Tunnel Vision is a small business that runs out of Los Angeles that makes clothing, jewelry, and more for those with an extra buck to spend knowing they will be supporting sustainable and fair labor practices. At $22 I believe the Li’l Butterfly chain necklace is fairly priced especially since you are buying from a small business. Since this is a brand I frequently buy from and whose owner/founder I follow on social media, I was extremely interested to do a deep dive into their ethical practices (especially because they seem very sustainable on the surface). I was pleased to find that my only issue with Tunnel Vision is the lack of transparency of the manufacturers they work with and the specific ethical standards those companies uphold beyond being certified sustainable/ethical. As a smaller company, they may not see the importance of publishing this information which is why I gave them a 2.5.
Tunnel Vision’s Li’l Butterfly Necklace is made from stainless steel which is 100% recyclable. It is made mostly from iron and chromium and does not use much fuel or added chemicals in its manufacturing process. Therefore, even though stainless steel does take over a century to degrade, when doing so it is not harming the environment. While the melting of stainless steel in order to shape it does require energy, we do not know if the manufacturers of this particular necklace are using renewable or non-renewable energy to do so. This lack of knowledge may be a result of the size of the business or possibly due to a desire to not publish less sustainable practices on their website. Overall, using stainless steel to create these necklaces is generally environmentally friendly.
According to Tunnel Vision’s website, all of their products are made in either SGS, SEDEX, or WRAP certified sweatshop-free environments and produced in small batches. When looking at the SGS, SEDEX, and WRAP websites it seems as though these certifications actually hold merit. For example, SGS claims to “advise on the use of wind energy, test soil and water for contaminants, check air quality, assess noise pollution, model groundwater dispersion and establish whether a level of vibration is acceptable” and WRAP boasts a thorough certification process with random audits to ensure companies live up to their 12 principles that include the prohibition of child labor, environment, prohibition of forced labor, and more. But, upon further investigation, it seems as though some of these auditing agencies are not living up to the standards that they promote. Specifically, WRAP has had a few “scandals” concerning harassment and child labor at certain companies that they gave certification to. Now, this is not to say that the companies that Tunnel Vision works with only have the certification for show, but it is an interesting insight into the ways in which agencies that are set up to protect people can fail. On Tunnel Vision’s website, they also claim that they have some overseas jewelry manufacturers who “ insure ethical product standards”. I wish they would be more transparent about which items are made where and the specific manufacturers they work with in the US and overseas. Overall, they are doing more than most brands by at least ensuring that the manufacturers they work with have some level of certification, I just believe they would benefit from more transparency and specifics.
The most fascinating part about Tunnel Vision is that they are a very, very small business. This Los Angeles-based brand consists of 7 full-time workers and 2 part-time workers. Even more interesting, the main sewer is a friends’ mom who quit her old job due to mistreatment. Based on the social media platforms of the brand owner, Madeline Pendleton, and the fact that a portion of proceeds goes to Equality California and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, I believe that the staff at Tunnel Vision care a great deal about people and the planet. In a Tiktok, Madeline spoke about how all of her workers, including herself, are paid the same salary. It is clear that the entire team at Tunnel Vision works hard to ensure that their labor and sustainability practices are the best they can be.