I stumbled upon a Chinese manufacturer's website where they have gazillions of acrylic beads in every imaginable size, shape and color - including the droplet beads I have been searching for. They are insanely affordable. Until you calculate the shipping.
First - do I by plastic stuff directly from China? I have such a big problem with China - lack of democracy, horrible human rights abuses, poor working conditions, bad environmental record - etc, etc . . . But they do plastic well. That's their thing, right?
Second - do I use plastic in my designs? I've been leaning more and more toward glass in recent years - it is more ecologically sound as a design component than either plastic or gemstone. There's a little less "rape of the earth" going on to produce spectacular glass.
I ordered a "small" quantity of the beads. Only about 1,800 of them in 8 different colors. I'll see how they work for me and how I feel about them when I hold them in my hands. If they are less than wonderful or if they 'feel' bad then I will not purchase any more.
BUT the biggest frustration I've uncovered here is related to other suppliers' dishonesty. For several years, I've been ordering small quantities of spectacular "vintage" acrylic and lucite beads from other Etsy suppliers to use in my designs. I was feeling O.K. about using plastic in these cases because the beads were vintage, right? I was not contributing to the plastic mania or using up more fossil fuels to design with these beads - in fact, I was saving them from going into landfills or into the great Pacific Gyre, right?
I guess the lesson here is - if it looks too new to be old, it is.