Vegetable Ivory: A Substitute for Elephant Ivory

vegetable ivory jewelry
vegetable ivory jewelry

This piece of vegetable ivory jewelry has been left its original ivory white color

Vegetable ivory, also known as tagua, is a beautiful substitute for elephant ivory as the two elements have a close resemblance. It can seriously be considered as a solution to hunting down of elephants for ivory. Products made from tagua are becoming increasingly popular for their quality, variety and beauty. Vegetable ivory is native to South America, it’s especially common in Ecuador.

Similarities to Ivory

The hardness and color of vegetable ivory is very similar to that of elephant ivory. Tagau nuts come from the endosperms of ivory palm trees, they are very hard and ivory white in color, although they can also be dyed. Tagua can be polished and carved in the same way as elephant ivory, although the nuts are much smaller than an elephant tusk. This problem is easily solved by using a high quality glue to put several nuts together and then proceed with the carving process.

Like ivory, tagua is light weight, but exceptionally sturdy and strong. It is excellent for jewelry as the pieces are difficult to damage with normal wear. It also holds a color dye well. Often organic vegetable dyes are used on tagua as tagua takes dye easily without the need for heavy binders or further processing.

vegetable ivory organic dye

Vegetable ivory can be dyed easily with natural vegetable dyes

Benefits to Rainforests and Elephants

The use of vegetable ivory contributes to a reduction in the destruction of rain forests as well as a reduction of the hunting of elephants in Africa.

Ivory palms grow naturally and wildly as an integral part of the rainforest, especially in the swampy areas. They are a source of food and shelter to the animals of the rainforest. Large pods grow on the ivory palms and when they drop to the forest floor, local workers retrieve them and dry the nuts in the sun. As tagua is becoming an increasingly more valuable crop, there is stronger economic incentive avoid clear cutting the rainforest for farming or mining purposes.

Tagua is also becoming a popular substitute for elephant ivory: large brands are starting to demand vegetable ivory over elephant ivory to use in their clothing, jewelry and handbag lines. As vegetable ivory is just as beautiful and easy to work with, it’s an eco-friendly choice that makes a lot of sense to both buyers and consumers.

Uses of Vegetable Ivory

vegetable ivory earrings carved

These carved vegetable ivory earrings have been left their natural ivory white

The use of vegetable ivory can be traced back several centuries. Originally vegetable ivory was mainly used to make buttons. The button makers of Rochester, New York, started using vegetable ivory in 1880 for making beautifully carved buttons that were subject to a secret treatment that gave the buttons an elegant look. Later on, vegetable ivory was used for different purposes and different processing techniques were introduced. Carved shapes were developed to use in jewelry and ornaments. Vegetable ivory retains a beautiful glowing polish which has made it popular for carving, jewelry and other artifacts.

Do you have any vegetable ivory, or tagua, in your jewelry collection? What do you love about it?

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6 Eco Friendly Ways to Feel Younger

6 Eco Friendly Ways to Feel Younger

Since turning to a more eco-friendly way of life, I have found myself with more energy and a way of looking forward to each day. I am feeling younger, fitter, healthier and even wiser. The following 6 ways are the things that have made the most difference in my life.

Eat a Plant Based Diet

Eco friendly ways

Eat organic vegetables

I have stopped eating beef and pork. As I started paying more attention to how certain foods make me feel, these turned out to be in the group that just don’t make me feel good. As I am trying to live in a more eco friendly way, I realize that the production of meat simply uses too much of the earth’s resources. I eat much more fruits, veggies, legumes and nuts. I still eat seafood and chicken, but not on a daily basis.

One of the foods that I love here in Ecuador is chochos. Chochos are made from the seeds of the Lupine flower. Lupines grow wild in Canada, but I don’t think anyone eats the seeds, maybe it’s a different variety. Chochos are available in baggies at the local market for 50 cents, and they come with a topping of veggies, some tomato sauce and a big squeeze of lemon. They are delicious, a perfect light lunch.

Eat Local

Eating locally grown has become much easier for me here in Ecuador. Most of the food is grown within an average of 50 miles. In Canada, it was more like an average of 2000 miles.  Ecuador also grows crops all year round, there is no long winter season. We also get fruit and veggies in season mostly ripened on the vine/tree.

It could be that eating locally and eating food that has been ripened in the field is undervalued. Some of the studies I have read recently suggest that much of the fruits and veggies that we eat in the West loses a significant amount of its nutritional value due to the time between harvesting it and eating it (often up to 2 weeks). Certainly I have noted an increase in the flavor of the vine-ripened food that I eat regularly in Ecuador. Tomatoes, bananas and mangoes taste amazing.

Get Enough Sleep

Now that I am running my own business, I have more flexibility with my work hours. If I start an hour later because I slept poorly and need an extra hour of sleep, I can do that. Its always been difficult for me to get enough sleep, I sleep poorly in general, anxious by nature and had an office job that didn’t allow for sleeping in.

Another thing that has helped with my sleeping situation is that I am living a car-free life, so I end up walking almost everywhere. More exercise helps me to feel more physically tired at night, contributing to a better night’s sleep.

Use Eco Friendly Cleaning Solutions

Lemon, vinegar, lavender and baking soda – its all you need. In Canada I used to have a huge hoard of chemical cleaning solutions. There seemed to be a different one for every part of my home. I wasn’t aware of how these chemicals could interact with my body, especially over the long term. I use more simple ways to clean here with basic ingredients. I am no longer inhaling and picking up those intense chemical cleaners and it feels better on a variety of levels.

Pray without ceasing

Pray without ceasing

Pray Without Ceasing

Over the last 2 years I have sold all my possessions, moved to a foreign country, learned another language, made new friends, started a business… really changed my whole life. The stress of all those life changes pushed me to evaluate where I was spiritually. I did not want to be making decisions from a place of fear or anxiety, but to be living in faith, hope and confidence. So I pray without ceasing and find that I receive the help and guidance that I need every day.

Connect to Your Passion

Easier said than done, in my case. I found that my North American lifestyle of work, shopping and kids’ activities left little time to explore my passions, to really find the core purpose of my life. But always I have felt it in the background, this ‘not-quite-right’ feeling about how I was living my life. I did important work, but it wasn’t my vision. So when the opportunity came up to move to Ecuador I took the leap. Many things have been terrifying, but I have this ease of spirit that I am heading the right direction.

I would love to hear from you – have any of these types of changes, or other changes made you feel younger?

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