When jewellery goes eco-friendly

Expensive diamond rings have become the poster child of extravagant marriage proposals, but many people don’t know the story behind those gems. 

Much of the diamond trade throughout the world is artificially inflated. The world’s largest diamond retailers hold a monopoly over the market artificially limiting the availability of diamonds and driving the prices straight up. That stock is populated by a market full of environmental devastation.  

One retailer, Cullen Jewellry, is trying to cut into that market with ethically sourced gems, made with science. 

In 2018, the founder, Jordan Cullen was out shopping for engagement rings for his then-girlfriend when he found the things he liked exorbitantly expensive and knew, at least a little bit, about the questionable origins of the gems. He started searching for alternatives but struggled to find any. 

“I didn’t know anything about the industry or anything like that,” Jordan tells Smiley News. “So I was thinking, I just go to a normal jeweler, buy a diamond, it’d be easy, but it turned out I couldn’t afford that at the time.

“So I started to look into something that was going to be a little bit more affordable and in that research, I came across Moissanite and lab diamonds. I realized the differences in the ethical element of those gemstones.”

The displacement of people and the environment ended up being a sticking point for Jordan and he started working with a local jeweler on a moissanite gemstone, an artificial gem sometimes known as a diamond simulant. The work and relationship he formed with the jeweler would eventually shape Cullen Jewellry.

“We wanted to take a different approach where we would be transparent on both the environmental impact of things and also the price point,” Jordan says.

“Our Instagram and our social media currently are just all about education, educating consumers in different ways that jewelers might look to take advantage of consumers who try and bring those things to light so that a consumer, whether they go with us or not, is still going to avoid some of those pitfalls that they may have fallen into.”

Cullen Jewellry also has wider initiatives in its business. One of the most prominent is that they pay to plant 10 trees for every engagement ring they sell. Most of the metal they use in their jewelry is recycled, and they even plan on being carbon-neutral by 2023.

“It really takes like a first mover to become the new baseline and then the other players have to fall into line. So I think that us doing it will make a lot more of an impact than just us, but also pressure the industry.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


The volunteer giving dogs an extra paw on Christmas Day

A dog lover in Leeds is going the extra mile this Christmas to make sure all pups are taken care of.

Tell me more!

Evelyn Grice from Beeston has been volunteering with Dogs Trust since 2008. She volunteers twice a week at one of their rescue centres, and this year has decided to give up her Christmas day to make sure her furry friends are happy.

What does volunteering on Christmas day look like?

Well, for Evelyn, this year it looks like spending the day in the laundry room! But she doesn’t seem to mind. Here’s what she said about it:

“I love volunteering, whatever I am doing. For many years I walked the dogs and on Christmas morning I will join the team taking the dogs out, but now my main job is doing the laundry so that’s what I’ll be doing. It is of course never-ending, from towels to beds, and it doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas! But knowing the dogs have lovely clean bedding to snuggle into makes it all worthwhile.” 

Happy Christmas to Evelyn, and all her four-legged friends!

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Life on Land and Partnership for the Goals.


The children saving batteries from landfills

Four schools in Wales are being celebrated for a very exciting reason.

Go on, tell us!

Alright, alright! Four primary schools in South Wales have been participating in Caerphilly County Borough’s annual battery recycling initiative. 

What have they been doing?

The initiative is in partnership with the European Recycling Platform and involves children bringing in batteries from home that would ordinarily be thrown away so that they can be recycled and kept out of mainstream waste.

How much of a difference has it made?

A pretty massive one! All of the participating schools compete against one another and, in the process, they recycled over one tonne of batteries this year. That’s about as heavy as six reindeer!

Although all the schools put up a valiant effort, only four could be victorious. This year those schools were Cwmaber Juniors, Ysgol Penalltau, Libanus Primary and Ty Isaf Infants Schools.

Each winning school won £100 in Amazon vouchers, with Cwmaber Juniors winning an additional £100 voucher for having the largest weight, with their recycled batteries coming in at 92 kilograms.

Congratulations, everyone!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Responsible Consumption and Production.

Equality Uncategorized Wellbeing

11-year-old helps give gifts to foster children

The holidays are a time for giving, love, and sharing. No matter what you celebrate the entire season is a time for togetherness and joy, but some people don’t have the resources or opportunities to celebrate the holidays usually as the result of financial constraints. 

Some people see that happening and want to help. This particular person was just 11 years old. 

Jonathan or ‘J.J.’ Werner is 11 years old and a Scout and was inspired to help kids in foster care in his area. Through popcorn sales with the Scouts, he raised money to buy hundreds of gifts for kids in foster care. 

