Glass is a versatile and beautiful material to use in many facets of our lives. But the process of making new glass is not at all environmentally friendly. The initial crushing and grinding of the compounds sends particulates of metals, chemicals, acids, and dust into the air, surrounding soil and ground water. The need for extremely high temperature furnaces to melt the mixture of substances is very energy intensive. And the processes emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide and other air-polluting compounds like nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulates.
The Good News
Glass is 100% recyclable and can be reused to make a variety of objects. For every ton that is recycled, more than a ton of raw materials needed to create new is saved. Using cullet, or recycled pieces, takes 40% less energy than making new glass, as cullet melts at a much lower temperature. It also eliminates the million year wait for each bottle or jar ending life in a landfill to breakdown.
Jewelry Addicts Have Eco Solution
If you are a jewelry fashion aficionado you will agree that recycling at its best is the use of recycled glass for jewelry making. The idea is simple: take trash that will take a million years to break down in a landfill and turn it into exquisite pieces of wearable art. The process of using recycled glass for jewelry is eco aware chic. Using old windows, drink bottles, dishes, cups, and jars the material is turned into cullet. In one studio an artist cuts the glass, assembles the pieces into a design, than fires it in a kiln to fuse the pieces together creating a unique design. Another artist uses a three foot tall magnifying glass to focus sunlight (3,000 degrees!) to melt the glass. The molten glass naturally forms an elegant droplet shape.
Artists Create the Design
Each artist uses different types of recycled glass and process in creating their own unique design. The following list gives you some idea of these creative processes.
- Most readily noticed is Brand Glass Jewelry. This simply is re-using branded bottles and jars – like soda, beer, wine, and liquor bottles – working the glass pieces into different pieces of jewelry.
- One very interesting type is Sea Glass Jewelry. Mimicking a natural process, post-consumer glass is cut into pieces and sand tumbled in an artificial environment. The result is glass pieces that looks like true sea glass.
- With the use of a kiln, Fused Glass Jewelry is created by using several pieces of recycled glass in different colors and textures. The glass pieces are then melted together to create a single beautiful glass piece.
- Drop Glass Jewelry uses a heat source to melt a recycled glass piece letting the force of gravity pull the piece into a droplet.
- Stained Glass Jewelry is a reuse of broken glass pieces of different colors and shapes fit together in a creative pattern.
- Creating a rainbow effect of color, Iridized Glass Jewelry uses pieces of glass that have been treated with metal salts.
Bling Bling With Thoughtfulness
The popularity of recycled glass jewelry is on the rise. Earth aware artists and consumers alike recognize not only the benefits to the environment but the beauty found in each piece of recycled glass jewelry. Stylish jewelry designs have made recycled glass jewelry more fashionable and attractive. At the same time artists using recycled glass contribute to environmental protection by using materials that save 75% of raw materials and over 50% of the energy normally needed to produce items from new glass. Recycled glass jewelry is a sparkling solution to minimize a mundane problem. Ah, and yes, a Jewelry Fashion Aficionado’s dream of an eco solution to stylish accessorizing.
Lynn Lavanga is owner of Stylish Organics an ecommerce boutique that combines smart styling with earth friendly thinking. Visit stylishorganics.com for an inspiring collection of products hand selected for their sustainable properties.
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