I've Been An Environmental Entrepreneur since I was 12! Reflections for Earth Day

I never knew I was an environmentalist. People often ask how I became one, and my answer is that I never became one. I always was one, by default. It was how I was raised. I grew up in a solar home, with a compost pile, and an organic garden. And I thought it was completely normal.

Everyone Makes Their Own Soap, Right?

I grew up thinking all kids washed their zip lock baggies and re-used them. That all families made their own soft soap from salvaged bar soap rinds  -- my mom was a chemist which helped with these kinds of clever concoctions. And, of course, I thought all kids knew to collect soda cans and newspapers from their neighbors to sell at the recycling center to raise money to go to basketball camp. 

Environmentally Empowered 

But as an adult, I learned that wasn't the case. Sometimes I look back and I'm embarrassed to think of myself at 12 years old, pushing my Dad’s wheelbarrow door-to-door, to knock and ask neighbors for recyclables. But then sometimes I think, "I was an entrepreneur at 12!" and I feel proud that recycling and money got coupled in my mind at such an early age. Without that early association and entrepreneurial success, I may have never felt that transforming post-consumer bottles into jewelry was a career worth pursuing. 

But thankfully, the lessons and success I learned at an early age helped provide the vision and financial savvy to turn recycling glass into a successful jewelry business for the past 30 years. 

Support Sustainable Products and Brands Every Day  

Even though every day at Smart Glass is Earth Day, I want to celebrate today nonetheless. Earth Day is an important day to remind all of us of the small things we can do to minimize our impact on the earth. One such small thing we can all do is support brands with sustainable practices.

When it comes to helping the environment, most people think to recycle, compose and reduce. But individual recycling isn't nearly as important as taking the time and resources to support sustainable or recycled products and brands. Sometimes these products and brands cost a little extra, but their impact is much bigger. So that’s my little plug for supporting environmentally correct brands, from your computer paper to your gifts.

The Joy Of Finding and Funding Sustainable Brands

We are all part of the equation, and hey, it’s a lot more fun to discover new and fund sustainable brands than it is to push a wheelbarrow door-to-door collecting old cans. Trust me, I know this one first hand!



Kathleen Plate is the talented artist behind Smart Glass Jewelry. Born and raised in Cathlamet, a small town in Washington State, her small-town roots are evident in her minimalist, “keep it simple” design philosophy. Now residing in Atlanta, Georgia, you’ll find her every day in her studio, tinkering and creating, and hitting the occasional dumpster at night.


Smart Glass Jewelry is an artist's studio based out of Atlanta, Georgia specializing in upcycling post-consumer glass bottles into wearable, beautiful jewelry. Smart Glass Jewelry reclaims glass beer, wine, saki, vodka, soda and gin bottles to create their colorful and sustainable designs.