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first steps to green our craft practice

ute decker, updated august 2014         

whether we work in ceramics, textiles, jewellery, glass or run an arts organization - below are 5 easy steps to make the way we work and our creations more sustainable.

when i started as a studio-jeweller in 2009 it was a major time-consuming challenge to find practical information on how to work in a sustainable manner.  so on my website i started sharing my research, suppliers and whatever useful information i have found on the way.

running an ethical business extends further than just the sourcing of materials and suppliers, it’s also about making mindful choices on what we create, how we run our office, the processes and chemicals we use, the packaging we use  – it about looking at our entire practice.  today it has become so much easier to do the right thing. it is not about becoming perfect in one day - going a little greener doesn't’t have to be hard work or involve massive changes in your studio. there are lots of small chances you can consider.

below are 5 of the easiest steps that make a big difference. with these links you can go greener in a day or two or alternatively put one step in your diary for each week and your business will be a lot greener in no time.

1. energy

one of the easiest and effective ways of to reduce our carbon footprint is to utilize renewable energy sources.

most providers offer a ‘green’ tariff, if you would like a supplier who guarantees 100% renewable -  no coal, no nuclear, no fracking – then www.goodenergy.co.uk -  comes out best in the 2013 ethical consumer  reportswitching energy supplier is  quick and easy. 

 

2. printing

when printing postcards or flyers 100% fsc papers is the minimum. ideally look for post consumer waste paper stock and vegetable inks.  avoid lamination as well uv varnishes to make sure our lovely postcards are not only recycled but also recyclable. while embossing & debossing are an elegant alternative to foil blocking.

 

for great tips on eco-friendly print design and a list of printers around the uk, i have found http://www.lovelyasatree.com a fabulous resource also with links to companies like http://www.greenhousegraphics.co.uk who supply sustainable large format display systems such as printed banner stands and pop up stands.  creative review has a handy summary on designing a print job for  low impact.

 

3. packaging

as with postcards, we should avoid lamination and uv varnishes as they make the boxes un-recyclable.  for a  huge range of recycled jewellery boxes, gift boxes, recycled presentation boxes, gift bags, recycled carrier bags, acid free tissue papers, non acetate ribbons and other recycled gift packaging plus a bespoke service -  the best place you can go are the dragon’s den winners   http://www.tinyboxcompany.co.uk.

 

4. website

our websites will be hosted on server farms that use up vast amounts of energy to run – it is estimated that this infrastructure consumes 50% more energy than the global aviation industry!

look for a ‘green’ hosting company that only uses renewable energy sources – carbon offsetting is not enough. companies that have good reviews include hostpapa and ipage, but there are hundreds more to choose from. i will be changing from a green us-based host to one with their data centre in the uk  - i am still doing my research and shall  share this  on my website later this year. and if you would like to go a step further, you can follow the recommendations published in the newest report by the ethical consumer magazine on the internet including guides to web browsers, search engines, social networks & email providers.

 

5. office & general

a great way to save lots of money is to use re-manufactured printer cartridges and you might also want to consider saving money on printing by following these simple suggestions. 

and finally while everything seems to be labeled ‘eco’ these days –  to find out which products are truly economical to run and sustainably produced – the ethical consumer magazine – www.ethicalconsumer.org.uk - has a wealth of  reviews and ethical buyer guides ranging from energy, telephones, broadband, cleaning products, light bulbs to ethical finance. their website is always my first port of call.

 

 

what’s next:

 

the previous  seminar was fully booked... thus pioneer and the most knowledgeable person in all things ethical jewellery greg valerio and myself, ute decker will be running again our in-depth 4-hour

seminar

ethical jewellery practice


7 february 2015
city lit, london
11 - 4 pm, £ 32
for more information and to enrol, please visit  http://www.citylit.ac.uk

 

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in the meantime

specifically for jewellers I have compiled information on sustainable bench practices, recycled and fairtrade/fairmined gold and silver, sourcing of gemstones, alternative non-toxic studio chemicals :

you can find lot’s of tips & suppliers at:
http://www.utedecker.com/ethical_jewellery.html

with updates on
www.facebook.com/utedecker

plus i always love hearing of  further 'green' suggestions
 

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take part in raising awareness

share with others and your clients. keywords are transparency & tracebility & communication. share this information on facebook, with fellow jewellers, fellow students and/or your tutors. we are all time poor with a long to-do list - make it easy for others by providing easy to implement alternatives, i.e. give your tutor a print-out of the non-toxic pickle fact sheet and ask once a month when the change from toxic to non-toxic pickle will be implemented...

lobby suppliers

each time you buy anything from a suppliers, do ask whether they have a more ethical alternative, if not, when they are thinking of offering such alternatives. ask again and again. let them know what you need. the more of us that ask, the more suppliers become aware of the business case for supplying ethical materials.

 

and finally my top tips for designer-makers interested in setting up an ethical business:

 

  • Mindfulness

  • Perseverance and persistence

  • Communication

  • Sharing of information

  • Integrity

  • A passion for what you do

 

 

 

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ute decker,