This post was sponsored by Nordgreen, all thoughts my own.
While the concept may seem like a particularly fuzzy idea these days, time continues to move forward. With Autumn, and soon the holiday season, on the approach, I wanted to take a moment to talk about Nordgreen. Not only make sustainable watches, but they also encourage wearers to slow down and try and find balance in the hectic seasons, plus they work to help others too.
Based in Denmark, Nordgreen aims to both deliver classic Scandinavian design and utilise a model that puts others at the forefront of their operations. The story begins in 2017 when Nordgreen’s partners Pascar Sivam and Vasilij Brandt decided to create a brand that was sustainable, functional and beautiful, while also creating a culture of supporting vital environmental and social causes whenever possible.
Three years on, and Nordgreen’s minimalist pieces balance function and form, encourage each wearer to prioritise taking the time for contemplation, and each sale gives back through directly funding the work of charity partners around the globe.
The Nordgreen story
Sivam and Brandt started with an initial love of Danish design, which first became popular in the 1940s and 1950s and is now considered timeless. This style can generally be seen in nature providing inspiration to designers, the use of sleek lines, sophistication and practicality as key design features, and sustainability as a core consideration.
Nordgreen’s vision is to innovate and pioneer a wave of responsible Danish design, and so they worked with award-winning Chief Designer Jakob Wagner, a five-time recipient of the IF Product Design Award and Designer of the Year, to create a collection that reflects the Danish approach. Each design represents a different aspect of life in Denmark, in particular the concept of balance. Every watch is created to be simple, hassle-free and adaptable to any routine or individual need. At the same time, Nordgreen aims for their collection to encourage a sense of mindfulness, suggesting the wearer pause, contemplate and take a moment to examine thoughts as they come to mind.
This can be seen clearly in the subtle design features of the three core Nordgreen watches. The Philosopher celebrates the ability to think differently, learn from the past and create a better future, with an asymmetric second hand that continuously moves through time. The Infinity is based on the idea of a watch crafted by evolution, removing complexity to utilise only the most essential elements, highlighting simplicity and ease. Finally, the Native, which is inspired by the importance of balance. Wagner describes it as a classic redefined: simple, yet sophisticated, and human-centric at its core.
Nordgreen work with Danish partners abroad to ensure that all overseas production facilities adhere to the highest standards and follow Danish labour practices. All packaging is FSC certified; the cardboard paper comes from responsibly managed forests and the felt insides of each box are made from upcycled plastic bottles. Also, Nordgreen has worked to offset the emissions of their head office and global shipments through investment in reforestation and regreening.
Additionally, Nordgreen values promoting a circular economy whenever possible. In line with their mission to not bow to industry trends of creating excessive waste, they decided to instead create an initiative to re-use and re-sell their used products, resulting in a refurbished range offering the same quality at a lower price. They take past watches that have been used and sent back to them, fix them up to the same standard as a new watch, and sell them again (at discounted offers that cost up to 30% less) to find another happy home.
I have a refurbished Nordgreen Native watch, with a silver mesh strap and black dial. Looking at this watch you’d have no idea it once belonged to someone else! It’s perfectly pristine, lightweight, versatile enough to go with every outfit, and it does the job perfectly. I have small wrists and arms, so greatly appreciate anything that is low-hassle, light, and simple to use (even the clasp of the watch strap is extra easy), so the efficient design and minimal, flexible aesthetic make it a perfect choice for me. Plus the straps are interchangeable, meaning I could get another style if I wanted something different in future, or if something needed replacing, making one item last for years to come.
Beyond the fact that Nordgreen’s refurbished items are cheaper, I also think this is a perfect example of a circular economy functioning well. So many things go to waste or are thrown away because of our perceptions around ‘used’ items. The idea that this watch, with such impeccably high quality, could’ve been thrown away just because it was pre-owned is a ridiculous thought. It’s a beautiful, functional item that I’ll use for years to come. If anything, it’s life before I owned it proves it has the longevity to last through my lifetime, and I’m so encouraged to know that the refurbished scheme both keeps items like this in circulation, costs less, and still gives back. What more could you want?
