According to a recent report, the UK is facing a plastic waste crisis. Only last year, 11 million tons of plastic containers were used in the country. To improve this situation, new ways of reducing, reusing and recycling single-use plastics are required. YagoEco aims to increase public awareness by providing unique and eco-friendly handmade jewellery from single-use carrier bags collected from the local community.
Jagoda Jay Keshani, the founder of YagoEco, comes from a scientic background but making jewellery has always been her hobby. She used to work with leather but after becoming vegan, she started to research new more eco-friendly materials. “I went for a run one day and saw a carrier bag flying in the air. I had a flashback from a YouTube video I saw of someone ironing a carrier bag to create a multiple use one. I became curious and excited. I went home and started researching the idea”. It took six months of work form this first thought to a sellable product. “I came across a fantastic online community called “precious plastic” where I learned a lot about different plastic types, melting temperatures and homemade methods for recycling. It’s a great place to start if you are interested.”
How does a plastic bag become a piece of jewellery?
The carrier bags are collected from the local community. At the moment, Jay relies on family and friends, but she hopes that, once the production grows, she is able to organise an ongoing exchange program for everyone who would like to swap their unwanted plastic bags for a piece of jewellery. Once the bags get into Jay’s hand, she washes and cuts them into little pieces and mixes them to achieve the desired colour. They melt into plastic sheets and are cut and polished by hand. Once the process is completed, she adds locally sourced sterling silver. All the YagoEco packaging is also made from recycled materials. “It was very important to me to create the product using as many recycled materials as possible.I am currently looking into using recycled silver as well.”
YagoEco designs are minimalistic, simple and elegant. There are only four generic shapes used in the current collection. “I have a scientific mind that loves simple and organised lines. I am inspired by industrial designs, modern architecture and the minimalistic lifestyle. My heart, however, expresses my artistic side. I get really excited about combining the bags to create an unforgettable mosaic of colours and patterns. The final results are always a bit unpredictable though. It is impossible to make two pieces that are exactly the same, even earrings in one pair are always different and only matched by the proportion of their colours. I can guarantee that my customers will never see anyone wearing precisely the same necklace or bracelet. I love that I can offer something that people can consider unique in the world of mass production”.
How to use jewellery to change the world?
Every new habit needs a trigger - something to remind us when we should perform the desired action before our neural network creates a strong connection. Jay uses her earrings to help her create positive new habits in her life. “It is important to start changing the world from yourself. When I put on my earrings in the morning, I mentally go through my checklist for the day. Do I have my refillable water bottle with me? How about my fabric shopping bag? Have I packed my lunch in a reusable container with multi-use cutlery? Those little actions reduce my singe plastic footprint and make me feel better at the beginning of each day.” As a mother of two young children, Jay is very concise about the environment her children will live in the future. “I have to admit that I was a bit of an ignorant about the environmental issues before I had my children. However, after becoming a mother I looked at the problem from a different angle. I feel responsible for the place they will live in when they grow up. I want to be able to tell them I have done my best”.
Where to find YagoEco jewellery?
YagoEco art studio is based in London City Island in the Arbytes studios complex. “It is great to be surrounded by so many fantastic artists, designers and creators. They really inspire and motivate me. I wouldn’t have gotten so far this quickly if I wasn’t surrounded by so many like-minded people.” YagoEco can also be found at the Greenwich Market a few times a month and other design/fashion and eco-friendly/vegan fairs and exhibitions across England. “I love to talk to people about my products. They are usually quite surprised when they release how the jewellery is actually made. The final product doesn’t look at all like a plastic bag so it is hard to make the connection at first”.