Dell’s lovely recycled computer jewellery is just the beginning

By Kitty Knowles 11 January 2018

The Nikki Reed-Dell jewellery line isn’t just pretty - it’s the future.

What becomes of your old computer when it finally dies?

Most join the 9m tonnes of electronic waste created in Europe each year (a figure expected to grow to more than 12m by 2020).

But some lucky Dell motherboards are finding a new lease of life, in the world of recycled fashion.

The American company has joined forces with Twilight actress Nikki Reed to sell 14 and 18 carat gold rings, earrings and cufflinks.

Dell computer jewellery

The range, called The Circular Collection, is really rather pretty, and doesn’t look like it’s been crafted from computer waste at all.

Pieces start at $88, and can be bought from Reed’s online boutique Bayou With Love. And although the Dell Reconnect program is run from the US (with computers collected from local Goodwill stores) these accessories can also be shipped around the world.

Dell also this week announced it would be using recycled gold in its new motherboards for its Latitude 5285 2-in-1 laptops (releasing in March) – part of its commitment to use 100m pounds of recycled material in its product portfolio by 2020.

This Bloomberg furniture was coloured with waste powder from 150 toner ink cartridges. Image: Bloomberg.

Just the beginning

While Dell’s jewellery line may well be a publicity stunt to draw attraction to its wider green commitments, recycled product design is growing in popularity.

Bloomberg has already demonstrated the creative furniture aesthetics that can be achieved with electric waste.

The media giant’s Waste Not Want It project sees the company’s old computer cables, keyboards, even printer cartridges, repurposed into exciting tables, benches, desks and chairs that are used by employees.

And the fashion world too is keen to use technology to put all kinds of recycled products on the catwalk.

Last year actress Emma Watson’s wore a sleek, monochrome gown to the Met Gala, woven from material made out of recycled plastic bottles, while British designer Christopher Raeburn is well known for his dedication using recycled yarn.

Even sports brands like Adidas and Nike are getting in on the act – with the former’s Parley for the Oceans trainers made entirely of recycled ocean waste, and the latter using recycled plastics to make the socks, shorts and jerseys worn in the United States’ 2015 Women’s World Cup uniforms.

Read more: The 9 best future trainers: BMW car-inspired kicks & Adidas sea plastic shoes

Diana Auria's swimwear has been made from recycled fishing nets. Image: Auria.
Diana Auria's swimwear has been made from recycled fishing nets. Image: Auria.

“Integrity and substance”

Using waste to create recycled fashion isn’t just good for the environment – it’s good for businesses hoping to connect with, and profit from, increasingly eco-conscious shoppers.

Making products from recycled materials gives brands “integrity and substance” sustainable designer Diana Auria told The Memo last year.

The leader, whose swimwear is made from recycled fishing nets, also said the trend was on the rise:

“One day soon ‘ethical fashion’ will just be the normal standard”.

Anna Bance, founder at Girl Meets Dress.

To shop ethical doesn’t always mean recycled material, of course, it could be renting clothes second hand through services like Girl Meets Dress in the UK, or even signing up to subscription clothes services like YCloset in China or Gwynnie Bee in the US.

Read more: Girl Meets Dress: the clean, green future of your wardrobe

“There are really exciting alternatives,” said fashion leader Stella McCartney in one recent interview.

“It’s a new way of looking at the fashion industry.”

Computer jewellery might sound fit the the realms of geekery, but make no mistake: it’s the future.