Earth Day is just around the corner. It's a worldwide celebration of environmental protection. I'm keenly aware of nature, our environment, and try, every day, to do my part to protect it.
I grew up in the woods. Seriously, I was surrounded by forest. It was my home and my playground. I ventured out into the woods every day to explore the creeks, climb trees and get lost in my imagination. I was also raised when, in Arkansas anyway, there was a huge “don’t litter” campaign. It was successful. My entire life I’ve been mindful of litter. That awareness expanded and I soon wondered where that trash went, how and where it was disposed of.
In the last couple of decades I’ve become hyper aware that we have become a nation of disposable everything and instant anything. I use to go to a thrift store and enjoy all the funky, cool and far out stuff. Lately, I see these stores as a dumping ground. Everyone buys cheap stuff, get bored with it or it wears out quickly (or never gets worn!) and it is tossed in the trash or bagged and donated. Again, some of this donated stuff is awesome and fun. It’s very satisfying to find nifty clothing that fits and isn’t mass produced (at least not any more) or a beautiful embroidered peacock in a 1970s frame (true story). Looking at all the clutter and tossed out stuff, I can’t help but think about my jewelry.
To save myself more fretting (‘cause I fret about almost everything) over the impact on the environment due to my jewelry, I decided to stick to some principles for my jewelry business.
- It isn’t mass produced, so I’m not cranking out thousands and thousands of pieces of jewelry. Most of my designs don’t lend themselves to factory production anyway.
- I make my jewelry from very high quality materials with the hope that it lasts for generations.
- I go to great lengths to buy recycled metals, recycled packaging, displays, and business cards (made from recycled materials).
- I try to buy from suppliers as close to me as possible (I think of all the pollution caused by shipping. Ugh, and all that wasteful packaging material!)
- I melt down my scrap metal for use in other designs or I send in my metal scraps to be used in making wire and sheet metal. Sure, this means keeping the metal bits and pieces separated, but it also means I am not wasting metal and I can get cash or credit with the vendor, so I waste less metal and get a small amount of money back from those scraps.
I’ve even ditched designs if it meant a significant part of the design material was from a vendor whose work practices, customer service and quality was unclear.
As much as I love making jewelry, I also think about creating something new and putting it out there in the world. This is mysterious and magical to me. I often have no idea where the piece that I make goes. Then there are these moments when I see a piece of my jewelry on someone I don’t know. It's exciting and flattering. I feel happy that my jewelry has a home and is being worn. I don’t want to stop creating jewelry, but you can bet I try to lessen my footprint on this big, beautiful planet when I do create!
Happy Earth Day!