We’ve been thinking a lot about the environment lately, trying to better understand our responsibilities and the actions we can personally take to protect the planet and live more lightly on it. Living lightly is a philosophy that is baked into the GAIA business model — GAIA means “Mother Earth” after all — and we’re proud of how we upcycle materials, not only because it eliminates waste but also because upcycling allows us to invest more in people than we do in materials.
GAIA is a textiles-based brand, and the majority of the fabrics we use are vintage, upcycled, or made of eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton or hemp. Most of our textiles are very limited in quantity and special in this world, so our goal is to use as much of each piece as possible. Once we make a larger item, like a pouch or handbag, we use fabric remnants and scraps in everything from earrings to necklaces to the linings of our bags. We try not to waste an inch!
For example, we incorporate remnants into our Cleo tassel necklaces. Not only does this use those extra bits of fabric that another company might toss in the trash, it also means that each necklace is a one-of-a-kind original. The same goes for our fabric-wrapped Beaded necklaces. We also use leftover fabric in our Mini Heart and Mini Kitty purses for littles. But our favorite example of how we try use literally every little centimeter of fabric: our earrings. Textile remnants are the centerpiece of each show-stopping pair!
As you may know, GAIA exists to help resettled refugee women rebuild their lives in the United States through meaningful work. We pay our artisans a living wage to craft the collection, and most of the women work from home, where they can set their own schedules and take care of their children. Our use of vintage, repurposed, and sustainable materials supports that mission, too: Not only do those types of textiles reduce our environmental footprint, they also allow us to invest more into labor. In other words, we’re putting more money in the people who make our product — which is what we at GAIA are all about!
If you’re interested in ways that you personally can impact the environment, we encourage you to check out greatist.com.