We at Orenda believe that all of us are responsible for the three facets of healthy and ethical consumption: economical, social, and environmental. We are stewards of the earth and it’s up to us to ensure that we do the best job possible in caring for all who inhabit it.
What is your packaging made from?
Our packaging is 95% post-consumer, biodegradable, recyclable material. The 5% that's not is the little bit of cotton fill that comes in our jewelry boxes to prevent tarnish and protect the piece. We're looking for a way to eliminate that, but the rest of our boxes, shipping materials, labels ect are eco-friendly!
This is a tough subject. The reality is, to date there is no ethical certification or standard for colored gemstones. There is limited certification for diamonds - known at the Kimberly Accord - but that certification only applies to rough material (uncut diamond) and not to individual finished stones. Add in the complications of a long "chain of custody" or the dozens of people who may buy and resell the stone, and you quickly realize that everything "ethical" on paper is sworn on a pinky promise and nothing more.
There are a few things we’re doing to mitigate this risk. We currently avoid stones like emerald, tanzanite, jade, coral, and lapis lazuli that regularly fund organized crime or cost an increased environmental toll. We can also provide “recycled” stones that have been recut and reused. There’s also the option to buy stones mined and cut within the USA which reduces energy usage.
Finally, there’s always the option of purchasing a cultured or lab-grown version of the stone you’re looking for. These stones are chemically and structurally the same thing as what you’d mine from the earth but are instead made in laboratories. They have the benefit of being more environmentally friendly, but also cost many communities in developing countries the opportunity to profit from their natural resources - instead compounding wealth in the hands of a few wealthy corporations.
Overall, we realize that there are a lot of challenges in finding the right ethical option. Don't be afraid to tell us about your concerns and we will find a stone and a solution that fits your life and your ethos.
Why don't you carry white sage?
Most of the white sage used in producing smoke cleansing (also known as "smudging") sticks comes from California. Unfortunately, the commercial over-harvesting of wild white sage has presented a major problem to California’s ecosystem. The state’s susceptibility to drought, wildfires, and developments built in areas where native sage grows means that the California white sage (Salvia apiana) population has dropped dramatically. Add in the further decimation by large companies who wish to profit from the sale of smoke cleaning or "smudging" sticks, and you can understand why we are no longer carrying this product.
We are working towards finding a reputable native-owned white sage farm in the near future. Until then, it is our goal to educate people on the dangers of over-harvesting wild white sage and suggest lovely alternatives like yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum), palo santo (Bursera graveolens), or cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum). It's incredibly important to remain aware of the challenges presented by our own consumption and hopefully, adjust accordingly so that our planet and its inhabitants remain healthy.