Making Waves Earrings is a Melbourne-based social enterprise that creates earrings out of post-consumer plastic. Their bold, handmade earrings are made from 100% recycled materials in an effort to prevent plastic pollution. They have sold hundreds of earrings online and at markets where they hope to spread awareness about sustainable consumption and marine health. Their beautiful earrings clean beaches and spark meaningful conversations that inspire others to consume sustainably (Making Waves Earrings, 2019).
Making Waves Earrings creates incredible jewelry out of scraps of single-use plastic to prevent them from becoming pollution. Using entirely recyclable materials, the three amazing women behind Making Waves are creating unique, sustainable jewelry that maximizes the usage of the precious plastic they are made from. The team collects hard plastics from beach clean-ups and local businesses which they cut into small pieces and melt into the shapes that become the earrings (Making Waves Earrings, 2019). However, the innovation of this jewelry is not just their imaginative way of reusing plastic. The bold earrings serve as a “vessel for conversation” to facilitate education about the detrimental effects of marine pollution (Graves, 2021).
In 2019, Making Waves’ co-founders Tara Graves, Sarah Carino, and Melisa Castillo started the business as a part of a class about entrepreneurship during their Advanced Science Degrees at Monash University. The class aimed to give high achieving science students the chance to develop soft skills to help them create positive impacts for the planet and other people. The trio decided on ocean protection as the primary focus of their social enterprise due to their lifelong appreciation for the beach. As explained by Co-founder Tara, “living so close to the beach, it has been devastating to see [the marine environment] not being taken care of in the way it takes care of us” (Graves, 2021). Tara also explains that they were inspired to continue their business after the class ended because they saw that their earrings were “getting people talking” about pollution and that it would be a “shame to stop the momentum” (Graves, 2021).
Most estimates suggest that about 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year (Australian Marine Conservation Society, 2021). This plastic pollution is destroying marine biodiversity as marine animals mistake plastic for food. As addressed by Sustainable Development Goal 14, ‘Life below water’, this destruction is having detrimental impacts on the economic, social, and ecological wellbeing of people and the planet (United Nations, 2015). Whilst plastic pollution is an enormous problem, the founders of Making Waves Earrings are taking a two-fold approach to tackle it. Firstly, there is a clear environmental benefit of using-post consumer plastics. It not only stops this plastic from polluting marine systems but also prevents more plastic from unnecessarily being made. Secondly, the Making Waves team hopes that by creating conversations about sustainable business practices, conscious consumption, and marine pollution they can inspire others to make more sustainable decisions. In this way, Making Waves hopes to create a much larger movement about conscious consumption.
With their bold shapes and vibrant colors, the re-purposed plastic Making Waves uses creates fabulous earrings to allow people to “recycle in style” (Making Waves Earrings, 2019). Their unique vibrancy has convinced hundreds of people to purchase a pair. This uniqueness has definitely been a selling point as Tara explains, “there is nothing like it, our designs have never been made before” (Graves, 2021). Furthermore, because of the unpredictable manner in which plastic melts, each piece is completely unique which Tara believes is a key selling point.
Alongside the unique look of their products, Making Waves’ unique allegiance to sustainability is what co-founder Tara believes is the real business benefit. She explains that the “sustainable movement is here to stay” and that consumers are being more conscious. Thus, with a message like “earrings that clean beaches”, Making Waves attracts many customers who are sustainability-focused and “buy because they believe in the message” (Graves, 2021).
The extraordinary environmental benefits of Making Waves’ earrings are undeniable. Firstly, by making earrings out of discarded single-use plastic, Making Waves is actively helping limit plastic pollution. According to their website, the group has collected over 3000 pieces of plastic off their local beaches (Making Waves Earrings, 2019). Additionally, when interviewing co-founder Tara, I was extremely impressed at how in-depth the team had considered their environmental impact. For example, the earring hooks are made by a local small business out of recycled silver, the team uses a filtering system to limit chemical fumes from entering the atmosphere and many of the molds they use are second-hand ice and cupcake trays (Graves, 2021). Through years of experience, the co-founders of Making Waves have successfully created an entirely sustainable business model which ensures that consumers can be confident that buying Making Waves jewelry (as opposed to most other brands) is a choice that is environmentally beneficial.
However, Tara believes that their greatest impact has been their social benefit. Tara explains that their earrings are “vibrant for a reason” as the earrings are not only meant to be a sustainable jewelry option but a “vessel for conversation” (Graves, 2021). They hope that when people wear their colorful jewelry, others will be curious enough to start a conversation about the earrings. This in turn raises much-needed awareness about plastic pollution in marine systems and will hopefully inspire others to be more conscious about their consumption. The team wishes to make sustainability accessible, dispel any fears about the environmental movement and create a wider community of people who care about the health of our marine systems.
Australian Marine Conservation Society, 2021. Ocean Plastic Pollution. [Online]
Available at: https://www.marineconservation.org.au/ocean-plastic-pollution/
[Accessed 5 February 2021].
Graves, T., 2021. Interview with Making Waves Earrings Co-Founder, Tara Graves. Melbourne: s.n.
Making Waves Earrings, 2019. Earrings that Clean our Beaches. [Online]
Available at: https://www.mw-earrings.com/
[Accessed 4 February 2021].
United Nations, 2015. Goal 14, Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. [Online]
Available at: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal14
[Accessed 5 February 2021].
Tara Graves, Co-founder
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Melbourne, Victoria, AU
Business Website: https://www.mw-earrings.com/
Year Founded: 2019
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Making Waves Earrings is a Melbourne-based social enterprise that creates earrings out of post-consumer plastic. They have sold hundreds of earrings online and at markets where they hope to spread awareness about plastic pollution in marine systems. Their beautiful earrings clean beaches and spark meaningful conversations that inspire others to consume sustainably (Making Waves Earrings, 2019).