Do You Bead Green?

Jun 15, 2009

Do You Bead Green?

In the Summer 2009 issue of Stringing, we present an article about eco-conscious beading, Bead Green: New Earth-Friendly Beading Supplies. In the article,

author Melaina Juntti writes, “Nowadays many of us think critically about how our lifestyles and hobbies affect the planet and, coupled with a not-so-sweet economy, we carefully consider each and every product before we purchase.” She then goes on to mention a handful of cool, new eco-friendly beading materials: corn-cob pendants, recycled bottle cap beads, and heavy metal-free beading wire, to name a few.



Let the Discussion Begin

Now, I must admit that I was hesitant to assign this feature. I was convinced it was a good topic for Stringing;

however, I was aware that:

1.  Some people are just plain sick of “green” speak.

2.  Claiming that this or that is eco-friendly can be controversial—one person might say that a recycled-glass bead is eco-friendly because it is made from recycled materials (recycle, reuse, remake, right?), while another may dispute that statement, citing the pollution caused by transporting said bead to the market.

What is one to do? Well, we decided to broach the topic with a fun and informative, not academic or self-righteous, tone and a goal of introducing readers to products that were conceived with the noble purpose of doing the planet a favor. My hope is that this will spark a bigger conversation about “green” beading products.

To learn more about eco-friendly beading and to be inspired by more than 80 colorful, summer-ready jewelry designs, buy the Summer 2009 issue of Stringing in the Interweave Store or subscribe to Stringing today!

Share Your Views

Do you have another eco-friendly beading product you’d like to tell other readers about? What steps do you take to bead green? Share your views on eco-friendly beading on Stringing’s forum.