To see his vision through he sold $46,194 worth of popcorn, $5,800 of which he could use to buy presents for the kids in need. 

Jonathan was inspired by his dad’s upbringing in foster care, hoping to provide something to kids that it sounded like his dad didn’t have.

“My dad spent 14 years in foster care and based upon stories that he had being in foster care, it doesn’t really sound like they had much of a Christmas,” he said.

His mother helped him see the vision through, helping him shop for and wrap the presents as well as using her van to deliver the presents in Kanabec County and Isanti County. All in all, he helped provide presents for 120 kids. 

“I adopted all the foster care kids in Kanabec County and Isanti County for Christmas,” Jonathan said.

This article aligns with the UN SDG No Poverty.


Top 10 Everyday Heroes of 2022

At Smiley Movement we love to celebrate people who are doing good; whether that is for their community, their planet or a chosen charity.

As we come to the end of 2022, here are some of our most popular tales of everyday heroes on our website, so you can read them all over again. A Christmas present from us, to you!


Nokuzola is an award-winning period activist working in South Africa. She has had many victories so far, including having tampon tax scrapped, and garnering huge financial support for ending gender inequality. Read more about her story here!


During Italy’s lockdown, Sasha started a TikTok channel where she spoke openly about the environment, and how important it is that we start trying to protect and restore our home planet. Now with nearly 350,000 followers, Sasha’s story is one to catch up on!


Passionate about mental health, Keegan encouraged people all over the world to write the message ‘mental health matters’ on a piece of paper and take a picture with it. Sharing these pictures with the world, Keegan was determined to make people feel less alone and encourage people to take care of their minds the way they take care of their bodies. Read on to find out more!


Too cute not to feature twice, Jars of Joy also made it onto our Top 10 Most Heartwarming Stories list, which you can check out here! This mother-and-daughter duo used the pandemic as an opportunity to spread joy to people all across the world – take a look to see how they did it!


A Polish woman living in London, Agi used her connections across Europe to help link up people in Ukraine with those outside the country who could help them. What started off as helping out a friend’s mother became so much bigger – click the link to read what she did next!


Another one that was featured in our Top Ten Heartwarming Stories post, Darren James created these mental health badges for workwear, so that wherever you go, you always know someone is around to support you. Read on to find out more about his story!


Joey Li and Thuta Kin teamed up to create Leiho, an online shop with a difference. When you buy the essential items sold at Leiho, another essential item is donated to local homelessness charities and projects. Click the link above to see where their story began!


Ursula is the first to be featured in our Everyday Heroes video series! The founder of the charity The Flower Bank, Ursula leaves ‘flower bombs’ for people in her community made up of flowers that would otherwise be thrown away. Click the link above to watch the video!


Yasmin Benoit is a lingerie model turned asexual activist who is fighting for more awareness and recognition of asexuality. Yasmin has teamed up with Stonewall to increase understanding of asexuality, check out the rest of her profile at the link above!


When Nina was 16, she set up the non-profit ‘PinkWeek’ in honour of her mum, who died of breast cancer. Today, she has raised over $600,000 for cancer research – find out more of the amazing things she has done at the link above!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnerships for the Goals.


South Australia makes ‘green’ history

South Australia has hit an exciting new green milestone!

What is it??

From December 12 to 19 the state of South Australia was powered entirely by green energy! According to National Energy Market data, wind and solar energy contributed to 103.5% of the state’s requirement for that week.

That sounds amazing!

Doesn’t it just! While gas still contributed to 5.9% of electricity when renewables were not enough during points in the night, this is a huge milestone – one that has never been seen in the country before.

What does this mean for the future of renewables in Australia?

While we aren’t all the way there yet, this is a huge stepping stone on the road to going green. Head of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre at Victoria University, Bruce Mountain said that he believes renewables could power the state for a month as early as next year.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate just how far we have come, and look forward to a greener future!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

Equality Wellbeing

Lake Erie County Imagination Library Mails 1 million books to kids

Reading and learning are incredibly important in every station of life but especially so in childhood. Not every kid has access to consistent reading though, either unable to afford new books or too far from a resource like a library to check out free ones. 

To address this the Imagination Library in Erie County has been mailing free books to kids every month over the last decade. 

Recently they passed the milestone, mailing out over 1 million books to local children. 

“If they start (receiving books) when they’re born, by the time they’re 5 they have a library of 60 books,” said Laurie Root, president of United Way of Erie County.

What are Imagination Libraries?

