Throughout my career I have always used silver but I became concerned by the environmental impact of mining metal. The extraction techniques strip the surface soil and using chemicals can cause soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and contamination of soil, and both ground and surface water. This led me to using 100% recycled silver when I set up my business in 2011 as I wanted to minimise the impact of my practice.
In 2014 I started to add colour to my jewellery using bio resin made of sunflower seed oil. This has unfortunately been discontinued and I’m currently researching and experimenting with alternatives to find a more environmentally friendly resin to use in my work.
One of my favourite pieces that I’ve made using a combination of recycled silver and resin is a set of magnetic reversible brooches that I created for The Handmade by Machines exhibition at The Lighthouse in 2015. Working on pieces for exhibitions allows me to be more experimental and work on a larger scale. I really enjoyed making these pieces and they were a big influence on my current collection.
I incorporate eco-conscious thinking at every stage of my process. As well as using 100% recycled silver, I try to use fewer chemicals at the bench and choose less toxic alternatives whenever I can. My gift boxes are made from recycled card and hand-stamped with my logo. I also use green business cards printed on recycled paper.
This way of working matches my values and it resonates with my customers looking for more sustainable products. I think that more and more people are aware of environmental issues and try to be mindful of this when making purchases. Being able to provide a more environmentally friendly option is one of the best things about being a green maker.
Image credit: Gabriela Silveira
Since I started going green there is more information available to makers. I have found Ute Decker’s website a great resource as she shares her research, links on ethical jewellery practices and suppliers.
I currently combine making with teaching jewellery making evening and weekend classes. I always try to introduce students to eco-friendly sources and broaden their understanding of the issues. I hope that with raised awareness that more craft makers start to go green for a brighter and more sustainable future.
Discover Ruth Hollywood’s full range of eco-conscious jewellery.
Next in the Make it Green series is Four Reasons To Consider Sustainability As A Maker…
Join Green Crafts Initiative today and start making Scotland that little bit greener. The Green Crafts Initiative is a nationwide accreditation scheme created by Creative Carbon Scotland & Craft Scotland. It is designed to provide Scottish-based makers and arts organisations with the advice, support and tools they need.