Can plastic be fantastic?
Over the past year, there has been an up-and-coming accessories trend: plastic rings. Launched in 2018, La Manso is a Barcelona-based jewelry brand that produces some of the boldest and brightest plastic rings in the market ranging from £50 to £65. From Bella Hadid to Dua Lipa, the La Manso brand has been seen on some of the most influential figures in the world of social media. The revival of 90s and 00s costume jewellery has come back in full force, but to what extent is this a trend that will simply pass and result in an influx of ‘knuckledusters’ heading to landfill? While I appreciate the use of vintage materials and casts to create the ring, I am unsure how this use of second-hand plastic will persist as the business continues to grow. Furthermore, there is a general lack of transparency regarding the companies processes and workers which limits its planet ratings.
The base of each ring is made from methacrylate, which is a component in many plastics and is used to create a synthetic resin. Synthetic resin is a transparent form of plastic that is notoriously bad for the environment as it contains petroleum. The extraction of petroleum contaminates water sources which has devastating impacts on ecosystems and the natural environment. Resin may also be highly toxic if not disposed of properly, which poses further risk to both people and the environment. Whilst the ring is only equivalent to the plastic of three buttons, the large scale of this trend means that this will accumulate to a high volume of plastic. La Manso also claims that all pieces are recyclable, however, due to the limited environmentally friendly and ethical acrylic recycling facilitates, many of these rings may still end up in landfills, which are already around 25% plastic.
The ring arrives in a latex glove in a bid to bring glamour into the everyday. Though latex has been claimed to be a sustainable alternative to petroleum-based or animal materials, latex rubber production has accelerated deforestation in tropical rainforests such as the Amazon. I am really disappointed by the use of this glove as packaging as it is not a fundamental part of the product and uses unnecessary resources in the name of a trend.
La Manso claims that they up-cycle vintage second-hand plastic to create their rings, meaning no additional waste as no virgin resources must be extracted. The rings are also made in vintage moulds found in second-hand shops across Spain. Reusing vintage casts is a great way to reduce the use of new materials and associated waste products during a lifecycle. While I appreciate the use of vintage materials and casts to create the ring, the website is very vague about their process of up-cycling and this lack of transparency leads me to be suspicious about their claims.
In contrast to the huge drops seen in fast fashion, La Manso rings are not available all at once in all sizes and are uploaded as each piece is made. This really helps to reduce throwaway culture due to the rare nature of each piece and the difficulty in obtaining them.
La Manso was founded by Spanish Designer Adriana Manso and is based in Barcelona. Manso is only 25 and has a history in theatre, but decided to change her career path in 2018. I am really inspired by how a young woman has generated such a successful small business. Initially, rings were made by Adriana Manso individually, however, since the growth in business production, it has shifted to a family-owned business. La Manso has a great opportunity to embrace sustainability and adopt more green practises into their company due to its small scale. La Manso only has three workers which would make you assume that worker treatment and social sustainability is maintained. However, I am concerned by the lack of information regarding worker wellbeing or wages which leads me to be cautious with my rating. La Manso really needs to increase their transparency concerning their production in order to maintain any form of consumer trust.