When it comes to following a vegan lifestyle, many people will immediately associate it with food. However, you need to take far more into consideration than that. Vegan clothing, vegan beauty and vegan household products are all now readily available on the market, enabling you to live a vegan ethos in all areas of your life. One of the most commonly misunderstood products that people find when it comes to being a vegan is alcohol. Read on and find out everything you need to know, with our vegan booze guide.
While most people who buy diamonds do so with good intentions, what they do not know is that they might be indirectly supporting crime, violence, and the economic and environmental devastation in the countries where these diamonds are mined. This is what makes lab-grown diamonds the superior alternative both financially and morally. This article will discuss the destructive effects of mined diamonds and why a buyer with a social conscience needs to consider lab-grown diamonds.
The Many Effects of Mining Diamonds
Children are considered a cheap source of labour in some impoverished countries and
are readily exploited. Due to this, kids form a significant part of the mining workforce. A survey done in Angola’s Lunda Norte province on diamond miners revealed that up to 46 percent of the labour force consisted of kids aged between 5-16. Life for children trapped in those mines is something most of us will never experience. These children work entire days, seven days a week. With their still relatively weak bodies, they are more prone to getting injured during accidents. Nonetheless, they are still required to take on hard tasks such as digging using heavy shovels and carrying dirt on their backs. To take advantage of their small stature, they are often asked to enter narrow shafts or pits where the risk of a landslide is always looming. Most of these kids do not attend school. As such, they are condemned to remain miners for the rest of their lives.
Even though a significant percentage of the world’s diamonds are derived from simple mining techniques such as digging or panning, the wages that these miners are paid do not remotely reflect the work that they put in. In fact, it is estimated that over one million diamond miners in Africa take home less than a dollar per day. Subsequently, most of these individuals lack access to basic necessities such as clean water and sanitation. Hunger, high mortality rate, and illiteracy are the norms.
So, how can it be that diamond mining communities are among the most impoverished? In this region of the world, diamond mining is largely an unregulated venture. Minimum wage laws and labour standards are foreign terms. In a bid to make as much profit as possible, employers cut down on as many costs as possible, including the miners’ wages.
It is also worth noting that a lot of the employers at these small-scale diamond mines do not have access to global markets. Thus, after exploiting their workers to get the ‘blood diamonds,’ they themselves must find a middleman who has access to the global market. These middlemen buy the diamonds at extremely low prices so that they can make a killing when they get to the West. It is a never-ending loop that leaves the actual guys on the ground living in abject poverty and misery.
Apart from being severely underpaid, diamond miners work in hazardous conditions. In addition, they typically conduct their trade without the proper training, expertise or equipment. As such, accidents in the mines are commonplace with the risk of the mine collapsing or a landslide occurring always looming.
Additionally, the pits created during the mining process often cause public health problems. Apart from environmental effects such as soil erosion, when these pits fill with stagnant rainwater, they also become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, thereby causing perpetual malaria outbreaks.
Moreover, diamond mining causes the mushrooming of small mining towns. The sex trade runs rampant in these towns and, due to the lack of literacy, most of it is unprotected sex, which exacerbates the spread of sexually transmitted infections.
Even though the governments of these mining nations usually earn handsome revenues from the industry through both profit-sharing agreements and taxation, they rarely re-invest that money back into the community. Thus, while these governments earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year, the conditions surrounding the mining villages are horrendous. Health centres, water supply systems, and schools are virtually non-existent.
The reasons behind these travesties include but are not limited to corruption, weak political systems, and incompetence. Because money is being realized by the local governments, it only ends up lining the pockets of the higher-ups without any consideration to economic development.
While diamond mining might have a less destructive impact on the environment as compared to mining for gold, it still does have negative effects that need to be addressed. These negative impacts can be readily avoided if mining companies heed set regulations. Unfortunately, from the viewpoint of companies out to make a profit, these regulations cause ‘unnecessary costs,’ so the quick-fix solution is usually to abandon the regulations altogether, endangering the environment in the process.
Diamond mining is one of the leading contributors to soil erosion in mining areas. This sets off a chain reaction where agriculture is no longer feasible due to the nutrients found in the topsoil being washed away. People who were depending on agriculture for sustenance are left with no other option apart from mining or turning to crime. In addition to soil erosion, mining also causes these areas to become more susceptible to flooding and other hazards. Mining also contributes to deforestation, which eventually causes changes to the area’s climate.
Considering the effects above, it is clear that the diamond trade involving mined diamonds causes more harm than it is worth. An important thing to note is that diamonds are, in fact, not rare. Their ‘rarity’ is an artificial creation by the capitalists who sought to monopolize the diamond market. You might ask how diamonds came to be so valuable? De Beers, the leading diamond distributor in the world, monopolized the market by buying all diamond deposits so that they could control the price of diamonds. By limiting the number of diamonds making it into the market, the price of the stone is bound to go up.
