When Wade and I started Pyrrha together in the ’90s, we didn’t begin by writing a mandate or touting our intention to put people and the planet on the same line as profits (John Elkington’s now well-known ‘triple bottom line’ measurement of a company’s financial, social and environmental performance later resonated with us). Rather, we began by sitting at our kitchen table and making jewelry, from reclaimed metals, that we thought was beautiful and unique, and that supported ethical suppliers, retailers, charities, and other community partners we knew and loved.
That was it: without thinking of ourselves as ‘do-gooders,’ we did good — or at least, we did our best, which, for both of us, has always meant pursuing a business that has a positive impact on people and place. Over the years, that heartfelt intention has become more refined and more amplified via incredible education and support from organizations devoted to empowering sustainable growth in industry.
Our unwavering focus on producing a product that not only ‘does no harm’ but that brings joy and value to others, has earned us membership as a Certified B Corporation, which called for a rigorous process and is a rarity in our industry — we’re one of only 26 B Corp members worldwide in jewelry manufacturing. As well, we’re certified carbon-neutral and proud members of both 1% for the Planet and the Responsible Jewellery Council.
The RJC’s code of practices has accelerated and clarified our journey to integrate sustainability into everything we do. We’re committed to achieving RJC certification to reinforce the sustainability values at Pyrrha (think of it as a high-watermark stamp of approval). Through this process, we have developed and articulated the depth and breadth of our promise to integrate ethical, human rights, social and environmental considerations into our day-to-day operations, business planning activities and decision-making processes. This included completing the RJC's Human Rights Due Diligence Toolkit and conducting supply-chain due diligence in accordance with OECD guidelines.
With that in mind, this year Wade and I fulfilled a long-held dream to bring our vision of a fully restored heritage house with adjoining production facility to fruition. Our landscaping features a unique bird and bug wall in the courtyard that provides much needed urban habitat and encourages biodiversity. We consciously designed the production tower to be low carbon in construction and operation. As well, we utilized sustainable elements such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), a geothermal system for heating and cooling, and photochromatic windows to combat heat gain. Our production tower and showroom have been granted Zero Carbon Certification through the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) to recognize our build's sustainability and performance achievements.
Along with the creation of a new space, we’ve raised the bar this year to become yet more responsible in terms of staff relations, environmental stewardship, community partnerships, and the like. We became a certified Living Wage Employer, and recently added bereavement leave to our employee benefits. We provide our team with a large bike room equipped with showers and electric charging stations, and we partner with Em-Terra Environmental for their single-stream recycling program. And we are so pleased to celebrate and support a growing number of charitable causes close to our hearts including Hives for Humanity, The Environmental Youth Alliance, and To Write Love on Her Arms. Over the past year, we are proud to have raised $25,000 USD for The Trevor Project, an incredible charity that provides 24/7 crisis support services to LGBTQ young people. We are honoured to provide a full annual scholarship for the Jewelry and Design program at Vancouver Community College, and a $3500 annual award for a first-year Indigenous student whose work shows creativity and promise.
Wade and I are grateful every day for the work we’re privileged to do, and for our devoted team, our enthusiastic retailers and customers, and for the remarkable inspiration and guidance we receive from other sustainability leaders who share and support our vision to learn and grow.
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