Why I use eco-friendly metals
Becoming an ethical Silversmith by using Argentium Silver (almost) exclusively and “greening” up my studio practices by switching any toxic chemicals to non-harmful ones, has been a direct result of the many years of research in my industry. I was unaware when I became a fine jeweller of the detrimental impacts both the mining industry and the processing of metals like silver and gold, were doing to the environment. Not to mention the use of unsafe child labour in some countries. My conscience simply couldn’t take it. We have all by now heard about the affects of “blood diamonds” - but few of us are aware that the silver and gold mining industry can also be as detrimental. I’ve changed my practices and provide information to those that are concerned with these issues.
The wonderful thing about Argentium Silver - besides the fact that it is an amazing metal to work with - is the resources that come with it. Here, you can quickly find out about why you too should consider Argentium as your metal of choice.
Where I purchase my metals:
My Argentium Silver comes from the company Rio Grande in New Mexico USA. Their ideology lines up with my own; doing what you can to make a difference while making art.
Rio depends heavily on the natural environment for the raw materials our business needs. We believe this dependence carries a responsibility to be a good steward of these resources, and we take that responsibility seriously. In a variety of ways, we strive to minimize any negative impact to the environment and its resources, and we actively work to have a positive influence on the world around us. In doing so, and by passing along this information, we also help our customers be mindful of where their materials come from, and how they can in turn minimize their own environmental footprints to the extent they wish.
Sustainability and Responsibility:
What does Sustainable mean to Rio Grande?
It is a social pact with future generations. Sustainable means meeting our present needs without compromising the needs of our children.
How is Rio Grande going about accomplishing that?
In part by offering products to you that are made from materials that are recycled/recovered or made from renewable materials. Another is to encourage manufacturing processes that minimize environmental impacts. With our Findings and Metals, most products are made with reclaimed/recycled metal or from third party certified, ethically mined metal. Many of the other products are also likely made primarily or exclusively with recycled metal, we just haven't yet established this with certainty.
How is Rio Grande Responsible?
In 2014 Rio Grande became an official member of the Responsible Jewelry Council. The Council conducts regular third-party audits to certify that the metals we sell are either recycled (the majority of our offerings) or sourced from mines that adhere to responsible practices.
When you buy your metals from Rio, you can rest assured that they have had as small an environmental and social impact as possible.
And still one more reason I love this company and use their products as much as possible…even their facilities have gone “green”!
Solar Panels Powered by the Sun…
Almost everything requiring electricity at Rio Grande—from jewelry making and manufacturing equipment to lights and computers—is powered by the sun, and we're basking in the wonder of it all. How did we get here?
When we installed almost five acres of solar panels at Rio Grande's facility in New Mexico, we were the first system in the state able to generate one megawatt of energy at peak output. Mega-what? Megawatt! All that sunlight adds up to more than 1.6 million kilowatt hours' worth of electricity each year. That's leaving a lot of watts at the electric company that others can use!
Like most ideas, this one began as a flicker of a possibility. It soon developed into a full-fledged effort to install more than 5000 locally-made solar panels atop the Rio parking lot—that's the largest commercial solar array in New Mexico!
This forward thinking leads to increased efficiency and stable energy costs, while filling the need to find renewable fuel sources. It's wonderful to be a part of the solution and to use this abundant natural resource to power our business—and yours.
Why do I purchase outside of Canada?
It’s simple really; I have yet to find any company in Canada that can match the ethical, sustainable and responsible ideologies as Rio Grande. Until such time as a supplier of this magnitude is available in Canada (or closer to home in general), I believe the carbon footprint I develop by shipping it to me is justified by the benefits. To offset as much as possible, I order large quantities at a time so I ship less often.