So, what’s the solution? If you’re in the market for a diamond, consider lab-grown diamonds, as they manage to avoid some of the problems associated with mined diamonds.
What Are Lab-Grown Diamonds?
Also referred to as cultured diamonds, these are artificial diamonds that look just as exquisite as natural diamonds, but with a price tag that can be 30-40 percent cheaper. In fact, there’s no difference between synthetic diamonds and mined diamonds as they have the exact carbon structure. Not even the most skilled jeweler can differentiate between the two. And the coolest part, is that these lab-created diamonds avoid all these issues that come from mined diamonds.
Diamond-growing labs create artificial environments that mimic the natural growing environment of a diamond – high pressure and high temperature. Because the laws of thermodynamics hold true regardless of the environment, the produced diamonds have the same physical and chemical composition, optical properties, and crystal structure as diamonds found in nature. Thus, they offer you the same sparkle, brilliance, scintillation, and fire. In fact, the Gemmological Institute of America uses the same standards to grade both mined and synthetic diamonds.
Why Should You Purchase Lab-Grown Diamonds?
1. Blood and Environmental Degradation Is Too Big of a Price
Lab-grown diamonds are of the same—and in some cases superior—caliber as mined diamonds. Ask yourself if you want to spend your hard-earned cash on conglomerates set on monopolizing the industry. You’ll not only be spending top dollar on billionaires, but that money will also not reach the people giving their sweat and blood for your diamond.
Moreover, our current mission is going green. Diamond mining destroys large tracts of lands just for a handful of diamonds. Soil erosion and deforestation are the immediate effects of mining. This, in turn, results in infertile land and rains ceasing in that location. Is it really worth it?
2. Cultured Diamonds Are Cheaper
Lab-grown diamonds can be up to 40 percent less expensive than a mined diamond of similar quality. If you had set aside a budget for a diamond, choosing a lab-grown diamond means that you will get a much bigger and better-quality diamond than if you had chosen a mined diamond. For instance, for approximately the same price for a 1.5-carat solitaire engagement ring, you are likely to get a 2.5-carat cultured diamond of the same quality.
3. Supporting Sustainability
When you buy lab-grown diamonds, you will be directly promoting research and development in cutting-edge tech in categories such as:
- Material sciences
- Renewable energy
These efforts are direct investments in the future of humanity.
The Bottom Line
Diamonds are today’s ultimate show of affection for those you love. They show that you would literally move the earth for them, but at what expense? Mined diamonds are tainted with violence as well as economic and environmental devastation. Lab-grown diamonds avoid some of these problems by not creating them in the first place. If you live a conscious lifestyle, it should be rather easy to look for alternatives to mined diamonds for the good of the environment and the people of these mining operations.
When it comes to the food you eat each day, your physical activity and the nutrients you put in your body don’t just influence your physique—they also have a direct impact on your brain.
A healthy lifestyle is essential to increasing your lifespan and improving cognitive function as your age. If you’re looking to boost your brain power, there are a few ways that a healthy lifestyle can help your brain function better.
Improve Your Thinking
Regular physical exercise is proven to improve your thinking by increasing the number of blood vessels in the body. New nerve cells also develop when you use your muscles, which creates more connections between brain cells and causes the brain to have more clarity as it recognizes patterns or solves problems. Staying physically active can even improve cholesterol levels and reduce mental stress.
Protect the Brain
Eating a clean diet can protect your brain from diseases and ailments that can develop as you age. Sticking to a diet that includes whole grains, nuts, olives, and leafy greens can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and increase cognitive function and memory.
Consume whole foods that are nutrient-dense to reap the benefits over time and stay mentally sharp. It’s also important to limit your consumption of red meat, which is linked to degenerative diseases like heart disease.
Boost Cognitive Function
Practicing a healthy lifestyle includes getting quality sleep each night. Experts suggest that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to think clearly and maintain their focus. Sleeping allows the brain to remain sharp and process information quickly, which ensures that you increase your productivity and feel younger than your age.
Improve Concentration and Memory
Meditation is also an essential part of practicing a healthy lifestyle that can allow the mind to rest. Studies show that it improves concentration and memory, which can lead to improved thinking over time. Information can process faster and more efficiently if you set aside a few minutes each day to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. It also makes it easier to learn from each experience and boost general intelligence.
Practicing a healthy lifestyle is vital to increasing the function of the brain, allowing it to remain sharp long term. By practicing a few habits and eating more brain food, you can make strides that allow you to remain youthful with how you think and process information each day.
