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Thursday, October 21, 2010

HOT Topics: Coral - too precious to wear?

Since I was small I have been a bit of a tree hugger. I will bring a plastic bottle home with me if there isn't a recycling bin nearby while I am out and about. I am slowly buying more and more organic and free range foods. While I have always had a passion for the environment and taking care of it, I have been learning more as I try to live an active and healthy lifestyle. I enjoy putting National Geographic documentaries in my Netflix account and will watch several back to back usually about nature, the environment, and health. In a nutshell, I become a bigger and more aware tree hugger on a daily basis.

Recently on Etsy there has been a huge uproar about a blog that was posted in the Storque Blog about Coral and because of it's endangerment, it is "too precious to wear". The blog is written by a woman named Temple St. Clair who is part of a campaign to stop the harvesting of coral for jewelery. Coral, while a beautiful creature is home to much of the ocean's living creatures, as stressed in St. Clair's article, and is endangered because of harvesting. Another aspect that St. Clair didn't mention but is important to bring up is that coral reefs are very sensitive to oceanic temperature changes, and because of global warming they are "bleaching" and dying off. As young children we learn that all living creatures are connected through a cycle of life, and this is not different when it comes to coral. With coral reefs dying off and the healthy reefs being harvested, we are taking more than just the lives of the coral but every creature that relies on the ecosystems created by the coral they live in.

While the article is well-intended, and quite frankly I am in complete agreeance with St. Clair that we need to stress the importance of not using products that are a result of harvesting endangered species, not everyone was happy with this article. Because I am generally a diplomatic person it is easy for me to see the importance in both sides' arguments, I understand why so many people are upset. Just reading through the forums, many people are outraged as seen here. In the defense of the upset sellers, they felt that the blog was implying indirectly that the sellers of coral based products on Etsy are bad. They also feel that it would lower the value of their product. I understand this, and I feel for these sellers. However, I also understand that this was not what the article was implying at all, it was simply trying to spread the awareness.

In my personal opinion I feel that the sellers should continue to sell their product - but when they run out, not to order more coral supply. Our environment is incredibly important and there are so many other alternatives for beautiful jewelery without using an endangered species. SELLERS: You are not bad people! I think it is a bit ridiculous that some are asking for their Etsy fees from coral sales to be refunded to them. And I don't feel that their product value is lowered because of this Storque article. However, I do feel that it is important that as Etsy is a "handmade nation", it is our responsibility to begin the transition into eco-friendly products. Including myself. So, in light of all this uproar, I have decided to feature some great eco-friendly shops.

Dark gray and pink tailored handbag ... ORGANIC fabrics by bymytouch

Large Polka Dot Fish Wall Art Turquoise by recycledwoodart

8 Plantable Gift Tags - Pressed Flowers - with Garden Flower Seeds - Set of 8 - Rose on White by recycledideas

So there you have it! Some amazing eco-friendly shops doing their best to help inspire and influence us toward making the right choice: buy handmade, and buy eco-smart!


  1. I wondered what all the hubbub was about. You would think these sellers they would welcome the scarcity of their produc, because it will increase their prices. If they switch to the salvaging and upcycling of coral that is already harvested, they can actually benefit (along with the living coral) from any sort of decision not to harvest more. Basic economics.

  2. I agree, basic economics. I personally feel that it is a bit ignorant that people would get so upset over something that is intended to be helpful to our environment. I am not your typical hippe/tree hugger, but I do stay constantly aware and concerned and it is upsetting to know that some are more concerned about their sales than creating the environment. There will be no sales if there is no Earth.

  3. Great article, I agree that sellers who want to continue to use coral can benefit if harvesting is slowed or stopped by using salvaged materials...and see their work's value stay the same or even increase. Found you on the Etsy forum and am now your newest follower. Hope you will visit my blog as well:

  4. Great post. I have a couple of coral necklaces on sale where the coral was bought at legitimate bead shops. I'm not going to take them off my listings, but I definitely will not be using coral in the future.