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Building the Bioeconomy

Sustainable Business and Bio-Based Solutions with Nikki Reed

Nikki Reed
Nikki Reed
Photo courtesy of Joe Perri.

There’s a lot to consider when working toward a bio-based and sustainable lifestyle, but some activists — like actress Nikki Reed — are here to help. While perhaps most well-known for her role in the Twilight franchise, Reed is also an environmental activist and has been cultivating an eco-friendly lifestyle. Mediaplanet asked her about sustainable living and sustainable businesses.

What sparked your desire to become an environmentalist?

I feel like everything is connected. Through curiosity and compassion I found my love of animals turning into love for the Earth, and finding solutions for living with less waste became a natural next step. I’ve always loved animals. I started rescuing and fostering when I was little, and it never stopped. My mom has a huge heart and she always allowed us to bring home, feed, and rehabilitate any animal that needed a home.

As I got older, I started connecting the dots between animal welfare and environmental degradation, and I continue to devote my life to learning better ways to be a human.

What have you and your family been doing to live a sustainable lifestyle at home during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We cook at home, minimize waste, and take the time to recycle every day. In terms of daily routine, it’s nice to slow down and not be moving around so much, because I think slowing down inevitably gives us the space to make even better choices without the shortcuts. Shortcuts are the opposite of sustainable living. The truth is, you have to make the extra effort.

Also, in many ways, this pandemic has allowed a much-needed reconnect with nature for many families. I’m seeing more people take road trips, start gardens, go on nature walks, and cook meals together at home. If there’s one silver lining to this pandemic, I think that the planet’s now resting and rejuvenating for a moment and families are spending more time together in nature.

Tell us about your socially-conscious lifestyle company, BaYou with Love. What makes the engagement rings you create sustainable?

BaYou With Love rings by Nikki Reed
Photo courtesy of Nikki Reed.

Our engagement rings are made with recycled gold from technology, which started through our partnership with Dell. Believe it or not, most of the technology that ends up in landfills has tiny amounts of gold in it along with other materials that can be repurposed. In the U.S., over $60 million of gold is thrown away each year in cell phones.

We take the gold that’s found in recycled technology and turn it into fine jewellery. I love the idea of taking waste and turning it into a treasure, and gold was the perfect material to use because refined tech gold is the same as newly-mined gold but without the environmental toll of mining. It gives people the chance to hold, feel, and hopefully fall in love with a recycled product, which could inspire them to make eco-conscious decisions in other areas as well through their newfound connection to sustainability.

How else are the pieces created by BaYou with Love sustainable?

BaYou With Love conflict-free diamonds by Nikki Reed
Photo courtesy of Nikki Reed.

We offer our customers the option to purchase their rings with a certified conflict-free traditionally-mined diamond or a cultivated diamond that was grown in California with solar energy. A cultivated diamond is a diamond grown from a tiny diamond seed. They’re molecularly identical to diamonds, but again without the environmental toll of mining.

We also produce our bridal pieces along with most of our jewelry in Los Angeles, so by choosing a grown diamond, you’re reducing your carbon footprint since almost everything in our bridal line happens locally. 

Why is it important to reuse resources?

We have a finite amount of resources on this planet and the fashion industry is one of the most destructive industries in the world. At the rate we’re moving, we’ll destroy our planet — and our future — if we continue. If we don’t start to get creative by using innovation and design to steer people toward reusables, we’re screwed. 

Fast fashion is one of the most harmful industries, and we have to retrain ourselves to gravitate toward products with a story — one that reflects ethical labour and Earth-friendly production.  

What advice do you have for business owners who want to sustainably and ethically run their businesses?

Starting and operating a sustainable business definitely comes with its challenges. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been presented with an “easier avenue,” but those shortcuts don’t reflect my morals or the morals of the company. I truly believe if you educate your customer on sustainable production, they’ll support and accommodate those small “inconveniences” like waiting for a piece to be made.

For example, many of our pieces are made to order because sustainable production also means slow fashion and less production. We don’t want to produce pieces that might not sell, so oftentimes we produce in small batches and tailor the piece to the client’s desired size or gemstone preference.

We also educate our customers on the cost and importance of buying less but buying better as opposed to buying more and trashing it shortly after. I love working with gold because it’s an heirloom, a treasure, and people pass it down through families for generations. 

How can the bioeconomy help us find sustainable and bio-based solutions for the future?

I think sustainable solutions need to be presented in a way that people find digestible and accessible. There’s so much regeneration that needs to happen in order to get back to a place of true harmony, and it can be overwhelming for anybody. The concept of the bioeconomy can help give us actionable and solution-based approaches.

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