When it comes to living a sustainable eco friendly life I will be the first to hold my hand up and say that I am not perfect! But I believe that committing to start the journey towards sustainability, and progressing with this, is what will move us forwards, rather than aiming for perfection then failing miserably and giving up! This is how I approach it in my day to day life and my approach to SilverHare Jewellery is no different. Small changes do make a difference; we just have to begin by putting one foot forward and starting on that journey.
In all aspects of my business I try to consider the impact I am having on the environment. In some areas I have made changes already, in other areas I have plans for change, and in other areas I haven’t got that far! Below I have set out what I do currently and what I plan to do in the future.
Wherever I can source recycled silver to make my jewellery I do. I am currently able to source the following to make the main components of my jewellery:
Art Clay Fine Silver Clay
Silver metal clay is made by combining very small particles of silver with an organic binder and water which produces soft clay. The silver clay is manufactured using recycled silver from the jewellery, giftware, medical, dental and electronic industries. It is available in both fine silver (99.9% silver) and sterling silver (92.5% silver).
I use the fine silver to make all my pendants and earrings.
Ecosilver Sterling Silver Wire
This is made the same way as the silver clay but comes in the form of silver wire and is sterling silver. I use this to make rings and bangles.
Ecosilver Sterling Silver Sheet
This is the same as above but comes in sheet form rather than wire form. I use this for some rings.
Manufactured using recycled silver again. I use this for soldering joins, jump rings, earring posts etc.
All the above is 100% recycled, traceable and audited.
At the moment I am unable to source earring posts, butterfly backs and wires in recycled silver. I am also unable to source sterling silver chains in recycled silver. But I keep looking and hope they become available in the future!
No silver goes to waste! I keep all the tiny off cuts of sterling silver wire and sheet in a pot, along with any “dust” created when sanding and filing the sterling silver. These off cuts can be melted down and used for embellishments etc on jewellery. In the same way I keep another pot for all the silver “dust” that accumulates when I sand the silver clay before firing and when I sand it again afterwards. I add a little water to this which then forms a silver slick which I use in my work.
When I work with silver clay in its wet form I keep any bits that are left over after forming jewellery in a special pot with a little moist sponge as this can all be used in the next piece I make.
Currently all jewellery is sent out in a jiffy bag. This I want to change! Once I have exhausted my current large supply of jiffy bags I will be looking into more environmentally friendly options.
I will look to source packaging that is made from recycled materials and/or is completely recyclable in normal curb side collections, whilst still adequately protecting the jewellery inside. I may contact The English Stamp Company for ideas (see below)!
I store my finished jewellery in plastic storage boxes to protect it from moisture, light, air and other damage. I also keep each piece in a tiny biodegradable plastic bag which I use over and over again until they fall apart! I do not keep the item of jewellery in the plastic bag when I sell it.
All SilverHare jewellery is sent out in a cotton pouch which has been sourced from a UK company who operate under EU Working Regulations.
Eventually I would like to source organic cotton pouches as organic cotton is grown and processed without using chemicals that are harmful to the environment. However, currently I am unable to source these anywhere.
Paper and printing
Each cotton pouch includes an A5 printed sheet explaining how to care for the silver jewellery inside and a little bit about where the recycled silver comes from. I currently use either paper that holds the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) “tick tree” logo or recycled paper to print on. The FSC logo guarantees that the trees that are harvested to make the paper are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally.
When printing anything I consider the purpose of it. If it is for my eyes only, I will print in fast quality and grey scale to save ink. I only use colour and normal or best quality when absolutely necessary, for example, when printing display materials.
I need to consider alternatives to business cards in the future, or at least options for having them printed on FSC card and/or recycled card with environmentally acceptable inks. I currently source them from a local small one man business. At one craft event I recently attended I saw a great idea for doing away with business cards at events – a framed card with all the business details on inviting people to take a photo of it on their phone. Now that is creative thinking! And you are far less likely to lose a photo on your phone than a business card in your pocket or bag!
Sourcing locally/UK wherever possible e.g. stamp
As a small business myself I try wherever possible to support other small businesses, especially those local to me. I will only source materials, tools etc outside of the UK when I cannot source them from the UK. Sometimes this means spending a little more, but I believe that small and medium businesses are vital to the economy of the UK and buying as locally as possible means less transportation and less impact on the environment.
An example of this is the logo stamp that I use to print my cotton pouches. This was purchased from The English Stamp Company who are a family run business based in Dorset. This is a company who strives to be green and sends all their orders out to customers in plastic free, recyclable packaging, including taped up with recyclable tape and topped off with a compostable invoice wallet – hurrah! You can see their journey towards sustainability here www.englishstamp.com/page/green
Reconditioned/second hand/up cycled equipment
Where possible I try to source equipment second hand rather than buying new. This means less things going to landfill and less energy and resources going into making new equipment.
My mobile phone is a reconditioned one bought from a company that specialises in reconditioning old mobiles. This also means I get a decent phone for a good price even if it isn’t the latest model!
My jewellery kiln I was lucky enough to be given by someone and it has three previous owners!
Much of my display materials are up cycled and/or second hand. Take a look at the Display section below.
This year we changed our energy supplier, with a marginal increase in monthly cost, to Shell’s green energy tariff. This was before I discovered that not all green tariffs are created equal! If you want to find out more about this read my blog at myecoroad.uk.
Although the green energy tariff we are on is better than a standard tariff, once our year is up we will be looking to change to a company that actually purchases renewable energy directly from a renewable generator for every unit we use, making it truly green.
Most of my display materials that are used at craft events are either what I had already lying around the house or wood store (or in the case of my old wooden crate and the pallet used to make my earrings display, my neighbours shed!) or a few pieces of drift wood found on the local beach.
It is important to me to reflect the ethos of SilverHare Jewellery in any display or marketing materials.
I will keep all of the above updated as and when I make further changes. In the meantime, if you have any ideas of how I can make SilverHare Jewellery more sustainable please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you.