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. So, as part of the United Nations global Race to Zero campaign I have committed to net carbon zero by 2030 and become a UK Business Climate Action Leader. You can find out more about this here Race to Zero campaign
There is lots of good stuff being done already here at SilverHare, but I recognise that I am far from perfect and there is lots more to be done! 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 some of what I plan to do in the future. But I will soon be adding a road map detailing the journey that SilverHare will make to achieve the goal of becoming carbon zero by 2030 so watch this space!.
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, bangles, stone settings and necklaces.
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 and for stone settings.
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.
I have started making my own jump rings from eco silver but 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.
All jewellery is currently wrapped in repurposed tissue paper (I received many sheets of it once when I ordered something online!). Once I have exhausted my current supply of tissue paper I will be sourcing a more environmentally friendly option. The jewellery is then sent out in a paper padded jiffy bag that is made from a recycled, recyclable and biodegradable paper and is completely recyclable in your normal household recycling bin . If I need to use tape on your package to make it more secure I will always use paper tape which can be recycled in the same way as the envelope.
I will always 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.
Gift Wrapping Service
I offer a gift wrapping service so you can send a gift straight to the recipient. For this I use Whistlefish paper, which is designed and made in Cornwall from FSC recycled paper and is fully recyclable. And the card I include with a hand written message is made from FSC and/or recycled paper and is fully recyclable.
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.
However, I am currently looking into sustainable environmentally friendly options for gift boxes made in the UK which will better protect your jewellery in transit.
Paper and printing
With each order I include a card explaining where to go for information on how to care for your silver jewellery and more information on the recycled silver I use in my jewellery. 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. Currently I am looking for a local printer that shares my vision for sustainability and ethical use of labour and that will be able to print these cards on sustainable, recyclable card with non toxic inks.
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. My current supply was sourced 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!
Much of my display materials are up cycled and/or second hand. Take a look at the Display section below.
After doing some research we now source our energy through a green energy supplier that invests in renewable energy for the future and has some of their own generators. This was after discovering that not all green tariffs are created equal! Having recently moved house we now have an oil boiler! Not very green! So we are currently applying for a grant to help us install Air Source heating. I use a little electric heater in my “studio” (currently the back of the garage!). On the up side, we have PV panels on our garage that generate more green electricity for the national grid than we take out of it (approx. 205KWh per month generated & 173 KWh per month used).
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 email@example.com, I would love to hear from you.
Last updated on 9/6/21
Sustainability Road Map
Having committed publicly to becoming a net zero business by 2030, I have set out the following road map which details the next stages to becoming more sustainable & working towards carbon neutral, along with the action needed and dates by which I intend to take that action.
Using sustainable energy & reducing energy consumption
We already use a 100% renewable energy supplier for our electricity (made up of REGO certificates, contracting directly with renewable producers (PPAs) and investing directly in solar generation). This electricity powers a little electric heater in my “studio” (currently the back of the garage!). I only use this when it is too cold to work out there without it. It is only on while I am in there and heats only the area I work in. It has three bars so I can control the amount of heat I need. I also have a small power tool, pickling pot, lamp and kiln that are powered by this electricity supply. These tools are only on when I am using them; at all other times they are switched off, including at the mains.
We have PV panels on our garage that generate more green electricity for the national grid than we take out of it (approx. 205KWh per month generated & 173 KWh per month used).
Action Heating – having recently moved house we now have an oil boiler for heating in the house (and hence the office) and the water! Not very green! Having applied for and been accepted for a grant to help us install Air Source heating, we are unable to use the grant as the government Green Homes Grant scheme refuse to extend the voucher further than the end of October 2021 and we cannot find a company who are able to fit the new boiler before the end of November! However, we have still booked to have the new Air Source heating system installed at the end of November and will look at accessing the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
Action by: End Nov 2021 dependant on company installing heating.
Travel – to events, local delivery
Generally my travel miles are very limited as I work from my home. However, I do attend craft markets and events where I sell SilverHare Jewellery, usually about twice a month. The majority of these are local, the main one being 2 miles down the road, but I do need to use the car to transport my display materials. I also occasionally deliver an order by hand locally within 5 miles of home.
Action Cycle for local deliveries when weather permits.
Change to an electric car when this becomes financially possible. I recognise this may be a good few years away yet.
Action by: currently unable to set a date for changing car
Silver supplies – silver findings & chains
As stated in my sustainability statement, I currently use recycled silver in most of my jewellery. The exceptions are chains and earring findings and wires which I cannot source. I recently started making my own jump rings from recycled silver wire.
Action Contact main suppliers with my wish list for eco silver supplies!
Action by: November 2021
I use each piece over and over again, air drying it each time. Action However, I will look at alternatives to see if there is something else that is more eco friendly and with a lower carbon footprint.
Action by: summer 2022
Safety pickling compound
Used to remove oxidation on silver. Mixed with water & heated in a slow cooker on low heat setting (only when in use). Currently disposed of in accordance with instructions at a local waste disposal site.
Action Research if there are environmentally friendly alternatives.
Action by: end of 2022
Chemicals are tetrasodium ethylenediaminetetracetate, sodium carbonate, disodium tetraborate, decahydrate. Used to keep barrelling shot clean & prevent it rusting, as well as helping to polish the silver.