When people think of a vegan lifestyle, they often get hung up on the idea that vegans are people who eat some kind of plant-based diet. Rarely do people move beyond what vegans eat to understand more completely what a vegan lifestyle is actually all about. It turns out vegans have a rich culture oriented around the environment and the ethical treatment of animals. The following are a few issues that are central to a vegan lifestyle.
The Lives of Animals Matter
Since vegans believe in the ethical treatment of animals, it only stands to reason that they want to promote the lives of animal species and thriving ecosystems rather than being a party to the downfall of these fundamental aspects of the natural world. By upholding the belief that other animal life forms are important to our planet, many vegans will refuse to wear clothing or footwear composed of animal products such as fur and leather.
Maintaining the Global Environment
Vegans take a special interest in ensuring that our planet maintains a life-sustaining environment suitable for all living creatures, not just themselves. This is approached from a number of different angles. One area of concern is in conserving natural resources. For this reason, many vegans believe in recycling in order to protect animals and the environment. And with the new, rapid growth in technology and ecommerce, more and more companies are using plastic for their products and packaging. Because of this, vegans often look to more sustainable brands to support using recycled products that are better for the environment. Many people who follow a vegan lifestyle also take other actions to conserve natural habitats that are threatened by overpopulation and overdevelopment.
Opposing GMO Research
When scientists push to create genetically modified organisms (GMO), this deeply concerns vegans. A major reason for this concern arises from the fact that scientists do not necessarily know how GMO plants and animals will affect ecosystems and the global food supply. While the technique of genetically modifying organisms has been well-researched and perfected over time, this by no means ensures that the long-term results of introducing GMO plants and animals will be beneficial to the planet or our species.
When it comes to vegans, it is important to understand that the vegan diet is only one aspect of what it means to be a vegan. It’s also important to note that eating a vegan diet does not mean that a person necessarily lives the broader vegan lifestyle or adheres to the underlying vegan philosophy. However, many strict vegans exist, and they harbor a deep interest in the state of the planet and how its inhabitants are getting along in response to a variety of highly questionable human activities.
In recent years there has been a backlash against the traditional business practices of outsourcing manufacturing to the cheapest bidder heedless of their ethics. In the wake of several industrial disasters, boardrooms and their consumers alike are searching for more ethical, responsible, and socially aware sourcing methods. In today’s world, ethical sourcing has become an advantage all on its own as companies who source responsibly take business from those caught in sub-standard practices. Here are five tips to help your sourcing practices.
Factor in the Environment
Many major companies, especially in the controversial fashion industry, have been altering their supply chain to benefit the environment and keep our planet healthy. Companies such as People Tree have also gained popularity for their efforts in the industry as they’ve worked to produce ethical and eco fashion collections. They’ve received increased profits and publicity from their decision. Once you’ve audited and found the sources with the smallest environmental impact, make the change. Any loss in profits will be compensated by the positive publicity from your transparent decisions.
Utilize Available Information
Always perform a first-pass risk assessment of all your sourcing companies. All the data you need to paint a picture of their ethical practices is available from risk management and business assessment companies. For your own investigations, most company data is available on the web via their website or ethics watchdog sights. This assessment will include checking on the ethics of their practices, searching for company executives who are politically exposed and vulnerable to bribes, and any history of sanctions by government entities.
Do some good in the world. Many corporations engage in charitable work with profits from their production, earning them excellent publicity, customer/employee loyalty, and providing help to those who need it. doTERRA, for example, boasts of 3 priorities when making decisions about product and materials sourcing: ensuring sustainability of resources, truth in marketing, and giving back. Therefore, you might be interested in selecting an area along your production cycle where charity is needed and open a fund.
Establish a Transparent Relationship
Lay out the expectations of your partnership with your sources right from the get-go, and put those expectations into practice at every interaction. Practice transparency with your suppliers. Instill the knowledge that you may audit their businesses unannounced. Employ more active methods of compliance than the basic tick-box paperwork, including site visits if needed. Also, consider using social media to solicit information from their employees.
Establish an Internal Culture
To maintain a clean slate, your company must practice what it preaches. Institute random internal audits to keep your directors honest. And in the age of information, an anonymous means of your floor employees to express their grievances is a critical feature.
Overall, it has been shown that ethics in business and business practices such as sourcing and sustainability is a great investment into a healthy consumer and company relationship. Having control over your company’s effect on the environment and limited resources demonstrates a greater interest in the future. For more information about sustainability or company examples of sustainability, check out our blog!
Business ethics is no longer a compliance issue; it has become the epitome of business competitiveness. Recent studies show that ethical sourcing plays a prominent role in the following business strategies.
- Competitive edge strategies
- Customer retention
- Brand marketing
The three items play an integral role in doing business globally. Cutthroat business competition leaves major global brands out of options. Price competition is no longer sustainable. Modern companies have only one option; they have to embrace ethical standards. The rewards are noticeable. Research shows that customers are willing to pay an extra buck for an ethically produced product.
