Sundrop Jewelry News

Recycling Our Silver Scraps
January 10 2008

After 3 years in business, we finally recycled our silver scraps. Not that we used to throw them away, it just took us that long to accumulate enough scraps (tag ends of wire, bent ear hooks, botched wrappings, tarnished pieces, various failed experiments, etc.) to be worth sending in for recycling.      How much scrap did we produce in 3 years? 9.19 ounces. I could easily hold it all in my cupped hands. We mailed our scraps to Rio Grande, our supplier of jewelry findings and where we got all our silver in the first place. Rio Grande offers...

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Publicity? Neat!
December 14 2007

So about a month ago I start getting a bunch of email from Australia. Turns out we were mentioned in a magazine there (thanks!).Today I got another email, we are on the front page of the ENN! Thanks again! As a child, did you ever use a magnifying glass to barbeque ants? Sizzle flies? Burn leaves? Don't worry, we won't tell. Someone who may fall into this category has found an ingenious way to harness the sun's power to make jewelry. No, not using the latest thin-film solar innovation. No, they've what appears to be a giant magnifying glass, capable...

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Solar Energy Process - melting with a giant magnifying glass
April 22 2007

Now for the fun part. Once we get all these materials to our studio (a.k.a. my house), what happens to them? single-color sundrop The process is a bit different for single-color and multi-color sundrops. So I'll start with the plain ones. First step: Cut glass into strips. Very little waste in this step. Second step: Melt glass into drops using the giant magnifying lens. Me working at the lens I melt glass with a giant fresnel lens. 41x31 inches, it's about 1270 square inches in area (0.82 square meters). Which means, at 1.4kW/square meter, about 1.1 kilowatts of energy are...

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Silver's Environmental Impact
April 14 2007

Our ongoing investigation into the environmental impact of running a business.  Today, we're looking at the environmental impact of silver.  Find the rest of the series here. About 15% of a pair of earrings is silver - in the form of ear hooks and wire. And this is the thing I've been most worried about in terms of environmental impact. Over the past couple years I've been very involved trying to fight a mining proposal in Alaska: Pebble Mine. This has led me to learn all sorts of frightening things about the mining industry's track record and impact on the...

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Rubber
April 14 2007

This blog's been empty for a bit. But now I'm back in town after a few weeks in Alaska testing out winter gear for an upcoming 4,000 mile environmental expedition. The last ingredient in a pair of Sundrop Earrings is rubber. We put little rubber ear nuts on the backs of the french ear wires. Partly to hold them on the card for display and shipping, and partly to prevent people from losing the earrings wearing them. Of course, people often don't remember to use them, so we end up fairly often re-matching a mate to someone's lost earring (something...

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Printing
March 15 2007

Ok, so this week I thought I'd talk about printing. But I've been incredibly busy with my other major project in life - an upcoming 4000 mile expedition and environmental advocacy project on the northern Pacific coast, so I haven't learned as much about printing as I'd like. Today, it'll be a pretty quick and dirty calculation. Ink The main thing I was able to find out was that soy-based inks are more environmentally friendly than petroleum-based inks, largely because they produce less Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are a hazard both to the environment and to the workers in...

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Paper's footprint
March 06 2007

A pair of sundrops earrings is a tiny product - only about three and a half grams. So the total impact of the raw materials in any one pair of earrings is pretty small - and a big part of it actually comes from the paper card the earrings sit on. Sundrop Jewelry card This card is basically packaging - the end customer probably throws it away immediately (or hopefully recycles it). But without it, we can't display the earrings in a store, or print the information about the cool solar process where people can see it. Paper is big...

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Carbon footprint of our glass (glass and shipping)
February 27 2007

Last week I talked about the impact of the glass industry in general. Today I'm going to get a little more specific. Bullseye Glass Some of our glass comes from recycled bottles, but most of it comes from the Bullseye Glass Company in Portland, Oregon. Bullseye Glass being made - from their website I emailed Bullseye about their energy usage and was pleased to find that not only were they super helpful, they were a few steps ahead of us in figuring out how to reduce their own carbon footprint and impact on the environment. The chemicals to color the...

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Glass and energy
February 20 2007

What is a pair of sundrops made of ? Well, a scientific scale and some quick calculations tell me that a pair of sundrop earrings weighs about 3.6 grams. Of that, 22% is glass (the sundrops), 15% is silver (wire wrapping and ear hooks), 4% is plastic (ear nuts), and 59% is paper (display cards). I never realized it was quite that much paper! But I'll have to get back to that later. Today, I'm going to talk a bit about glass. 22% glass, 15% silver,4% plastic, 59% paper We work mostly with colored sheet glass we buy from the...

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Digging into the environmental impact of an eco friendly jewelry company
February 14 2007

Sundrop Jewelry is an environmentally friendly, sustainable jewelry business, because we use solar energy to melt all our glass. Or so we like to think, anyway. But is that really true? We definitely do use solar energy to make all our beads, via a very cool giant magnifying glass. But what is the real environmental footprint of our jewelry? Sitting down to think about this, I realized that I know just about nothing about most of what goes into making a Sundrop. What is the impact of manufacturing the different raw materials? What are the costs of getting them here?...

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