By Angelina Palmén, November 2010
Designers Heini Lehto and Noora Kunttu, owners of Kehrä Interior, form the driving force behind Guardian of the Baltic Sea, a jewellery project created to aid the ailing ocean.
The uncertain future of the Baltic Sea is well known. An excess of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen – three-quarters of which originate from land-based human sources such as agricultural runoff – has thrown the ocean ecosystem out of balance. Overfertilisation leads to algal blooms, which in turn decrease the amount of oxygen in the water, with perilous consequences.
In mid-2009 Lehto and Kunttu were awakened to the alarming state of the Baltic Sea and made personal vows to respond to the situation. "People are generally very environmentally conscious," Kunttu explains, "but it is easy to ignore the ocean when you can't see below the surface to the bottom, where the real damage is."
With diving as a hobby, the two women have a close-up view of the underwater world they are trying to help.
The designer duo teamed up with the influential lobbying force Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG), gaining highly respected ambassadors for Guardian of the Baltic Sea jewellery, including BSAG founding member Ilkka Herlin.
"We had racked our brains to find an appropriate and effective means for us to make an impact," Kunttu says. "The thought of combining our two passions, charity and creativity, had not even occurred to us before."
Their Guardian of the Baltic Sea concept embraces three central aspects: a beloved sea, a piece of jewellery and a good deed. On one level, the round pieces of jewellery represent physical links in the symbolic chain of guardian protectors that the two designers hope to create. The individually numbered pieces – each one is unique – can be purchased as either necklaces or tie pins.
The Guardian can also represent a silver life buoy, offered to save a suffering ocean. Kunttu mentions another source of inspiration: divers' lingo. "When underwater and unable to speak, we make a sign by joining the thumb and index finger to form a circle, to show that we are OK," she says. "We want to be able to use this sign about the Baltic Sea."
Kunttu and Lehto are committed to raising at least 100,000 euros for targeting the problem of eutrophication. Their promise forms one of numerous individual and collective vows made during the Baltic Sea Action Summit in Helsinki in February 2010.
From the pendant's 180 euro price tag, 40 euros are donated unabridged to BSAG's work. The remaining amount finances production, raw materials and packaging. The Guardian of the Baltic Sea is made from recycled silver and ensconced in an ecologically friendly box.
In other words, the jewellery is not merely nonprofit, but all-around environmentally sustainable.
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