Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fair trade, ethically sourced, recycled, green, eco-friendly...the list goes on!

With all the growing buzz surrounding being green, and for some folks I realize it is a way of life and not just a trend, I thought that when I started looking into how I could make my jewelry better from an environmental (and ethical) standpoint that I would instantly find tons of resources and people willing to share their information. I started the process how I usually do, just asking questions.

I sent e-mail to the company where I buy many of my jewelry making supplies, including metal wire, asking if any was recycled or if not, where it was sourced from.

When I would find sellers on Etsy and other shops stating that their metals were from ethical refiners or that it was 100% recycled, I would send them e-mail or a convo asking if they would share their source.

When nobody responded, I started to feel like I had suddenly stumbled upon some sort of secret, that using these types of materials in my jewelry was taboo or that if I went this route, I would be doing it for marketing reasons.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I am not a 100% green person but I try within my circle of influence in ways that I can and how better than with what I create? So it was very frustrating for me to feel this way...

But then I started to find other folks through Etsy forums or through Twitter who were sharing their information and I now feel like having improved green goals for my jewelry is entirely possible.

What are your green goals?
  1. To use 100% recycled or ethically sourced metals. I discovered that the company I buy wire from (Rio Grande) is currently using 100% recycled sterling silver so that was a nice find. They also buy scrap so don't through your tiny bits away!
  2. To use fair trade or recycled beads when possible. When shopping online, if a company uses fair trade practices, they will have information on their site about their processes. If your sources don't have any information, I would ask them what their policies are. I've also found several companies that specialize in recycled beads (glass).
  3. To be mindful about toxic chemicals and replace them with less harmful ones where possible. I'm just starting to get into silversmithing and as I don't want to expose myself to toxic chemicals, I don't really want to pass that around either.

Ask and Tell!
While it may seem like folks are touting their jewelry as organic, eco-friendly, etc. what you can do as a consumer is just ask them for their sources of materials. If they can tell you or volunteer the information, then it's not just for marketing purposes (my opinion).

Just the same, it is good customer service to let your customers know what is special about your products. Ask them to tell their friends that your jewelry uses fair trade materials or was created with 100% recycled materials.

If everyone starts asking, then we'll all start doing and will have less to worry about perhaps in terms of whether our products will harm folks or contribute to environmental concerns or that beads we're using were created in a factory with workers in substandard conditions or wages.

Links and Resources (just the tip of the iceberg!) Trade/Consumer Resources --
Ethical Metalsmiths --
Society of American Silversmiths Safer Alternatives --
Happy Mango Beads --
Soul of Somanya --

I will continue to post updated links and twitter about what I find and would love to hear about your green goals and activities too.


mzuribeads said...

Hello, Just a note to tell you that Mzuribeads is an ethical business who have been individually hand rolling recycled paper beads in the village of Ndejje in Uganda for over two years. I would like everyone interested in fair trade beads, or the art of rolling paper beads to visit our website, where you can locate a stockist near you or goto our online shop to buy our loose paper beads and paper bead jewellery. Thank you.

MoogieX said...

Thank you so much for the link and information! Am sharing on Twitter as well.