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atelierbeads wrote
on Jun 15, 2009 10:57 AM
I make rosaries and prayer beads as well as jewelry, and I've found that people like my environmentally friendly rosaries. Here are some of the things I use: 1) Tagua or "vegetable ivory" looks so close to genuine ivory that you can hardly tell the difference. It's completely renewable. Its use serves a double purpose: First, elephants don't have to be sacrificed or hounded any closer to extinction; and Second, the people in Central and Latin American who harvest the tagua nuts and fabricate the beads can earn a living wage by doing so. It is tough and durable enough that shirt buttons were once made from it. 2) Recycled glass from Ghana and Indonesia: Makes gorgeous rosaries and prayer beads in the smaller sizes. I string the beads on manmade leather for an earthy effect. Provides employment for many people and re-uses even the tiniest scraps of valuable and expensive glass. 3) Olive wood: Christians have quite an attachment to olive wood in their prayer beads. It is important to locate a source for olive wood that uses only the prunings and trimmings from these trees, some of which can grow to be 2,000 years old or more. The trees have to be pruned and freed of their sucker shoots anyway in order to remain fruitful, so this wood is renewable. 4) Carabao or Water Buffalo horn: These very large animals shed their horns once each year, and the horn material can be made into beads and all sorts of other objects. By locating a source that sells products made from water buffalo horn, you can have beautiful beads without causing any suffering to the animals. My customers who desire to practice good stewardship of the Earth love the rosaries made from these materials and are always interested in hearing about their origins.
SusS wrote
on Jun 15, 2009 7:51 PM
Well, I'm one of those sick to death of green speech. Since many acclaimed scientists of all backgrounds seriously question the propagandized science behind the green movement, I find my my metron of power in being a responsible adult. I honor my world by not buying anything from China or other countries which use slave labor in their industries. I watched an interview given by a young Chinese girl who'd managed to receive asylum in the US. She had been a slave used in making Christmas lights, which now make her, literally, physically ill to see. Buy American-made and "far market".! It limits choices, but carries no guilt about being a "consumer".
OklaShop wrote
on Jun 15, 2009 8:51 PM
Um... I think you have a typo in the article - Steel is not a heavy metal (lead, arsenic, and mercury are heavy metals), and, according to the SoftFlex website, their Extreme Wire IS made with stainless steel.
AGJ wrote
on Jun 15, 2009 11:24 PM
One of my favorite jewelry pieces is a purchased necklace of recycled glass and bamboo beads with a bit of driftwood as a focal. I welcome the conversation, not only for the 'consciousness raising' but also for information on sources for some of these beadutiful (not a typo) materials. Hey, we're changing the world, one bead at a time!
Momtat wrote
on Jun 16, 2009 5:30 AM
Do i bead green? Well, I must admit that I don't really pay attention to whether a product is green or not. I like vintage beads and jewelry and try to use whatever vintage articles I can find. As to the green movement. I do believe that we are responsible for taking care of the earth that God has given us, and that "man" is responsible for reoprehensible things done to our planet. But, I also feel that the Green movement is also doing reprehensible things for the name of the Green god. The ad in the newsletter for the steel free wire greatly offended me with the comments of the steel process and the "huge carbvon footprint" steel making contributes. This carbon stuff is going way overboard!! Hello, we millions of humans exhale carbon with every breath. Are we going to start regulating that, too? Carbon is in every facet of life and I'm tired of it being made the "bad" molecule. We should be focusing on the Mercury, lead, copper and other heavy metals that can truly poison and destroy our enviornment and our bodies and leave carbon, a really USEFUL molecule alone. There are other really scary things out therre that are being ignored to prop up this carbon footprint gargabe. Sorry for my rant, it's just that no one ever things about it or considers the thousands of people that are put out of work when people start to denegrate an industry, like steel. I live in the steel belt which has been devestated by the loss of the steel industry, and has never fully recovered. People need to think before they speek or decide policy impacting other people!
on Jun 16, 2009 9:49 PM
My way of beading green is choosing the best materials I can find. I don't consider materials that wear out quickly, like silver-plate or like paper beads, to be eco-friendly. (It kills me when people sell their premium lampwork beads with crappy silver-plate that I can only give to a school for crafting or toss out). I do add the beads I can't use to the boxes I send to a friend who teaches in a village where they'd would get to see any fancy materials. Buying in greater bulk and cutting down on packaging is green too. And if you want bottled water while you're beading, drink out of a bottle you already own instead of paying for all those plastic bottles that end up in land fills. Local products are also a good way to stay green. I use moose antler for buttons that I get from hunters I know, and walrus ivory scraps from the indigenous peoples' traditional uses. I even have teeth (including from found skulls) that I have made into pendants with a peyote bezel. So you see, some ways to bead green are not at all obvious. Tina
on Jun 30, 2009 4:45 PM
Beading "Green" should not just be about the materials that go into any particular bead. Also considered must be the labor force, work conditions, and the raw energy that produced that bead. I continuously see ads for beads and strings of beads that are hand made which cost less than one single dollar. Does anyone really believe that the person who made the object is making a living wage? On energy--I see lampwork beads that sell for a few dollars for a pound. Hill Tribe silver beads and findings come close to what would be a living wage for these people, but the cheap energy used to produce those things is depleting energy that someone, somewhere is going to expewrience a cold winter, just because someone likes Thai silver (and the same goes for other beads) These "arguements" are not just aimed at "beaders" or craftspeople, but to all that is not necessary in our world. I have a computer and internet access (obviously) and am guilty of these things I am talking about. In Australia, to run a computer for a year, there is almost a TON of COAL that must be burned, depleting not only natural resources but adding to tons of carbon in our air. But, will we keep on beading--of course we will, as well as use our computers to access information and sources on beading, and buying beads that someone has slaved over in order to eek out a living, such that it might be. It really is no different than living in hte suburbs and driving 60 miles back and forth to work.------ Have to stop here. I could go on, but there is no sense in it if I continue to use the things I have written about, after all, isn't it progress that affords us of these things.--Just consider what goes into the making of the beads and other products you buy.
richcm wrote
on Nov 7, 2010 9:36 AM

Interesting fact silver made in Thailand is only made in villages outside of the main cities by Hilltribe families. Most patterns have been in there family for many years and can only be made by large order. There are no stores or one central place to purchase Hilltribe silver in variety  other than from the large wholesale shops in the city. Mondays and Fridays are the days families will bring their goods to the main shops for sale and to pick up new orders. A trip to a silver village is a real eye opener to see how families work together to make beautiful silver pieces of art. All Handmade.