Lily Cole with ethical jewellery from recycled electricals

Lily Cole with jewellery by Lylie's

The environmentalist and model pours her heart and soul into sustainability.

Photography by Patricia Imbarus, 2020

Lily Cole revealed that she decided to back the Recycle Your Electricals Five Gold Rings campaign after learning how much electrical waste is created every year – and after some inspiring conversations with Sir David Attenborough.

The Five Gold Rings campaign shows how tiny amounts of precious metals in millions of old electricals can be salvaged and turned into valuable new products – including ethical jewellery.

As part of the campaign, British sustainable jeweller Lylie’s hand-crafted five rings from gold and silver salvaged from old electrical items. 

Why Lily supports the campaign

Lily supports brands who are making a difference and reusing waste – she even has her own book and podcast Who Cares Wins to talk about sustainability.

Speaking about the campaign, Lily said: “When researching my book Who Cares Wins, I was horrified by the amount of electronic waste that is produced every year, and how little of it is recycled.”

“Yet electronic waste is unique in that it is highly valuable: e-waste often contains precious metals and finite materials, which can be transformed and reused.”

Research commissioned by Recycle Your Electricals suggests that 95 tonnes of precious metals including gold, silver and palladium – equivalent to £857 million – could be recycled from unwanted electricals each year in the UK alone.

Lily was also moved to speak out after interviewing the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. 

“Both times I interviewed David Attenborough and asked him what individuals can do to improve their impact on the planet, his response was insistent and simple: ‘Stop waste’.” 

“Waste is not just literal – plastic in oceans, precious metals in trash, food releasing methane in landfill – it is also cultural and psychological.”

“Our attitude to waste reflects how we view and value the material world around us, and the creativity we can apply to transforming ‘waste’ into new possibilities. Nature does not do waste! For nature, waste equals food.” 

“So when Material Focus reached out to me with their campaign to give away rings made from recycled e-waste, I thought it was a beautiful initiative to demonstrate the value in objects we might consider ‘waste’.”

Electricals spending spree

The Five Gold Rings campaign was launched in December 2020 as thousands of couples across the UK prepared to get engaged.

The pre-Christmas period also heralds a spending spree on consumer goods: more than 50 million electrical items were expected to be bought in the five weeks from 23 November to 24 December 2020. 

More than 900,000 people in the UK were planning to pop the question to a partner during the 2020 festive season, according to a survey by Material Focus.

The Five Gold Rings campaign aimed to show the potential of electrical recycling and how old electricals can be transformed into practical items like defibrillators and beautiful items like ethical jewellery.

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