Sundrop Jewelry News

Recycled Glass – pick your favorite liquor
April 09 2010

One of the most common questions we get is, “Is the glass recycled?” Although it turns out that the glass has a smaller environmental impact than other materials in a pair of earrings, I certainly understand how recycled glass provides a more intuitive feeling of environmental consciousness than being able to say that they came on a smaller, recycled paper card, for example.Invariably the next question is “Which colors are recycled, and what glass do you use?” We use Bombay Sapphire Gin bottles to make our ‘Water’ color Sundrops Skyy Vodka bottles turn into ‘Cobalt’ Sundrops Various screw-top beer bottles are used...

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What's Not In a Pair of Earrings
March 08 2010

Other Materials So far, we’ve concentrated on the impact of making a pair of Simple Earrings and getting them to the final customer – hopefully you! ;) That’s reasonable, given that these earrings are by far our most popular items. However, other pieces of jewelry contain some additional materials we haven’t yet discussed. Necklace Chains Given that we know the silver in our earrings is more wasteful than any other component (paper, glass, printing or rubber), necklace chains are the elephant in the room. There are 0.54 grams of silver in a pair of Simple Earrings, but the 18″ (un-recycled) silver...

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Complying with CA's Prop 65
February 09 2010

 Example of a Prop 65 warning label Recently, a California store expressed interest in carrying Sundrops if we could say our jewelry complies with the state’s Proposition 65 (the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986). Prop 65 lists twenty-one pages of chemicals known to cause cancer, and is the reason for the tags you sometimes see on appliance cords and many other things. The Good News Lead was the easy one; most items are labeled if they contain lead. Figuring out whether any of the other myriad of proscribed chemicals were present was much more difficult. I spent...

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The Environmental Impact of Shipping
January 18 2010

With the rush on our webstore from the recent New York Times article, I figured it was a good time to update our report on the impact of shipping Sundrops. Retail Boxes We recently bought new boxes for mailing our webstore orders. Two years ago our 200# white corrugated boxes had no recycled content – now they’re 45% recycled! Also, we decided that we didn’t need the boxes to be quite as large, so we went with 4″x4″x2″ instead of 6″x4″x2″, shaving slightly more than half an ounce from their shipping weight. The Environmental Defense Fund paper calculator was helpful...

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Recycled Silver - Now Available!
January 04 2010

  ...Well, some recycled silver is available. Our primary supplier of jewelry findings, Rio Grande, now sells recycled silver wire in all three gauges we use. After much estimating, calculation, and conversion (thank you to my high school chemistry teacher for stoichiometry!), I determined that of the 15% (by weight) of a pair of carded earrings that is silver, 0.24 grams is silver wire. The other 0.3 grams is the ear hooks, which unfortunately are not yet available recycled. Erin's original post on the impact of un-recycled silver found that silver uses three times as much energy (BTU's) and emits...

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Paper and Printing: An Update
December 21 2009

Back to analyzing the environmental impact of Sundrop Jewelry... Our old jewelry cards Erin's orignal post about paper calculated our impact using the Environmental Defense's Paper Calculator. Our original cards were nothing special in terms of environmental friendliness, so we used the default national averages for paper (pulp composition, bleaching process, etc.). Doing the same calculation today gave me slightly lower numbers than Erin reported - the national average is improving! Our new, improved, better-than-ever jewelry cards When the time came to order new cards, we did some serious research and ordered something well-nigh perfect: a card half the size...

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Sundrops featured in the Star Tribune
May 13 2009

Sundrop Jewelry was featured in the Star Tribune today! We'd like to welcome everyone visiting for the first time.Enjoy! Here's a short excerpt: How did a paleontologist, a writer/environmental activist, a softwear designer and a geologist end up running a jewelry business? Well, it all started, as these things so often do, with fire...Headquarters for Sundrop Jewelry is the home of Shaun and Tawny Reynolds in a working-class neighborhood of northeast Minneapolis, where even in the dead of a Minnesota winter Tawny Reynolds was out back cooking up some jewelry. "A few months ago, I was out in 10-below weather...

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Fresnel lenses are fun!
April 11 2009

It looks like the folks over at Google bought themselves a lens. I have to admit. I've never tried making popcorn with ours.

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Environmental Impact of Shipping Sundrops
January 14 2009

Ever since Hig and Erin took off on their trek to Alaska (and even now they're back) we've been remiss in addressing our company's ecological footprint. So, here's the dirt on shipping Sundrop Jewelry. Wholesale The vast majority of our business is wholesale to small retail stores, who generally order in (small) bulk: 30 pieces of jewelry is probably average. We use the free USPS Priotity Boxes for these orders.The nice thing is that in June they received Cradle to Cradle Silver Certification for their shipping supplies.Although they've boasted about their recycled content in a number of press releases it...

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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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