As well as sustainable operations, Nordgreen also focuses on what they see as a deep-rooted responsibility to go beyond being a business, aiming to give back in everything they do. The Nordic region fosters a strong connection to the natural world. Sustainability is seen as a way of life, and so creating useful and long-lasting solutions is highly valued, due to the sense of inherent shared responsibility to improve life for all.
Nordgreen decided to make this a core part of their business model, and so have a giving back programme that focuses on supporting those working on health, educational and environmental issues across the globe. With the sale of each watch, Nordgreen donates money to their partner charities in these areas.
All their charity partners utilise with a one-for-one policy. For example, every watch purchased will equate to a certain amount of clean drinking water for those who currently don’t have access to it. Nordgreen remains in contact with each partner weekly to track that contributions are properly utilised, while they also receive annual reports with detailed summaries of longer-term impact.
Their key partners are:
Water for Good
Water for Good focus on clean water access in the Central African Republic, with a specific intention to create long term, accessible and sustainable solutions.
Without proper maintenance plans in place, as of 2011, only 10% of the available wells in the Central African Republic continue to provide access to sanitary water. To combat this Water for Good work directly with locals and communities to ensure clean water access long into the future. They hire and train drillers, launch water drilling enterprises, manage a supply of spare parts, and ensure government oversight. They then supply and train local technicians to maintain over 1800 water wells in the Central African Republic, keeping them working over 90% of the time to provide continued access to water sources.
Cool Earth works directly with Indigenous rainforest communities living within the most threatened areas to halt deforestation and its impact on climate change.
Cool Earth works with people who want to protect the forest in which they live. Whether setting up in-country teams working directly with communities or helping local charities develop their capacity, each partnership is community-led and adaptable to each location. Through research and discussion, Cool Earth and locals find the best ways to work together; identifying key deforestation threats in the area before creating plans for the partnership such as developing sustainable incomes, creating new educational opportunities, or achieving greater food security.
Cool Earth then invests in these plans, helping to develop skills, build sustainable livelihoods and strong self-determining communities, who have a greater capacity to protect their forests.
So far, they have supported 13 rainforest partnerships, protected 99,162 hectares of rainforest, and stored 15,679,250 tonnes of carbon.
Less than half of India’s children between the age of 6 and 14 go to school, resulting in the highest number of illiterate people in the world. Pratham UK works to improve education by focusing on the main areas of literacy, girl’s education, vocational training, and research and advocacy. They have devised a far-reaching, inclusive system that strives to provide education to as many citizens as possible.
Since their establishment in 1995 Pratham UK has become one of the largest and most successful non-governmental education organisations in India. They work in collaboration with governments, communities, parents, teachers, and volunteers to address gaps in the education system.
They do this through programs that reform ineffective teaching practices, creating learning models that can be replicated at scale to provide good education to every child, freely sharing information with other nonprofits and using findings to advocate for large-scale policy change, and training local volunteers to help implement learning interventions at a local, grassroots level using Pratham’s high-quality teaching materials.
Pratham UK currently work in 21 of India’s 29 states, reaching 58 million children and youth each year through their education programmes. Their learning and literacy work can be found in 5000 villages in 21 states, their girl’s education work is in 32 centres in 9 states, and their vocational training is in 95 centres in 15 states.
How the giving back system works
Their giving back system is simple. Each watch comes with a unique serial number, all a customer has to do is go to the Giving Back Program and type in this serial number, before selecting a cause then and there. There is no additional cost to donate, it is simply deciding where you want part of your purchase to go. When you have contributed to a cause with your watch purchase, you can at any time go to our Give Back Programme and check the current status on your donation cause. The donation cause will be attached to your watch for its whole lifetime.
All in all, I not only love the watch I have from Nordgreen, but I love what they stand for and the ways they continually try to improve and pioneer sustainable and ethical ideas wherever they can. Time may feel a little stranger these days, but if there’s one watch I’d rely on right now, it’s a Nordgreen.