The little things can make a big difference.

Our November lead story focused on ways jewelers can build sustainable practices and develop reliable supply chains. Such approaches can, after all, help save the planet and set ethical retailers apart.

Here are eight more ways to go green in your jewelry business.

FOCUS ON ELECTRICITY

Lighting upgrades are one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways for businesses to save energy and money. The obvious step is to switch to LED lighting. When Karen Benado made the switch, it dramatically reduced energy consumption at Diamonds R Forever in Kennesawy, GA, and saved about $850 per month on the store's electric bill.

Architect and designer Jesse Balaity of Balaity Property Enhancement recommends illuminating showcases with in-case and ceiling fixtures, but skipping the general lighting along circulation paths. Reducing lighting on the floor areas between showcases helps the jewelry stand out by creating a rhythm of brighter and dimmer spaces throughout the store, and reduces energy consumption for unnecessary lighting.

Each of Jennifer Farnes' workstations at Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO, has its own power switch so it's only on when the jeweler is at the bench.

James Doggett, owner of Doggett Jewelry in Kingston, NH, recycles almost EVERYTHING. “Even my teabags get composted in the small vegetable garden outside,” he says. The AC is turned on only when absolutely necessary; first, windows are opened in search of a breeze. Before the heat is turned on, Doggett and team reach for sweaters. “Newspaper is better than paper towels to clean glass. There are so many ways to save resources.”

WATCH THE CHEMICALS

At Design Unlimited in Rapid City, SD, chemicals never wind up in drains. And they use only chemicals that can be rendered inert and disposed of with no environmental impact, says Michael Goin.

RETHINK PAPER

"All of our packaging is post-consumer recycled and always has been," says Russell Criswell of Vulcan's Forge in Kansas City, MO. "Our bags are random patterns of fabric-blotter paper."

Debbie Klein of Boulder has eliminated most postcard mailings in favor of email invitations and social media. "We have over 5,000 names on our mailing list," she says, "so that should save a tree or two." They also recycle and compost everything, which is required by the city of Boulder.

Look for eco-friendly tags, too. Arch Crown offers string tags and earring cards made with a minimum of 30 percent post consumer fiber. Tags are FSC and Green Seal Certified Carbon Neutral Plus, ensuring a reduction in carbon emissions plus a commitment to conserve the environment. 

In response to a drought and watering restrictions in California, Fox Fine Jewelry in Ventura, CA, teamed up with a local radio station to create a “Golden Lawn” contest to spread the word about water conservation. People who brought in a picture of their “golden,” rather than green lawn, were entered into a drawing for a $1,000 shopping spree at Fox, which was given away during an event featuring conservation vendors. Concurrently, Cumulus Radio’s “the Vibe” ran a "Gold is the New Green" contest in which people who posted signs in their yards and post photos on Facebook qualified for prizes.

Debbie Klein of Boulder runs an annual event every year called "Gold Goes Green" with Jeff Feero from Alex Sepkus' studio. Sepkus uses over 75 percent recycled metal in his work. Klein's clients can bring in old gold and platinum in exchange for a credit toward a new piece. He can also offer cash for the metal, but they love to trade in old, unworn or broken pieces for something new and shiny. "It's a very popular event." Babs Noelle of Alara in Bozeman, MT, has given preference to jewelry designers working in recycled metals since 2009 and has made it a requirement for new designers represented in her store since 2013.

LUNCH LESSONS

Jill Keith of Enchanted Jewelry in Danielson, CT, and her staff make lunches every day (nothing requires refrigeration or a microwave) and bring water from home in reusable stainless containers. They even got rid of the Dumpster out back and dump their own garbage weekly at the town transfer station.

Jonathan McCoy of McCoy Jewelers in Dubuque, IA, recycles everything possible and casts all designs in recycled metals and repurposed street-purchased gemstones into new inventory. “In addition, we have a large business in restyling old jewelry into next-generation heirlooms,” McCoy says. "Mostly we find that the 'green' aspect is a factor but the 'heirloom' factor is as strong. Moving something forward from one generation to the next has created a ring with more than just style, but with history to it. This is not just a millennial 'thing'; we have been doing this for decades for our clients that are in all age groups. All have loved not just the new jewelry, but the story they get to share. The fact that we cast from vendors that supply us with 100 percent certified recycled gold as well as our own efforts in recycling 'street buys' into casting grain and not just a check has made a difference in not just our image but our bottom line."

This story is an INSTORE Online extra.