International Customers - Please Read before Buying These Earrings
In 1901, a huia feather was presented to the Duke of York, heir to the British throne, during his visit to Aotearoa New Zealand and in 2020 I gifted a pair of huia feather earrings made from recycled plastic to Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.
I chose huia feathers for the earrings to tell the story of the unintended consequences that can arise when sustainable practices aren’t integrated into our desire for new things.
The huia was the most sacred bird to Maori and feathers were given as a token of friendship and respect. In pre-European times only high ranking chiefs and their whanau (family) wore the tail feathers in their hair. By 1900 huia numbers were decreasing mainly due to habitat loss, but the international fashion craze sparked by the Duke of York was the final blow for the huia and it went extinct in 1907.
Over 100 years later and nothing’s changed. Our love for fashion still impacts the environment far from where we live - think of Indonesian orangutans dying so palm oil can be put in our cosmetics or the fashion industry producing 10% of global carbon emissions in factories far from our closets.
And while our earrings are made from recycled plastic it may come as a surprise that we don't believe recycling is the solution to the plastic pollution problem. Our aim is to use recycling as a mechanism to encourage behaviour change - to encourage people to become more aware of their personal plastic consumption.
Even when we use as many recycled materials as possible everything we produce consumes some of the earth’s resources. It would be hypocritical for me to talk about reducing consumption while at the same time selling the earrings internationally - where the carbon produced by airfreighting them to you would negate any environmental benefits of the recycled plastic. Our current economic system means I have to earn money to pay my bills and look after my daughter, so I’m thankful for the number of New Zealanders who have supported my small business. But for me to sell the earrings internationally would be repeating the tragedy of the extinction of the huia - using NZ’s precious resources as an international fashion accessory.
So, if you live outside of New Zealand, please don’t buy these earrings. Instead we ask that you support Remix Plastic’s work through our Patreon page so we can continue to encourage and empower individuals to make sustainable changes. Support us through the Huia feather tier and we’ll send you a virtual pair of earrings and our big thanks that you are thinking about the environment before you buy.
Want to learn more?
Listen to Remix Plastic’s So Circular radio show episode on Ethical and Sustainable Fashion
Painting by J. G. Keulemans from W.L Buller’s A History of the Birds of New Zealand (1888)