Replicating the success that the illustrious Dolly Parton found with the original Imagination Library different ones popped up all around the country following Dolly’s original vision and with her support. 

The Lake Erie County Imagination Library has been around for just under 10 years and has served over 28,000 local children. 

“Research showed children who enrolled in Imagination Library by the time they were in kindergarten had statistical improvements in early literacy skills,” Root said. “We’re really setting them up for success in school and in life.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.


This woman has dedicated her life to birds – for the sake of the planet

“I never thought about anything else except birds.”

Rosemary Low’s whole life has been about birds. From the pets she adored, to the creatures she looked after during her conservation efforts in the Canary Islands, her life can be mapped by the thousands of birds she has known and cared for.

“​I have been passionately involved with birds since I was five years old,” says Rosemary. “It was a pet duck that I pushed around in a doll’s pram!”

While Rosemary has had, at one time, owned over 80 birds between her home and her aviary, she truly believes that a smaller group is the way to go. That way, she says, you can foster deeper connections – like the one she had with her Yellow-crowned Amazon.

“Her name was Lito,” Rosemary says of the parrot she holds closest to her heart. “She was an important part of my life for 37 years and the parrot with whom I had the strongest bond.

“If anyone sang along to a song on the radio Lito would join in, usually very much out of tune. She had a good sense of melody and really enjoyed melodic songs. I think she would not have approved of today’s pop music! She died in 2006. I miss her still.”

Throughout her life, Rosemary has been many things – a journalist, an author, a researcher, a charity founder and a conservationist. Her work for various charities and conservation centres has raised thousands of pounds for the preservation and protection of endangered species of birds around the globe.

“A world without birds would be unthinkable,” says Rosemary. “We need them: the most visible of all the creatures around us, to remind us that we are not the only creatures on this planet.”

From deforestation and climate change to the introduction of non-native predators and poaching, the last few hundred years have not been kind to the birds of the world.

According to BirdLife International’s ‘State of the World’s Birds’ Report 2022, 49% of bird species worldwide have a declining population, while 21.9% are listed as “of significant conservation concern”.

BirdLife International found that there are between 21 and 32 bird species that would have gone extinct without the help of conservation work like that Rosemary has performed throughout her lifetime. 

Rosemary has travelled extensively as part of her work protecting birds, including spending nearly eight years in the Canary Islands working as a curator of two separate collections of parrots. First, in Loro Parque and later in Palmitos Park, Rosemary lived on-site, often hand-rearing hatchlings whose parents could not care for them.

“Parrots are highly sentient and intelligent and their emotional needs are as important as their practical ones,” explains Rosemary. “They need to be treated as individuals.”

Alongside her work as a conservationist, Rosemary has penned hundreds of articles and scientific papers to the conversation surrounding birds and their protection. She has also written the most books one person has ever written on parrots (dead or alive) – a whopping 33!

She worked with The World Parrot Trust, helping founder Mike Reynolds set up the trust in 1989. The World Parrot Trust is a science-based conservation charity dedicated to parrot welfare. Today, she lends her support to different charities including BirdLife International, and the Instituto Arara Azul, which Rosemary supports personally. Through the Instituto Arara Azul, you can sponsor a nest box for Hyacinth Macaws, many of which have cameras installed so you can check up on the chicks inside.

Rosemary firmly believes that parrot keepers should make an effort to support conservation efforts. “There are so many projects and never enough funding, especially at this time when household budgets are causing serious cuts in charity donations.”

Rosemary’s most recent book, Female Heroes of Bird Conservation, is available for purchase online. 

“This book shines a spotlight on more than 30 of these female heroes. It encourages women to be inspired by their stories and to make their own contributions to saving wonderful feathered creatures from extinction.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life on Land.


Top 10 heartwarming stories of 2022

Many people associate the end of the year with joy and kindness – and here at Smiley Movement, that’s what we’re all about! So whether you need a pick-me-up this winter, or you’re already overflowing with festive cheer, here are our top ten most heartwarming tales to bring you a little extra joy.


These adorable little crochet worms were created by Madelaine Mattis with the intention of helping people to relieve some of the stresses of everyday life. Click the link to read more about how Madelaine brings joy to strangers in her community!


Meet the college in America who are helping stray cats off the streets and into their fur-ever home. Follow the link to see how they’re taking such good care of their city’s kitties!


Ahead of International Women’s Day 2022, these children sat down to draw the women that truly inspire them – and the results are remarkable! Follow the link to see who these kids consider to be incredibly inspiring women! 


