Thursday, August 02, 2012

Trials and tribulations of trying to be socially responsible

There are heaps of reasons for why people care about climate change enough that they change their life style.

For some it's because millions of peoples livelihoods are and are going to be drastically altered or destroyed as the climate changes.

For some it's that our children's home will be one that we won't recognise because the environment is so changed.

For some it's all about fossil fuels - why use something that makes people sick? That causes wars? That is destroying beautiful landscapes.

As I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

For me, it has never been about the people. It has always been about giving the tree that is thousands of years old a voice to say "hey don't tear me down" and the animals habitats who are being destroyed. It's about the beautiful river that can't say "stop polluting me."

I've tried to make changes to my life so I'm protecting those things that I care about: the health of our planet. I try to buy food that is locally grown and organically grown. I try to limit how much travel I do by car (it helps not owning one); I work hard on a less is more attitude when it comes to things I own.

But the harder part is actually making decisions on what to buy. Food is easy - it's something I'm really passionate about and so it's easy for me to make the less packages, more organic, more free range choice. 

Clothes on the other hand? I struggle a lot. That sweater probably isn't made from fields that get crop rotation and no pesticides and how do I know that? Because it's $9.

My point is this - this week I bought my wedding band.  If you remember last September before we got married the first time, I purchased this incredibly gorgeous ring seen here.  I've never been that into diamonds and this pearl ring is incredibly me, so it was a match made in heaven.

However, pearl rings are not meant for every day wear.

So I knew a couple of things when I was looking for a wedding band:

One I wanted it to fit with my engagement ring
Two I wanted to be able to wear it while gardening, washing the dishes, and swimming in the ocean
Three I'm allergic to gold, and I find plain silver rings to be a bit boring - so I wanted a stone.

And so, I began to talk to NodeForm again - we talked about stones I could black diamonds (for a girl who doesn't like diamonds, I'm quite smitten with black diamonds) we talked about sapphires, we talked about heaps of stones.

As it turns out...gem stones aren't real ethical. Diamonds in particular. I didn't know what to do. I agonised over this decision for weeks. What kind of person am I, if I know and understand the problems that are caused by mining for diamonds, and then I buy one anyway?

NodeForm has been amazing to work with (yet again), and been patient while I've hemmed and hawed over whether I can wear a 'conflict free' diamond without feeling horrible about myself.

In the end, 'conflict free' is what I ended up going with - I feel like it's a slight cop 'Free Range' which doesn't mean, usually, what we imagine, how conflict free are conflict free diamonds?

The ring is beautiful - but making these decisions is so hard for me.

What do you do when faced with ethical dilemmas?


  1. I generally try to do the same thing. Local, organic, free range... But there are a lot of things that make it more complex than it should be. As a result, sadly, I have a tendency to give up.

    For instance, I'm a poor uni student; I live on loans that'll be crushing me unless I pay them back ASAP (while still maintaining my sanity). I can't really negotiate my technology prices. I could research it until I've lost my mind, but I still have no clue where most of it was done. Clothing's the same way (so I try to stick with thrift stores, which rarely works out -- most of the sizes just don't work or don't exist).

    I think that's the most frustrating part. Trying to be socially conscious when you're already struggling enough as it is and places require you have certain things (like, it's almost impossible to get through uni without a laptop -- you'd probably find a way to pay more in printing fees at my uni than a new laptop costs). PS: #firstworldproblems (in the tech portion).

  2. Hmm I kind of went through a similar thing with the diamond issue and opted for an artificial one instead.. To my eyes it's just as pretty, easier on the budget and no fears it's a blood diamond.. But I can understand it's not for everyone. It's so hard figuring out all this wedding stuff!!

  3. My Mom went with an artificial one. I think I would too. My great-grandmother's was just a thin plain silver band. I must admit I adore the beauty of it and how she endured during the depression.

  4. Well you are a much better woman than I because I shamefully admit I don't think much about these kinds of things (will I be banished from the interwebs for admitting this??!!) I do know that diamond mining, & mining in general, is terrible for the environment but it's eons better than it used to be (I work in the industry).

    I'm glad you found something you like & I hope you don't feel guilty whenever you look at it. When faced with ethical dilemmas I try to step back & see the big picture - who is this really hurting & why? What are my alternatives? What is my ultimate end game ie. what do I gain vs. what's the cost to society, etc?

  5. @Nikki - I find thrift stores REALLY hard. I find shopping in general really hard. I usually know exactly what I'm looking for and so finding it at all is problematic but thrift stores is harder - I should try more though.

    @Kate - I probably didn't do enough research on artificial - but I only really like the black diamonds. And the diamond is TINY.

    @Ellie - If the ring didn't need to fit around my engagement ring, I would've gone for plain silver band I think. But the shape is going to be a bit funny.

    @Mrs C - Of course you won't be banished from the internet! Everyone has different things they care about...And that's cool.

  6. I'm a professional environmental manager in the construction industry (so, I work for the devil anyhow!) so for me, most of it is about best-practice environmental protection and harm minimisation and conservation, all for the sake of protecting the environment and not the humans. Mother Earth was here first!

    I try to make ethical decisions but it's so hard. Rice, for example - do I buy Australian made, which is grown in a totally unsustainable environment but supports our economy and has a lesser carbon footprint, or do I buy Pakistani rice and ignore the carbon miles and labour issues? I chose my engagement ring from a jeweller that makes an effort to source quality diamonds from Europe, but gives no guarantee that they are conflict free. The majority of their feature pieces are Australian Argyle diamonds, which I heard is almost the only sure-fire way to ensure your diamond is conflict-free. Apparently they engrave teensy-tiny serial numbers on them so that they're totally tracable... and cost a bajillion dollars! I really commend you for the effort. And I really like the pearl ring :)

  7. Lady! Clothes are easy - op shop or hand made. Except underwear. That's just......ew.

    I had a ring made from recycled gold using a stone from another piece of jewellery (old mine). It was much easier than trying to guarantee the source of new materials.

    What do I do when faced with ethical dilemmas? Usually obsess over the way(s) that I could/should be addressing said dilemma. Is there any other way for a deep thinking person to behave?

  8. Being a good citizen of the planet is so hard sometimes! But it sounds like you're doing an awesome job, keep it up! And I love the pearl ring!!