The Legal Framework
Profits drive businesses. Compliance with any regulatory framework is a cost that most companies prefer not to undergo. So, most of them cut corners. They shift operations to jurisdictions such as Indonesia, Cambodia, China and India that are not strict when it comes to human rights abuses. It is fair to say that statutes and guidelines have not been effective because they are not enforced with the same zeal globally.
Corporate Social Responsibility
With CSR, companies have shown an improved concern about sustainability standards, which has seen improved fortunes in ethical sourcing as a key driver. However, it has not enforced the belief that only things that translate to the bottom-line positively ought to get company approvals. At first, companies just decorated their CSR efforts with beautiful language while letting issues of child labor, slave-like working conditions, poor pay, wanton disregard of the safety of workers, pollution, and environmental neglect flourish.
At this global awareness and dispensation, the customer is aware of sourcing challenges. They are global citizens ready to condemn the abuse of fellow human beings. The information age comes with increased customer awareness. At this stage, it is becoming a battleground for players to endear their brands to the customer. The customer of today is also considered experience-centric. Brands that promote sustainable lifestyles are gaining global attention, which poses challenges to their competitors.
Companies Succeeding in Ethical Sourcing
Starbucks’ CAFE ethical guidelines include a system for verifying and auditing the supply network. They explain, “Helping people thrive helps ensure the long-term sustainability of the premium products we provide. Whether it’s arabica coffee, tea, cocoa or manufactured goods, we’re committed to offering ethically purchased and responsibly produced sustainable products of the highest quality.” It’s mutually beneficial to make sure a company’s sources are cared for.
The company has a clear guideline for sourcing raw materials including human rights compliance. H&M claims, “our products are made by independent suppliers, often in developing countries. It would be impossible for us to operate if we did not take responsibility for the people working for our suppliers. Everyone should be treated with respect and the suppliers should offer their workers fair wages and good working conditions.” As one of the largest clothing retailers in the world, it’s powerful to see them trying to set a good example.
The company uses networks of advocates to sell wellness solutions to customers. doTERRA’s ethical business practices have a global imperative in that they promote sourcing and distribution ethics. Additionally, doTERRA “seeks to reduce poverty through generating ethically responsible employment in essential oil production.”
Mark & Spencer
All their suppliers are subjected to a sustainability impact study. Those that don’t are disqualified. They also detail “Plan A” with their objectives for obtaining sustainability. They claim, “We’re committed to helping to build a sustainable future by being a business that enables our customers to have a positive impact on well-being, communities and the planet, through all that we do.”
It is committing to a full ethical sourcing disclosure for all its suppliers. Additionally, Adidas “is a step ahead of many other big sportswear brands when it comes to sustainability. They have committed to setting context-based targets, a recent thought process in sustainability that recognizes that water impacts are local and prioritizes focusing efforts in water-stressed basins.” With many countries abusing and polluting the water of their local plants and factories, it’s nice to see Adidas is working to prevent water abuse wherever they’re based.
Ethical sourcing is gaining attention and for a good reason. It is set to improve how modern companies operate. If you’re interested in making efforts to learn more about an ethical and sustainable way of living, check out our blog!
Everyone loves the feel of fluffy soft towels that have just come out of the dryer right? What if I told you that the lovely softness you’re rubbing on your body comes from animal fat? Gross!
Ditch the animal products and make an easy, cheap, toxin-free fabric softener yourself.
Essential oils have long been valued for their powerful therapeutic and beneficial properties and we use them throughout our daily lives. They are now more widely available than ever before, both locally and online. As a conscientious consumer, how do you go about finding quality essential oils? Once you learn to filter through the attractive marketing and know which questions to ask, it’s not hard.
It’s more important than ever for the human race to change their habits to help save the environment. We use too much of almost every natural resource available to us which includes water, gas, fossil fuels and even harmless animals. Here are some lifestyle changes anyone can and should make if they want to work towards living a more eco-friendly life.
Many people dream of being able to live simpler and being able to sustain themselves through the resources provided by the Earth. However, with technology advancing enough to take over our lives and everyone in a mad rush to get to their destinations, being able to “live off the land” is far into the past. Or is it?
Living a healthy lifestyle is essential for those who want to grow strong and live long and fruitful lives. Unfortunately, with all of the additives and chemicals in our foods, it can be downright impossible to get fit and healthy without making a change. There are real benefits to becoming vegan that many people just do not know about. While the vast majority of vegans become that way because of their commitment to animal welfare, living a vegan lifestyle is much healthier because it incorporates a range of different foods and ingredients that you can’t get from a modern Western diet.