When I was in grade school, we were taught that in order to be eco-friendly, we needed to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Our teachers told us that reducing what we used was the most effective way to help the environment, followed by reusing and recycling. That has always stuck with me, and I use this simple motto in my jewelry studio today

  • Using rags in the shop – I use cloth rags copiously in my studio, reducing the need for paper towels. My rags consist of old towels and my old clothes, cut into scraps.
  • Using chemicals in the shop sparingly –  Jewelers need to use a variety of chemicals in their shop, including mild acid to clean metal. I use chemicals very carefully to reduce environmental impact and take used chemicals (which contain heavy metals such as copper and silver) in for proper hazmat disposal. I also choose the mildest chemicals possible in my work.
  • Metal scrap – I reuse metal scrap to make small elements in my jewelry.
  • Containers – I reuse a variety of sizes and shapes of containers in my studio. A friend of mine uses a Hershey’s cocoa container to store her small files – how perfect is that?
  • Packaging materials – I reuse boxes, mailers, and bubble wrap when shipping.
  • Metal dust – I collect all of my silver and gold dust to send to a refinery. It’ll probably take me 20 years to collect enough to be worth sending in, but every little bit helps!

What practices do you use in your shop, home, or office to help the environment?