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MHI recently launched a new non-profit venture, the Michael Hill Foundation. While the foundation is not a registered charity, it will direct a portion of sales from specific products to nominated partners. | Source: Michael Hill
MHI recently launched a new non-profit venture, the Michael Hill Foundation. While the foundation is not a registered charity, it will direct a portion of sales from specific products to nominated partners. | Source: Michael Hill

Greenwashing: Michael Hill tackles controversial issue

Sustainability and the impact of ‘greenwashing’ on the jewellery industry have been hotly debated in recent years, and a spokesperson for Michael Hill International (MHI) has weighed in on the subject.

Known as ‘greenwashing,’ unfounded claims by brands and businesses and the environmentally friendly nature of products are a significant issue in the retail sector.

MHI recently launched a new non-profit venture, the Michael Hill Foundation. While the foundation is not a registered charity, it will direct a portion of sales from specific products to nominated partners.

Discussing the foundation's progress since its inception, head of sustainability Kerrie Hockless said that ‘good intentions’ aren’t enough when approaching such a sensitive subject.

“Sustainability can be a complex area to understand. Many brands are making claims that they cannot back and can be incredibly misleading for consumers,” she told Vogue.

“For certain, many brands are trying to do the right thing; however, without the facts, numbers or certifications behind it, consumers should be wary.”

Kerrie Hockless, Michael Hill’s head of sustainability
Kerrie Hockless, Michael Hill’s head of sustainability
"For certain, many brands are trying to do the right thing; however, without the facts, numbers or certifications behind it, consumers should be wary."
Kerrie Hockless, Michael Hill International

Jewellery pieces purchased from Michael Hill’s LAB.Collection, which retails between $499 to $24,999, will result in contributions to One Tree Planted.

Lab-created diamond jewellery is increasingly popular with younger consumers; however, claims about the sustainability of these products have been questioned extensively.

In recent years, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has cracked down on businesses making fraudulent claims about the ‘environmentally friendly’ nature of products.

“The most important thing customers can do is research,” Hockless added.

“Brands making claims or commitments around sustainability should be completely transparent through their communications, websites, and annual reports by providing clear validation or certifications for any of the claims they are making.”

Jeweller’s 2024 State of the Industry Report surveyed more than 200 retailers about the importance of ‘sustainability’ to their customers.

Retailers were given the following prompt: My customers voice concerns about eco-friendly and sustainability issues.

Fewer than seven per cent of those contacted answered either ‘always’ or ‘very frequently’, while more than 54 per cent of responses indicated ‘rarely’ or ‘never’.

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Economic pressure: Michael Hill announces store closures, job cuts

 











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