Action Research alternatives that are more eco friendly/better for the environment
Action by: end of 2022
Bicarbonate of soda
Used to neutralise silver after pickling. Used multiple times until too dirty. Also used to clean silver chains when they have become tarnished.
Comes out of the ground in the form of minerals nahcolite and trona, which are refined into soda ash (a.k.a. sodium carbonate), then turned into baking soda (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate) so has a carbon footprint. But is better than many other cleaning agents, so will continue to use.
Environmental Protection Agency lists sodium bicarbonate as “generally recognized as safe.” It’s a naturally occurring compound found almost everywhere. The EPA considers sodium bicarbonate to have a minimal environmental impact.
I am moving away from polishing pads and using more wet/dry sanding papers. I use tiny pieces on my work and use every piece over and over again until it falls apart. In this way I reduce my consumption, as it is not currently possible to recycle sandpaper and it is probably not biodegradable due to the glue used on it.
Action I will research if a more environmentally friendly option is available e.g. that uses non-toxic biodegradable glue.
Action by 11/21
I wear latex (or equivalent) gloves when sanding and polishing silver to protect the skin on my hands. I use them until they fall apart. I have so far been unable to find a sustainable alternative for tight fitting gloves.
Action Continue to research and look for viable alternatives
Action by 2030
Silver – currently stored in the zippy type bags it is sent in by the supplier as this means I am not throwing away single use plastic.
Action Contact suppliers about their packaging and suggest sending via airtight alternatives such as biodegradable plastic bags
Action by 1/22
Jewellery – currently stored in Oxo biodegradable plastic pouches to keep from tarnishing. I add a small tarnish tab in with each one.
Action check tarnish tabs against sustainability credentials and research alternatives if necessary
Action by 11/23
My intention is to reduce packaging as much as possible while protecting the jewellery in transit. Reduction is always the better environmental alternative.
I am changing over from cotton pouches and padded envelopes to card boxes and non padded envelopes to better protect the jewellery when it is sent out. A small card will be placed in the box and there will be some kind of padding in it too.
Boxes – if possible source from a UK company that has their own environmental and sustainability credentials/plan/ethics that match those of SilverHare’s. Must be made from recycled and/or FSC certified card and must be fully recyclable, preferably compostable. Any printing must be with non-toxic biodegradable inks/finishes.
Printed cards – if possible source through a local company that shares SilverHare’s commitment to sustainability. Must be on recycled and/or FSC card, be compostable/recyclable and use vegetable based inks.
Envelopes – if possible source from a UK company that has their own environmental and sustainability credentials/plan/ethics that match those of SilverHare’s. Must be made from recycled and/or FSC certified card and must be fully recyclable and preferably compostable.
Padding in boxes – research alternatives that have a low carbon footprint and are sustainable and recyclable and/or compostable.
Make reusing/recycling/composting easy and clear for customers by providing the information they need to act sustainably and recycle and compost packaging only if it can’t be reused.
Action by 10/21
Once I have used the ones I have I will not be replacing them. SilverHare contact information will be in/on the packaging. At markets I will have a photo frame or similar with contact information on it, inviting people to take a photo on their phone.
Action by October 2021
Silver – it remains difficult to obtain any information about the providence and supply chain of tools, equipment, silver and consumables. Therefore this is a part of the business I am unable to account for currently. However, communicating with main suppliers about the need for this information and why it is important in meeting net zero is key.
Action Contact three main suppliers to request more information and explain why this information is important. Look in to off setting the carbon footprint of silver through reputable effective schemes.
Action by Contact suppliers by 4/22; look in to offsetting schemes by 9/23
Continue to source second hand tools and equipment where possible and communicate with suppliers over accountable sustainability when possible.
Action Contact main suppliers of tools as above for Supply Chain & look in to off setting carbon footprint of tools through reputable effective schemes as for same.
Action by 11/24
I currently recycle anything possible through our local household recycling. I also make use of supermarket recycling for some types of plastic packaging.
Action I will start to recycle printer cartridges at Currys.
Action by 7/21
Website hosting – to be added at a later date
Search engine – to be added at a later date
Apart from the branded table cloth all my display equipment is made from repurposed pallets, wood, drift wood, paint and anything else lying around our garage! I have recently made further display materials in this way.
No further action needed.
Measuring & Assessment
Having looked at some of the tools currently available for measuring the carbon footprint of SilverHare Jewellery, I have decided to leave the measuring/assessment until such a time as there are better, easier and more relevant tools available for a very small home based business such as mine. At the moment the tools I have come across just do not translate well for my business and therefore act as a block to change, rather than helping to progress my journey to net zero. So I will continue to make the changes I know need making as per this road map and look again at measuring and assessing the impact of SilverHare on the environment at a later date.
Updating Road Map
I will update this road map at regular intervals as and when necessary but not less than every 12 months.
Accountability & review
This road map will be published on the SilverHare website and current and potential customers will be informed of it through my HareShare monthly newsletter and on my social media pages on Facebook and Instagram.
Through these channels I will also communicate to my customers the progress I am making and the changes being implemented over the next few years, along with the challenges and frustrations of meeting my targets! It is hoped that by being transparent and sharing honestly and openly in this way, that it will encourage others to start on their own personal or business journey towards becoming more sustainable, recognising the imperfect nature of this journey, but the opportunity and impact of every small action.
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.