Beer bottles, brooms and floors are not the first things that come to mind when you think of jewellery. But with the imagination and passion from designer Katie Johnston, these products are all perfectly suited to make a gorgeous necklace or bracelet for her ethical accessory brand, EcoBling.
Australia-based EcoBling focuses on using upcycled materials once destined for landfills to create gorgeous and unique accessories. After falling in love with upcycling, Johnston says “I committed myself to steer clear of the consumption dilemma (that is that land clearing, environmental pollutants, waste is still created even with the best organic and fair trade products) by only using recycled materials in production.”
Johnston travelled for six years once she finished school, which helped her gain important insight about the world. After working in a social change consultancy, she learned about upcycling: “I had found my path and after walking along it I came to discover my skills in jewellery design and creation.” A year later in the summer of 2015, she started EcoBling. “I...knew with all my heart I wanted to create a positive environmental impact.”
Once she got some backing from investors, Johnston was finally able to put all her skills together and create her brand. Her photography, graphic design, and business administration, combined with her passion for the environment, paved the way for her line of eco-friendly jewellery.
Johnston didn’t stop there, however; EcoBling does so much more than just the minimum. They plant a tree for every piece sold, and they partner with Indigenous Australian communities to create a range of designs inspired by the culture of First Nation Australians. Most recently, Johnston had the opportunity to visit Nepal to explore a new project.
The new project in their upcoming jewellery line is called Shake-It-Up Nepal. After hearing about the 2015 Nepal earthquake, Johnston knew she wanted to do something to bring aid to the country. “I wasn't in a position to hand over large wads of cash but I thought, ‘perhaps there is something a little more innovative I could do.’” She travelled there with some friends and they were able to teach affected communities how to make beads from the earthquake rubble. The beads contribute to EcoBling’s new range, launching November 1st. “The makers are being paid $1AUD per bead and about 20 beads can be made in an hour. This equates to a months wage in one day! The rest of the profits go towards raising money to fund the rebuild of their community house so they can start their businesses again.” It’s a positive impact on the people and environment in Nepal.
Presently, EcoBling is committed to continue these efforts in other areas around the world. “EcoBling intends on replicating this model to respond to other natural disasters, social issues and environmental concerns,” Johnston says. “We have already begun developing our next projects in Kenya, Bangladesh and India.”
This is a stunning example of how EcoBling pays it forward, and echoes the reason Moyo World was created: to discover brands like these that do so much more than just create clothing for a profit. For us, what is most important is the message behind every brand, and the opportunity for each individual to make an impact on the world.