Celebrating Earth Day

9:00 AM

Celebrating Earth Day – Jewelry Makers Style
by Charlene Gary

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 and is considered the birth of the modern environmental movement, and put environmental concerns at the forefront of the American consciousness.

Since that time, Earth Day has grown into an international event, bringing awareness to the impact that humans have upon the earth. From the large and obvious to the small and mundane, every action we take, whether we realize it or not, has an impact upon the earth. As artists, I like to think that we are good stewards of the earth, since that is where so many of us get our inspiration. I want to keep this inspiration going, so I do what I can to minimize the impact I have on the earth.

My mother is an old hippie, so we were raised to recycle and reuse whatever we could. I still do that to this day, and not just for Earth Day. For example; those rubber finger ends that I remember my teachers using to turn pages? The same ones that are used in offices today? I use those to hold on to my wire when I’m working with it on the bench. It helps to protect my fingers, and it has a good grip too. I used an old wire hanger to fashion something to hang my tools nearby on my bench. I use the tissue paper from old sewing patterns to wrap my jewelry in for shipping, and if it’s a larger package, I use shredded paper instead of bubble wrap.

In my jewelry work, I try to use materials that use the least amount of processing, or have caused the least amount of harm to any being or thing. As much as I like leather cording, for its strength, durability, and beauty, I sometimes have a difficult time reconciling using it, due to where it comes from, and the chemicals used in manufacturing. I’ve had good luck using cotton cording in my work, along with hemp cord. I’ve used rubber cording in the past, but considering where that comes from, and it doesn’t degrade, I’m not using it much anymore. I’ve also found a homemade solution for jewelry pickle using table salt and vinegar that works pretty well.

There are some large jeweler suppliers that offer post-consumer content reclaimed silver, and others that offer environmentally responsible refining of your scrap metal. These are welcome options for those who want to minimize their carbon foot print, and align their green practices to their jewelry work. I’ve also discovered an ethical metalsmiths organization, a site for jewelers for social and environmental responsibility. A quick search through twitter comes up with a full listing of other ethical, environmental, and socially responsible people, companies, groups, and organizations. I like company like that.

My latest adventure into recycling was close to home, and kind of fun. Recently my husband did some rewiring in our house, and he had some leftover copper wire. Instead of sending it to the recycling center, I stripped the plastic coating off the copper wire, cut the wire into pieces of a certain length, and soldered them into jump rings. Using my rubber fingers to hold the jump rings still, I hammered them for texture, and fashioned them into bracelets.

Besides shopping the independent stores in town, my husband and I shop the regular farmers markets in the area, and attend several craft fairs during the year to support our local artists. Following earth friendly makers, whether local or national is so much fun for me. They are so inspiring, entertaining, and informative.

This certainly is not an exhaustive list of green practices or ideas, and not everything will work for everyone. We all have our preferences and habits, and make our choices based on those preferences and habits. But if it is possible to change one habit so that it still works, and is also less harmful to the environment, not just for Earth Day, but for every day, then that’s a good thing. One of my favorite quotes comes from Gandhi:

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
Happy Earth Day

Blog contributor Thomas Soles is the Trade Show Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. His favorite stones are Lapis and Pietersite. His favorite hobby is day dreaming. And his favorite mustache is Tom Selleck's. As you can see, he has a healthy (or possibly unhealthy) sense of humor. You can write to him at

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1 fabulous thoughts ...

  1. Great post. I love the little tidbit about the copper wire. What a great idea.


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