The first day of Spring is this month, which means melting snow will eventually be giving way to green grass. And St. Patrick’s Day, which means there will be little leprechauns giving away green beer… right? With all this green, I thought I’d mention the ways in which Cowboy’s Sweetheart has become more green, in an eco-friendly sense. First of all, did you know that80% of Americans believe they can make a positive difference by purchasing products from socially or environmentally responsible companies? I believe in the power of consumers to effect change through their choices. Chances are slim that I will ever be ecologically perfect, but I strive to make a positive difference. And I am always open to suggestions, since I am dedicated to learning more ways in which I can reduce my impact on the environment by minimizing my carbon bootprint. My studio is in a small, rustic cabin on Lefthand Creek near Gold Hill, Colorado, built almost completely out of recycled materials. I buy shares of wind-powered energy to offset the electricity used to power the studio. Because it is in a canyon, the passive solar potential is minimal, especially during the winter, but the studio has two, big sky-lights that make the most of what sunlight there is. I save and recycle all of my off-cuts and scrap metal from making jewelry, and I use recycled precious metals. Mining metals, especially gold, is extremely hard on the environment. So, most of my jewelry is made with Sterling silver, though recycled gold is readily available. This is good news since some gold mines store tailings—highly acidic toxic waste—in dammed reservoirs that can leak, and sometimes they dump these tailings right into a nearby river, lake or ocean. The cyanide used to extract gold from ore is highly toxic and kills nearby fish and wildlife. Mercury and other heavy metals are also byproducts of gold mining. Then there’s the smelting process. Despite advances in technology, smelting remains a huge air polluter, with emissions including lead, large particulates that contribute to smog, and acid rain-producing sulfur and nitrogen oxides (nitrous oxide is also a greenhouse gas). Unethical treatment of workers is a big problem in diamond mining. Generally, I steer away from them, or try to encourage synthetic, or ethically-sourced, or recycled diamonds. Also, I use eco-friendly packaging.
Basically, I just like to make stuff. I simply love what I do and I love where I do it. I hope to nurture that sustainability. Anyway, it turns out I happen to know a lot of other people who like to make stuff and who strive to make thoughtful choices, too. We creative types tend to flock together. There will be a whole weekend dedicated to creativity, called The Makerie, in Boulder from April 7th – 10th, and I encourage you to check it out. Even if you don’t participate in the workshops, there will be a market open to the public for those who appreciate fine craft. It will be a presentation and celebration of handmade goods, and Cowboy’s Sweetheart will be there. Here is an article about the birth of The Makerie, the inspiration for the creative retreat, and a blurb about the market. If you are interested in taking a jewelry making class, I would suggest taking either this one or this one, taught by two of my favorite people.
So, I hope you’ll bring your crafty little self over and say hello!
Amy Fortunato (Boss Lady)