Cara in her personal life lives a low plastic, environmentally conscious lifestyle, and protecting the ocean and environment is very important to her and so it is natural for this to carry over to byCARA. So, our aim is to bring you trendy jewellery that does not cost you the earth but also doesn't come at the earth's expense.
Over the three years of byCARA we have slowly made small changes to limit our environmental impact. Now, in 2021 we are finally able to say that from May we will be manufacturing most of our new merchandise in stainless steel and come with a 18K gold PVD coating and we will no longer use any new plastic packaging (other than our courier bag - we're working on it!) by introducing our new biodegradable packaging.
Why stainless steel?
Stainless Steel is 100% recyclable and is a green product. Stainless steel does not produce toxic run-off. A huge difference can be made by brands and shoppers by choosing stainless steel over non-recyclable materials. It is also one of the least energy and resource intensive metals. It also lasts longer! It is a highly durable metal that doesn’t oxidise or rust which means it doesn’t turn green. This is because it has chromium in its composition. Plus, it’s a hard material, so it doesn’t scratch easily. Stainless steel is also a hypoallergenic material, therefore suitable for those people who have an allergy to silver. Stainless steel is less allergenic than jewellery made of other metals, but it still does contain a small amount of nickel.
And it isn't toxic, by itself, as it is not coated with any toxic material. So choosing a safe gold coating was the next step...
Currently our stainless steel range is water resistant to the shower but not the pool (chlorine) or ocean (saltwater). Stainless steel is more durable and will last way longer in the pool and ocean than any other metal, but eventually will rust over time. Not with a PVD coating! PVD also means it’s still environmentally friendly! We set out to find not only a waterproof solution to make them last longer and easier to wear for you, but also wanted to choose the lowest environmentally impacting one. We are proud to have partnered with a new factory who use PVD. When compared with other common options, this process does not create any of the hazardous waste. And, the colouring process does not limit the recycling value of stainless steel.
But how it is waterproof?
PVD coating is the most modern coating process available and lasts way longer. Most fashion jewellery on the market is gold plated. Gold plating is the most common coating process and occurs when a thin layer of real gold is plated over another base metal such as brass. The jewellery is dipped in real gold, like a “bath”. Depending on the thickness of the layer of gold, this can last more or less time. But the 18K gold PVD coating can be 10 times thicker than standard gold plating and uses a titanium nitride that provides an extremely durable coating that makes our jewellery more resistant to corrosion from sweat and regular wear than the usual gold plating. This means you can swim, bath, shower, sweat and it won't tarnish which also means by our new pieces being waterproof it helps stop the cycle of throwing out your fave pieces because it would lose their beautiful colour after a few wears.
*NOTE: ONLY ITEMS MARKED AS PVD PLATED ARE WATERPROOF, ALL OTHER STAINLESS STEEL ITEMS ARE REAL GOLD PLATED AND WATER RESISTANT IN THE SHOWER.
Why new packaging?
Our original packaging not only created plastic waste but also involved a lot of paper. And although we then started using recyclable plastic, we were not content in knowing we are causing more plastic creation. So we set out to design packaging that was better for the planet, looks cool and could be re-used. Our new packaging which we will phase in as of May 2021 will be entirely biodegradable, plastic free and uses way less paper and cardboard! But we need your help here...
Most biodegradable products create the greenhouse gas methane if they break down in landfills because in landfills they are forced to break down without the help of oxygen. And this defeats the purpose of our aim so, sending biodegradable products to the landfill in your normal garbage is just as bad. We urge you to firstly reuse the boxes to store your byCARA pieces or dispose of them correctly in the compost heap or recycling bin.
Please note until our older brass gold plated, plastic packaged items are sold out, it is important to make sure you read the product descriptions to see which are stainless steel PVD. Here and there we still may sell some non-plated brass items and older pieces that are still in their plastic packaging, so please take note when shopping your pieces and dispose of the plastic responsibly.
What are our labour practices?
In our mission to be sustainable, transparent and fairly priced we are extremely careful when choosing our producers and suppliers. We are a South African based small business, but there is no machinery in South Africa that produces stainless steel PVD fashion jewellery or general brass fashion jewellery that is gold plated so we are not able to have a fully country-centered supply chain, and are forced to our producers in China. Be assured we have met and visited and inspected every factory we work with and can assure you that there’s no bad labour practices involved at any of them. If we suspect that something doesn't go hand in hand with our ethics we will interrupt all the agreements immediately. In every other instance such as production of our content shoots, head office, printer company etc we always hire local individuals and companies.