The very first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, when what was planned as a national teach-in on U.S. college campuses to discuss environmentalism rapidly expanded into a day of protests across the country.
Around 20 million people mobilized to speak out against air pollution, oil spills and wildlife extinction. By the end of the year, the government had created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air and Occupational Health and Safety acts.
Now, 52 years later, Earth Day is observed worldwide, prompting international initiatives aimed at preserving and healing the planet.
Innovative makers around the globe are doing their part to reduce waste and combat climate change with sustainable design objects like reworked custom jewelry, furniture built from recycled materials and slow fashion. Take a look at these 12 items crafted with the earth in mind.
Jacqueline Barbosa Recycled-Gold Stud Earrings
Jewelry designer Jacqueline Barbosa aims to reduce the overconsumption of resources with her made-to-order business model. These knotted earrings are sustainably created exclusively for 1stDibs.
Wood Lighting Design Pendant Lamp
Wood Lighting Design, a father-daughter team based in Bend, Oregon, handmade this pendant using Newood. Fabricated from reconstituted natural wood fiber, the material has a sleek wood-grain pattern that lends itself well to the firm’s eco-friendly spin on mid-century modern style.
MORPHEW COLLECTION Silk Dress
Known for its vast stock of clothing by beloved brands like Versace and Roberto Cavalli, vintage fashion dealer Morphew also repurposes vintage textiles to create its own designs. Here, two silk scarves have been hand-stitched together to make a new garment that’s perfect for spring.
Monique Péan Diamond and Dinosaur-Bone Ring
This ring is one of a kind, made from fossilized dinosaur bone estimated to be 146 million to 156 million years old. Designer Monique Péan paired that unique material with a rare purple-pink brilliant-cut diamond, surrounding both with white pavé diamonds in a recycled oxidized platinum setting.
Alessandro Mendini Chaise Longue
Kick back and relax in eco-conscious style on this colorful, limited-edition outdoor chaise by Italian design master Alessandro Mendini. The pointillistic piece was created from polyethylene waste and can complement a lush garden or add to the fun by the pool.
Campana Brothers Wave Cabinet
In partnership with the Consulate General of Portugal, design duo the Campana Brothers crafted the undulating Wave cabinet using natural cork, the sustainable material the country is known for. The piece’s underlying structure is made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), which is often fabricated from wood scraps that would otherwise be discarded.
Patricia Urquiola Patcha Rug
Patricia Urquiola’s hand-knotted Patcha rugs for cc-tapis are collages of rectangular shapes in varied textures. To create them, the celebrated Milan-based designer and architect uses surplus wool from the production of other carpets, embellished by silk left over from the making of Indian saris.
&New Jää Sofa and Table Set
The word jää has two meanings in Finnish: “ice” and “please stay.” Since minimalist makers Jo Wilton and Mirka Grohn, the British-Finnish team behind UK furniture company &New, devised the Jää sofa and tables from 100 percent postconsumer plastic, it’s safe to say they created and named this set with the fight against global warming in mind.
Clothilde Gosset Walnut and Brass Screen
Designer Clothilde Gosset crafted her screen using walnut wood sustainably sourced from French forests. Its natural grain enhances the carvings of trees and foliage with which the multidisciplinary artist embellished her piece.
Seven Stages of Degradation, by Louis Thompson and Sophie Thomas
British artist Louise Thompson and designer Sophie Thomas’s glass installation speaks volumes about our pollution of the seas. First shown at the Royal Academy London, the piece is composed of seven glass bottles, each topped with a plastic cap found on the beach, a comment on the lasting and pervasive presence of this manmade material in the ocean.
Diederik Schneeman Recycled-Plastic Mirror
This colorful mirror is part of a series of works made from discarded flip-flops washed up on the beaches of eastern Africa. The piece is a collaboration between designer Diederik Schneemann and the organization Ocean Sole, which helps local communities in Kenya gather and upcycle the sandal debris, using the profits from sales of the art and design objects to fund educational initiatives and clean up area coastlines.
Sustainable Environments, by Yenna Chan
Architect Yenna Chan’s illuminating hardcover delves into the details of eco-friendly homes. Color photos and architectural drawings provide insights into building with recycled, salvaged and sustainable materials and show the ways architects around the world rise to the challenge of creating beautiful spaces while reducing their environmental impact. As an added bonus, buying this book secondhand is a great way to help the planet too.