Nowa is an initiative that wants to change the world and our perception of value and waste. By collecting and ‘’harvesting’’ gold from old mobile phones and creating a lovely jewelry collection. Here is their story:
Some weeks ago, I noted an item on the news about a small Dutch brand that created jewelry out of old mobile phones. Intrigued, I contacted them to find out more. They are currently running a Kickstarter project that you can find here: Time is running out, so make sure to act swiftly! A project like this takes an enormous amount of time and passion. Passion not just for jewelry, in this case, the jewelry may just be the tool, but a passion for a better world. E-waste isn’t a very sexy problem that gets attention everywhere but jewelry created with the gold out of waste is. So these women, Josette and Joyce, had found the right tool in jewelry to get their message across.
Josette tells us that Nowa stands for No Waste and it’s actually the first jewelry collection ever, made from gold and silver, collected from old mobile phones. These old mobiles are collected by Closing the Loop in Africa. They make sure that these mobile phones are recycled in a responsible and sustainable way.
E-waste is one of the fastest growing sources of waste in the world, created by electronic devices and gadgets we no longer use. Joyce and Josette used to work at Closing the Loop, an initiative born out of a longing for solving this waste problem. Why haven’t we heard more about this project? Josette explains: ‘’it’s kind of a difficult, complicated matter and many people don’t relate to the problem. How could we make people care more? We came up with the idea of showing there is value in waste’’. A more tangible, curious approach for sure.
What is your vision for the company in say; 1-2 years time?
‘’We envision a world where everyone sees the importance of recycling e-waste, hands in their old mobile phones, and where all mobile phones are reused or recycled in a sustainable way’’
''What we dream about? What if in 1-2 years from now we’ll have launched several jewelry lines with different designers and brands? Because of our cooperation with Closing the Loop, we can provide gold and silver directly from waste mobile phones. That's why we have a unique position. Brands who want to launch sustainable and circular jewelry can also work with us! For every piece of jewelry that we sell, Closing the Loop will collect and recycle five waste phones from Africa. So our goal is the reduction of e-waste worldwide.
In the future, we would love to become material-neutral. We would love to collect as many old mobile phones as pieces of jewelry we sell. Perhaps we can think about a discount system of some sort.
Are there other initiatives in the world that you know of, that have used the circular or re-purposed use of gold or silver out of consumer goods and turned them into jewelry?
It’s not that there is no use of recycled gold in the Netherlands for example, but we feel that the whole gold industry is super non-transparant. It’s hard to know where gold comes from and recycled gold is just as expensive as ‘’new’’ gold. Fairtrade gold is even more expensive.
Nikkie Reed from Dell has created a jewelry line from gold she collected out of old computers. We applaud this and would love to see more people engaging in this way of thinking and creating. We hope that with our Kickstarter program we will have money to do more marketing initiatives. We need to get attention and spread the word.
You have turned it into jewelry, but this wasn't your first choice (perhaps) would you explain how you ended up creating jewelry after all?
Well, jewelry is by far the best tool to make people think about the resources and where they come from. Jewelry always tells a story and people love to talk about it. Becoming more conscious about the value in our waste and of waste is our goal. So we felt jewelry was the perfect tool to get that message across.
Would you see yourselves developing a whole collection with your designer in the future, or is this not a goal at all?
The first jewelry line we launch after our Kickstarter campaign is with designer Mickey Philips. Together we’ve created a modular piece of jewelry. You can wear it in several ways: the brooch and earrings are easily transformable into a necklace or bracelet. You can mix and match in endless ways.
In the future, we will launch jewelry lines with different designers and brands.
Who do you think would love to buy this kind of jewelry?
‘’Our types of buyers will be female frontrunners, conscious- and convenience buyers, starting from 21 years old’’
International readers, who are intrigued by your story; can they order your jewelry online too?
Yes, please do :) We're an international brand. We’ve already got orders from all over the world!
Should another country show interest, would you be willing to talk to other companies to expand the idea or business?
Why should people buy this particular piece of jewelry?
Because it is beautiful and you can contribute to less e-waste worldwide.
First of all, it is admirable. And I know you’ll agree with me, that this is a fantastic project! I can only imagine how committed one must be in order to get this project even started. The jewelry looks nice and I am sure that it’ll find its way to the public. Why? Because here is a beautiful case of perfect story and meaning.
So many Millennials minded people look for significance, meaning, a value in experience. We love to hear a story behind a piece of jewelry. Now, many stories start with; a love for nature, or ‘’ as a child, I already loved to draw jewelry’’ but this is a different kind of story. One that takes jewelry as a tool to communicate to the world about a problem that concerns us all. Also, we might not even be conscious of what we have in our drawers at home. I have at least 4-5 old mobiles that I don’t throw away, yet they just sit there.
Therefore, take a look, read the story, see if it resonates with you? Maybe buy it as a gift to someone you know would love this story? Maybe for yourself, for the beauty of the product, the message and the world!
JOSETTE & JOYCE: ''We call our unique Kickstarter collection Eternal Connection.
‘Eternal’ because if only we’d recycle more, we could use resources like gold and silver for eternity. ‘Connection’ refers to the connection we have with each other and the earth. We have created three unique pieces of jewelry made from recycled mobile phones. A bracelet, a necklace with a small Eternal Connection design (for those minimalistic jewelry lovers) and a necklace with a bigger Eternal Connection design (for those of you who love some bling!)''