1.2 mm diamonds going into a halo setting! Using these small bags is essential for ensuring those teeny tiny diamonds don’t get lost or mixed up with the wrong project. Wherever possible, we reuse these baggies until they fall apart or become grubby. We’d love to switch to a plant-based alternative, so if you have any great leads please send them our way.

It’s one thing to make a positive switch when we’re the ones buying the plastic, but it’s a lot trickier when we’re on the receiving end of plastic mailers and bubble wrap. While some of our vendors have switched to paper mailers, we’re often sent materials wrapped in bubble wrap to protect them. These are precious objects, and care must be taken. When we receive these materials, we reuse them as best we can, but we are always trying to find better ways to manage our plastic waste. 

FTJCo Packaging

For our part, we recently switched the packaging materials we send to clients. We spent a lot of time and effort ensuring it was responsibly sourced, environmentally friendly, and high quality. We chose a material for our ring boxes, jewellery pouches, and polishing cloths that is made almost entirely from recycled plastic. And we made sure that these boxes are so beautiful and functional that clients will want to hang on to them and use them for many years to come, rather than chucking them in the garbage. You can read more about our amazing new packaging here

Similarly, when we launched our new line of everyday 14K and silver jewellery called Parliament, we wanted to ensure the packaging would be economical while maintaining a small environmental footprint. As a result, we use 100% recycled paper for our earring, necklace, and charm backers, and tuck them into natural cotton drawstring bags. As natural materials, these will decompose over time, leaving no plastic residue behind. Our philosophy is that anything that will be automatically tossed after purchase, like the earring backers, should be small, made from plant materials instead of petro-chemicals, and should be easy to recycle. And anything that could be kept or used indefinitely should be well made, so it can stand up to years of use. Of course, we’re always trying to ensure our packaging is beautiful and functional, as well as environmentally friendly! It’s a lot to balance, but it’s important.

Next Steps

At FTJCo we’ve struggled in the past with whether or not we should call ourselves an activist company. Activism denotes the act of organizing others and using demonstration as a means to an end. While we are actively working on change in our industry, it’s less about rallies and more about day-to-day efforts to promote change, so we like to say we are ‘champions’ of social and environmental change. The Cambridge Dictionary defines champion as “a person who enthusiastically supports, defends, or fights for a person, belief, right, or principle.” So that’s us, enthusiastic defenders of environmental and social best practices in the jewellery industry. Won’t you join us?

Action items for FTJCo following this post: 

  1. Find alternative baggies for production made from a biodegradable material
  2. Encourage our vendors to reduce their use of plastic shipping materials

Written and edited by the team at FTJCo