This dynamic mother-daughter duo launched ‘Jars of Joy’, decorated glass jars that they encouraged people to fill with happy memories. Throughout lockdown, the pair used these jars to spread positivity across the globe – read on to find out how!


These six dogs went from being rescued to rescuing themselves when they were trained to become service dogs. Click the link to read more about their journey, and see some adorable pictures!


Darren, who has suffered from mental health issues himself, decided to create a free ‘mental health’ work patch. He got in contact with Samaritans and designed a patch to advertise their services to people who may need it – go to the link to see more!


Wilfred the giraffe was born this year, marking a huge win for the conservation of his species. Follow the link above to see why he’s so important – and why he’s so stinkin’ cute!


A pride of lions were rescued from Ukraine and relocated in what was the biggest rescue of the species from a war zone ever recorded. Keep reading to see what happened to the lions, and how they’re doing in their new home!


A group of Moon Bears were rescued from bile farms in South Korea and relocated to America where, for some of them, they were able to touch grass for the first time in their lives. Click the link to see the pictures, and hear the heartwarming tales of those who were there to see their first steps into freedom!


These ‘Shower Buses’ are driving around Brooklyn offering free showering facilities to people experiencing homelessness. The buses offer a huge variety of other facilities including clean socks and underwear and more – click on the link above to see what it’s all about!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnerships for the Goals.


This woman brings cuddly toys to lonely seniors

It is well known that everyone loves a cuddly toy – no matter how old, or how young, there is nothing quite like the comfort of snuggling with your favourite creature.

That’s what Patricia Gallagher realised one Christmas when she decided to read to the residents at an old people’s home back in 2009 and brought along some toys that used to belong to her children.

“It was December 1st [2009] and I was feeling out of sorts,” explains Patricia. “I said to my mother ‘why don’t we go to the dollar store, buy 10 copies of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and I’ll call a couple of nursing homes and see if we can go over and read the stories to the residents.”

Deciding she couldn’t go empty-handed, Patricia and her mother gathered together some props; snow globes and bells and wreaths, and stuffed animals that used to belong to her children.

“When we went in there they were [at] a long table just sitting there,” says Patricia, of the first nursing home they visited. “And all of a sudden my mother and I started draping these Christmas blankets and stuffed animals and giving them bells to ring and the room just became alive.”

As Patricia read to the residents she saw them brightening up, holding their stuffed animals. But when it was time for Patricia and her mother to leave, the residents were suddenly unwilling to let their new toys go. After persuading them to return the toys, many of which belonged to Patricia’s children, Patricia promised to return another day with their own stuffed toys.

“That night I put [it] on Facebook – I said I feel as high as a kite,” says Patricia. “[Then] this friend of mine, a Facebook friend that I didn’t know well, said that she had a charity and they had 250 stuffed animals leftover from an event and they were brand new, and would I like [them]?”

From there, things began to spiral. Patricia and her mother began visiting veterans homes, nursing homes, and more, offering to read to the residents and giving out brand new, or lightly used, stuffed animals.

Patricia put the call out on Craigslist, in hopes of taking stuffed animals off the hands of people who would otherwise simply have thrown them away. In doing this, she got several memorable responses that still stick with her today.

“[There was] a little Jewish boy and he had his bar mitzvah project,” explains Patricia. “And his mother said he was going to collect 100 [cuddly toys] and he and his little sister Ella would like to go with us on Christmas Eve and pass them out. Well, by the time Christmas Eve came they had 413!”

The stories of generosity go on and on, from the mother who donated the toys of her deceased daughter, to children asking friends to donate toys in lieu of birthday presents.

In the midst of all this, Patricia picked up yet another project to help give back to her community – she became the Happy Flower Lady, after setting up the Happy Flower Day Project as a non-profit. Patricia goes around shops in search of day-old flowers, which would otherwise be thrown away, and gives them out to strangers in her community to help bring a smile to their faces.

Today, Patricia’s stuffed animal project has become much bigger than anyone expected. Currently, she is making ‘granny bags’ with local children with special needs – they create a memorable holiday care package together from items donated or bought at the dollar store. 

These granny bags are put together from items like chapsticks, sweet treats, and, of course, the all-important stuffed animals, which are then taken and given out in nursing homes, veterans homes, and more in the run-up to Christmas. 

“I believe it came from my mother and father. I mean that’s the way they were … when we were kids,” says Patricia, of her generous, giving spirit. “I remember my mother had a saying that ‘it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness’. She said whenever you hear people complaining about things … go out and do something good, go out and light up the world.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Partnership for the Goals.