I came across effective altruism in September as I was deciding what to write my dissertation about. In the end, I plucked for ‘Can it be proved that art encourages altruism’ (I concluded it could but in a somewhat unreliable way, you can read the dissertation here) and I used effective altruism, or EA from here on in, as the philosophical backdrop for my piece.
Heavily influenced by the work of Peter Singer, an Australian moral philosopher, there’s loads of good info here, if like me you’re not a great reader, these videos on YouTube give a good backdrop and if your super keen you can go to one of their regular meetups, which I can recommend.
There’s a lot of debate within the jewellery industry as to what constitutes the most ‘ethical’ metals to use, and what exactly qualifies as ‘ethical jewellery’. My opinion is that either Fairmined or Fairtrade metals (both of which we use and advocate for) are the best, by far, with recycled metals being only a slight improvement on mined and untraceable metals. Sadly, the term recycled is being used cynically, to lazily green wash a whole slew of questionable businesses and products and that those who use is genuinely don’t realize how little it does to change the really damaging issues that the jewellery industry is responsible for.
However the inescapable conclusion from engaging with effective altruism is that non of these initiatives, Fairmined, Fairtrade or 100% recycled metals actually do any good when you compare the benefits that would be achieved by buying a non fairtrade gold ring and then donating the money to an effective cause.
Going one step further, you be doing almost infinitely more good by not buying a ring at all and donating the money you save to an effective cause.
This is where I come in.
The positive effect of you donating the money you would spend on a pair of wedding rings, the average current UK spend being around £600 a pair *, is so great that I’d like to encourage anyone getting married to do so and I will make them a pair of custom rings, from silver, and deliver them in a presentation box, for free, provided a donation of £300 is made to anyone of the charities listed here is made.
If this appeals to you, then please drop me a line with proof of the donation, your ring sizes and your address and I will get the rings to you within 4 weeks. It would be nice if you could post pictures of the rings on social media, mentioning us and how much you love the rings (if you do of course)
Effective altruism and the ethics of the jewellery industry are both huge, complicated issues that I’m hoping to start a discussion about with this offer and this post. The issues are inescapably intertwined and I would be interested to hear from people on all sides in the comments section.
*We have worked this out independently based on figures from the consumer price index for July 2018, which can be found here https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/datasets/consumerpriceindicescpiandretailpricesindexrpiitemindicesandpricequotes. We have averaged all of the entries made for ‘solid 9ct gold ring’.