On the Issue of Sustainability...

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.
Well, realistically, this subject has been on my mind for years. 
You see, my chosen discipline is one that has a history of intruding and harming not only the earth but countless people and animals. A bit morbid, right? Or simply realistic.
All metal has to be mined originally. I now only use recycled silver, and am working on finding a source for copper that is more sustainable. 
But there are these things that I love, that tear at my heart strings, that bring color into our lives.

Oh, the stones!

Stones in all shapes, sizes and colors. I love them and have since I was a child. But now, when I look at that gorgeous Ocean Jasper, or Drusy, or Chalcedony that I really want to buy, I can't help but think..."where did that come from? Did mining it harm the ocean's ecosystem? What animals were living on/around it?" And it goes on like that. There are a few stone cutters who I buy stones from, and some of those stones I know the origins of, but not all.

So here are my solutions that I can see:

1. Source recycled metals (Silver, check. Gold, check. Copper, ?)
2. Research the origins of stones, and ask stone dealers what they know, before purchasing. There are a few sources that I know of already.
3. Use vintage stones and glass in place of mined stones.
4. Use more alternative materials--wood, fabric, plastics, etc.

What do you think about this issue of sustainability in the arts? If you are an artist, do you do anything to make your own practice more eco friendly and sustainable?



  1. Hi Catherine...this is a sentiment that has weighed heavily in my own heart for all the years I have been 'jewel--ing"...more than anything, I abhor the holes ripped in the earth for the sake of a shiny-pretty...for the most part, I have not used stones in my work in just about forever...its a tough call, as customers love them, and they are indeed remarkable!....I don't any answers for you, but I purchase carbon offset credits from Native Energy for the small amounts of electricity I use, of course recycled metals only ( did that one way before it was 'in vogue' , and on the rare occasions that I do use a stone, it is usually pulled out of something that already exists...I have to say in all honesty I even occasionally think about changing mediums....to something that does not disrupt nature so seriously....its a conundrum for sure!

  2. It's such a difficult subject, as a student we are encouraged to think about sustainable practice, and in fact we are to study a whole module on it next year. I've often asked the question "in the craft world, is complete sustainable practice possible? sadly it appears that the answer comes back as no. I think the best we can do is try to make small changes in our own practices, such as stopping the use of stones in our work, using recycled metal. I recently attended a class with Lindsey Mann, using aluminium, and I have to say I've fallen in love with this material, yes it still has to be mined, but it is in more abundance than precious metals. I think using alternative materials not only helps to make us more sustainable, but also makes us more creative and exploitative. If we can just get the buying public on the side of alternative materials, (I know it is beginning to happen), then this will take us a step closer to preserving the Earth.


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