As I pursue eco-friendly products and research eco-lifestyle topics, I have the amazing privilege of meeting other like-minded souls. It is thrilling to see the eco-community gain strength in numbers. There is inspiration in learning from each other and excitement in growing together. It is a true gift that we are able to lift each other up, not just locally, but worldwide.
I find so much joy in this part of my journey that I cannot help but share all this goodness with you. I hope you enjoy these stories and the missions of other eco-minded souls and organizations as much as I do.
Whistle While She Works
Many of my newer friendships have evolved through networking opportunities and conversations about eco-friendly practices. My connection to Rejewel is greater than that.
Rejewel first found me on social media. Anyone interested in ECO CRATES of America piques my interest; so within a few days, I checked out Rejewel. A reel of hers appeared in my feed. If you are not familiar with reels on Instagram, they are similar to little video clips with sound. In this video, I watched as various pieces of plastic debris were cut up into tiny pieces of microplastics. The process was mesmerizing. In the reel, I also noticed how organized her work station was; the beautiful colors of materials were in order and lined up neatly. The video and the music made the process look so fun. I got the feeling she was whistling while she worked!
These micro-plastics were then carefully placed into a special pattern inside a form pan and covered with a special solution. The next clip displayed a beautiful array of gorgeous earrings. Not just any earrings though — beautiful, dangling earrings. I am a lover of these types of earrings, so you can imagine why this got my attention.
How It Got Personal
Please indulge me as I get personal. When my mother-in-law, Barbara, was alive, she shared with me how dangles ruined her ear lobes. In her sixties, she was forced to wear clip-ons, as years of heavy dangles elongated not only her earlobes, but the piercings themselves. It was all about the heavy weight of them. She eventually resolved to clip-ons as a last resort. Barbara, or Barb as she was affectionately known, was a very wise woman. So you bet I was quick to listen to her sage words, heed her advice and steer clear of heavy dangles myself.
Yes — I just called my Mother-In-Law wise. She was an amazing woman, whom I love and to this day, miss her dearly. I guess you can say I was one of the lucky ones. With that, I retired my own beloved dangles. Over the years, it has been rare to find lightweight pairs that are stylish. When I viewed Sandra’s video, I immediately wrote to her asking about the weight of her designs. Lo and behold, they weighed between 0.4 oz/1g for studs up to 0.14oz/5g for the larger ones. So now, with Rejewel, I have options that I could never have dreamed of. Additionally, they are sustainably made from materials that would simply live forever in a landfill. If only Barb was still here for me to share them with her.
The Founder of Rejewel
Sandra, the founder of Rejewel, is a military wife, mom, science teacher, and aspiring environmental scientist. Her journey with science began in 5th grade when her science teacher inspired her sense of wonder and curiosity. Now in her mid-twenties, the influence of that teacher still fuels her goals and ambitions today.
While science has been a great passion for some time, her journey of learning about plastic pollution is quite new. It started when she saw an Instagram ad for plastic-free hand soap. Like many of us, she had never really thought about the plastic bottles that contain our hand soap. She was curious about why she should consider an alternative; soap was soap, right? She didn’t understand why the packaging mattered. So, like any good scientist, she started asking questions. That’s the day she says she began “falling into a rabbit hole.”
In her initial research, Sandra quickly learned that humans have created a huge problem with the manufacturing of plastics. This is an issue that many are still oblivious to, because historically, plastic pollution was never discussed in school. As a science teacher, she realized she had an opportunity to make a difference. She began incorporating the data about plastic pollution into her environmental lessons.
“Education is the first step in solving an issue.”
– Sandra, Founder of Rejewel
The facts she has since learned about plastic continue to leave her speechless. She is grateful that it has been easy for her to get people’s attention with everything she now knows and shares. Even her students are flabbergasted to learn that there is a floating garbage patch twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean. This fact was also news to me. I am quite aware of the issues with pollution in our oceans, but I had no idea that this mass existed.
As her research continued, she thought recycling could be a viable solution. If only it were as simple as raising awareness. Unfortunately, the more she researched recycling practices, she was shocked once again to learn that this avenue was also a dead end.
“We just need to be better about recycling, right?” but it gets worse. Turns out, recycling is pretty much a sham. Less than one tenth of it is recycled, and the plastic that is recycled can only be recycled up to two times before it loses its durability.”
-Sandra, Founder of Rejewel
Along the way down the rabbit hole, Sandra found more chaos with our earth’s plastic pollution. She stumbled upon an episode of her favorite podcast “Science Rules”. It was titled “SOS: Save Our Sperm”. She was awestruck to learn that there is a link between plastics and decreased fertility in men. Science has proven a decreased sperm count in men associated with the very same chemicals found in plastics.
“So, not only is it an environmental issue, but it is also a health issue…..then I find myself walking through the grocery store and noticing that every shelf is covered in all these products, packaged in plastic, and I almost feel helpless. How could anyone possibly live a life without using any plastic?” -Sandra, Founder of Rejewel
This new found knowledge has inspired this teacher to cut out several plastic-packaged products, as well as become a more conscious consumer in her everyday purchases. Her passion has gone beyond mere personal changes, as she has become an advocate for omitting plastic and is determined to see this change in the lives of her friends and family, as well as everyone else’s path she crosses.
Just last year, she spent an entire month researching and creating informational pamphlets to distribute, along with a plastic-free starter kit, giving them out as Christmas gifts. Within the starter kit, there was upcycled plastic jewelry. That’s where she first got her inspiration to create her own upcycled jewelry.
Inspired to Rejewel
Now, in addition to teaching, parenting, and being a military wife, she also repurposes colorful, household plastics and ocean plastics to create fun, unique, lightweight jewelry.
She created Rejewel to help keep plastic out of landfills and oceans. She realizes that this effort is a drop in the ocean, but there’s more to her mission than just making pretty, shiny objects for us to wear. Her main goal with Rejewel is to raise awareness about the plastic pollution crisis, inspire people to make some changes, and to raise funds for organizations that work to combat the problem.
Some of her favorite organizations include Debris Free Oceans, Send it 4 The Sea, and Clean This Beach Up. These are all non-profits that organize beach clean-ups, do outreach and educate the public. In addition, they work to encourage businesses to use less plastic and styrofoam, as well as perform research by monitoring marine ecosystems.
Her dream is to continue her journey as a scientist by asking questions, seeking solutions and inspiring the humans of our earth to find a way to climb out of the hole that we created.
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The Selective Sage
Blog Post Written By: Jaime Snell
Blog Post Edited By: Sharmarra Rose