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The Green Life: Green Fashion Monday: The Leakeys' African Jewelry

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June 20, 2011

Green Fashion Monday: The Leakeys' African Jewelry

Leakey Collection necklaces On Fashion Monday, we highlight a hip, green fashion item. Got a stylish eco-friendly product to recommend? Tell us about it and look for it in an upcoming blog post.

Jewelry exists to makes an aesthetic statement. But it can make an ethical statement too. That idea drove Katy and Philip Leakey (yes, of that prolific anthropology family) to start the Leakey Collection.

In 2001, the Leakeys, who live in Kenya, found themselves supporting 100 Masai families during a severe drought. Realizing it wasn't a sustainable arrangement, the pair devised a way to make attractive accessories out of the region's renewable resources — mainly tall grass and fallen trees — then taught local women how to do it.

Their decade-old business is thriving, due in part to the colorful beauty and versatility of their products, but also because people feel good about buying from a company that prioritizes purpose: The women who hand-craft the bright, mix-and-matchable Zulugrass strands are paid fair wages, and 5% of profits go toward supporting the Rift Valley’s infrastructure.

Which, if you believe ethics have anything to do with your purchasing power, means that you may end up wearing the Leakeys' down-to-earth goods with more pride than any ill-gotten diamonds or gold.

--Avital Binshtock

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