Here's How Sustainable Jewellery Brand, Article 22, Turns Shrapnel and Scrap Metal Into Jewellery Pieces
Every fashion brand has an inspiration behind its creation - something that spurred it to life. This inspiration turns stories that are portrayed through the pieces these brands produce.
For FYNE jewellery, the inspiration was to take out the detrimental impact of the diamond industry on the environment, for PICO, it was the need to create sustainable underwear for all, and for Article 22, it is the need turn something negative into something positive.
Article 22 is a jewellery brand with a difference. Co-founded in 2013 by Elizabeth Suda, the fashion brand makes elegant jewellery pieces from detonated shrapnel and scrap aluminium. In essence, they transform weapons into wearable art. The brand makes earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings.
The brand which works with local artisans in Laos derives its name from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states 'the necessity of national effort and international co-operation to ensure everyone’s economic, social and cultural rights, which are indispensable for dignity and the free development of personality.'
The journey to the birth of Article 22 started when its founder, who had been questioning "how and by whom the goods we consume are made", quit her job at Coach and travelled to Laos. She went there to "understand their modern use of ancient techniques of natural dyeing and handloom weaving".
One day, she noticed local artisans in a rural village melting detonated US bombs into spoons. This inspired her to create a bracelet to tell the story of the artisans, the Secret War in Laos, and allow people to buy back the bombs as fair trade jewellery.
Article 22 and Giving Back
Article 22 is a member of the Fair Trade Federation and they pay their artisans a minimum of 5x the local minimum hourly wage, providing them with enough income for school books, school fees, fuel, and medicines. They also, where possible, allow their artisans work from home instead of from a factory
They donate 10% on top of every order to the Village Development Fund which administers business or personal loans and pays for village development. They also conduct training physically and virtually to upgrade the skills of their workers and improve the quality of their goods.
Also, 10% of their production cost is donated to Mines Advisory Group which is an INGO that works alongside the Lao government to clear unexploded bombs from the land in Laos.
Collections By Article 22
Article 22 has released a total of 2 collections, with every piece locally handcrafted in Laos using recycled materials from Vietnam War bombs, plane parts, military hardware and other aluminium scraps. Their collections include the Peacebomb and Artist & Activists Collection.
The Peacebomb collection is the first collection by the brand and it was created as a way to take the local innovation of Laos global. It was also used as a means to raise awareness and funds for MAG (Mines Advisory Group) to clear some of the 80 million unexploded bombs left in the country.
Artist & Activists Collection
Their Artist & Activists collection was created in partnership with leaders across a myriad of fields, and features limited edition pieces that are engraved with "hopeful messages that envision and inspire action toward a universally intersectional, just, and peaceful future."
Pros of Recycling Scrap Metal
1. Less Waste
Using recycled metals for jewellery pieces translates to producing lass waste. Metals that would otherwise have ended up in landfills, polluting the environment, is reused. Since it takes metal a long time to break down naturally when thrown away, recycling and upcycling thee metal pieces is a more sustainable practice and is good for our environment.
Like Jumoke Olowookere of the African Creative Hub said in an exclusive we had with her,
"For each waste we are able to save from ending up in landfills and oceans, we are contributing to the reduction of climate change."
2. Less Mining
Using recycled metals in the process of creating jewellery and other items is that it removes the need to find new metal through mining. The mining process is usually expensive, time-consuming, and energy-intensive, so recycling metals saves resources.
Cons of Recycling Scrap Metal
1. High Energy Use
The process of transforming scrap metal into a pure, usable form consumes huge amounts of energy. It takes a great amount of heat to melt metal and more energy to properly filter and recast it. These practices produce emissions that are not good for the environment.
What Does Using Recycled Metals Mean for Innovation in the Fashion Industry?
The fashion industry needs to use recycled metals more often to produce beautiful globally-marketable products.
When it comes to fashion, there are no limitations to innovation. Turning the use of scrap metal into a widely accepted and followed practice in the industry will see the innovation leap to new heights.
It will see brands begin to do things that never been done before, therefore, taking fashion to the next level.