Amazing Kids! Magazine

Buy Tagua, Not Ivory!

By Indira Polatsek Delacourte, age 15


We’ve all heard the expression “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” But have you ever heard that tagua is a girl’s best friend? Probably not. So, let me introduce you to your new best friend. Tagua, also known as vegetable ivory (phytelephas aequatorialis), is a type of nut that grows on palm trees in the rainforest primarily in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Panama, and Brazil. It is a great alternative to ivory, which is the main reason the elephant population worldwide is diminishing rapidly. Like elephant ivory, tagua is entirely natural and comes from a magnificent wild creature. But unlike elephants who are faced with tragic deaths to get their ivory, tagua is a renewable source. Just one female tagua palm yields up to 50 pounds of nuts per year, which is approximately the amount of ivory in an elephant’s tusk. Tagua is a great way to protect endangered rainforest lands, and it gives people a renewable, sustainable, natural resource to use to make jewelry. Most tagua is made through smaller businesses, leaving much less of a carbon footprint. Mining for gold, silver, diamonds, gemstones, and other metals can lead to water pollution, greenhouse gas emission, and soil erosion.

Last year my sister, my mom, and I actually had the wonderful experience to visit Ecuador and see how the tagua jewelry was made. It was cool seeing all of the people my mom knew from back when she used to live there. All of the people working there were very nice, and one of the women even showed me how to make a tagua bracelet, which I got to bring home as a souvenir. There truly is so much work that goes into each piece, and the workers genuinely love what they’re doing.

My mom’s tagua business is called Nuts for the Rainforest, and she sells her jewelry on her website (; the Earth Guardians office in Woodstock, NY; The Handmade Store in New Paltz, NY; and at local festivals. Thirty percent of purchases made online are given to the Earth Guardians of Woodstock. Her jewelry is reasonably priced, so kids can afford it. Prices range from $10-$15.

As consumers it is important we vote with our dollar. If we continue buying jewelry made of plastic, ivory, gold, and silver, companies know to make more. Tagua is sustainable and eco-friendly and is an alternative to ivory, and by buying tagua, you are buying a lot more than just the product. Every purchase helps to save the elephants and rainforest. Slowly but surely, we may just save the world, one tagua purchase at a time!

One comment

  1. Granny /

    Indira, I had no idea that you were a published author! I had never heard of tagua before reading your interesting essay. Some day when I am visiting your friend Stella and her family I would love to see your mother’s jewelry. Your mom sounds like a talented artist.
    And you, Indira, are a talented writer. I am impressed!