by Linda Guzik.
The terms “consumerism” and “green” often don’t go hand in hand, so what’s an Eco-girl like me to do when she actively engages in a business that promotes consumption?
I have spent many a night pondering this very thought.
Treading lightly on this planet is extremely important to me.
I preach to my kids and friends and practically anyone who will listen about the importance of being “green”. I am the founder of an environmental awareness club at my kids’ school that aims to help children learn about our planet and how their behaviors can really make an impact.
Yet here I am, engaging in a business that can be less than kind to the planet.
Does that make me a hypocrite? I hope not.
I try to engage in business choices in keeping with my green lifestyle philosophies.
Making Greener Choices
for Jewelry Components
I don’t use diamonds in my designs (two words: “Blood Diamond”!), and my use of precious metals amounts to the occasional sterling chain and clasp, as well as sterling and 14k gold plated earring wires.
I do like natural elements like pearls and shells and semi-precious gemstones, and hope to one day be in a position where I can afford to buy such items from dealers who acquire them responsibly and sustainably, and whose workers are paid a Fair Trade Wage.
I also use a lot of glass in my designs, and while I cannot proclaim glass to be perfectly green, it’s a little more earth-friendly in that it doesn’t have to be mined in quite the same way as gemstones or precious metals. However, it does take lots of energy to produce glass.
Recycled glass beads are really the way to go, but choices can often be limited and expensive. I do use some recycled glass in my designs and have pledged to make it more of a staple as my business continues to grow.
So what can I effectively do right now to make my small business greener without expending dollars that I just don’t have?
Well, it’s actually easier than you might think. Being “green” isn’t necessarily about making big giant changes in one’s lifestyle or investing in expensive things like solar panels to power your shop or house. The term “green”, at its very core, means living life simply.
Going Green Like Grandma
Think about how your Grandmother used to live. She probably bought only what she needed, used what she had and didn’t throw a single thing away until someone forced her to!
When I was young, we joked about how my Grandmother was such a pack rat. Her tiny place was packed to the gills with stuff she couldn’t bear to part with. She scoured flea markets for recycled gifts and never wrapped those gifts in anything but the Sunday comics.
My Grandmother was someone who could take a nickel and somehow squeeze a quarter out it! Was she cheap? Thirty years ago, I would have said, “Hell, yes!” But looking back on it now, I think my Grandmother was just way ahead of her time.
That girl was green and I bet your Grandma was just like her!
So think about your Grandma as you run your jewelry business.
Keep Those Three R’s in Mind:
- Reduce your consumption levels. Try to buy only the things that you really need for your designs.
- Reuse what you can, especially the packaging! Beads, crimps, clasps, tools, you name it – everything comes packaged, and all does not have to be wasted. Those empty cellophane baggies can be used again for storage or for your own shop’s packaging, as can any bubble wrap, tissue paper and cardboard boxes you might acquire on your supply runs.
- Recycle every last little bit you can, even your beading supplies. I collect all my reject beads – the ones with slight imperfections I can’t use in my own designs – and “recycle” them to my friend’s eight year old daughter, who loves to make her own jewelry. I even give her little bits of beading wire that are too small for my needs in an effort to keep them out of the trash.
Small Efforts Add Up
Am I making a huge impact with my green jewelry business choices? Probably not.
Am I making some impact? You betcha! Those small steps are a wonderful jumping off point for us all.
I know my Grandma would be proud!
Author Linda Guzik’s LinnyGirl Designs features handmade jewelry that is as “you-nique” as you! From her Murano glass inspired Artsy Girl Collection, to her more organic Earthy Girl gemstone collection, teen-inspired Funky Girl Collection (perfect for the young at heart, too!), and soon-to-launch eco-friendly Green Girl Collection, Linda has something for everyone. LinnyGirl Designs – What kind of girl are you?