Why? And why in the USA?*
Because we as Americans are one of the largest jewelry consumers and WE have the ability to either continue to be blind to the devastation OR change it! The global market has been a “race to the bottom” in the attempt to lower all costs- with jewelry materials this has led to the destruction of the environment, wasteful using of precious water, water pollution, dangerous labor conditions, modern day slavery, and immense poverty in the countries who are the most resource rich. How we source can change this. Knowing each step of where our materials come from and creating new relationships with the producers allows us to choose to protect our environment and EMPOWER producers while alleviating poverty.
Why not recycled gold or recycled silver?*
The decision ultimately is up to you. For me, I can’t ignore this population which is what using recycled does. Using recycled will not change the issues, it will encourage them, because you who care has decided to consciously ignore them. And honestly? We’re their only hope. If it didn’t mean this, I would stick to recycled silver and gold too, but I have a plan and ask you to think about it:
We now have the opportunity to both protect the environment and empower a sector that is one of the largest marginalized groups. So while we encourage recycling, lets buy from the source, allowing these communities the chance to rise up, send their children to school and the chance to break from the system before you push for them, their families and indirect dependents to continue to be taken advantage of, not have the respect they deserve or the pay, poison themselves and their land- that’s the reality that using recycled right now will accomplish. And the reality also is- right now we can’t support the USA’s consumption with only recycled. So what are you really accomplishing? Let’s promote recycling and by all means, when we can support our consumption with only recycled, lets do it! But not doing it in this way, will not lead to the success of our ideals, it will lead to the failure of both movements, while hurting millions.
Whats the size of the group I’m referring to? 25 million with 150 million indirectly dependent. There are 25 million artisanal and small scale miners (ASM) who work independently of a large mining company, making 90% of the mining work force. 15 million ASM who mine gold (normally found with other metals, such as silver- I’ll be working on finding out how often). They mine often because they have no other choice. As they are often working for themselves or form co-ops, the proceeds from the purchase goes directly to them, their families, their community and country.
Buying from them directly or from certified mines who’ve undergone Fairmined or Fairtrade certification lets us work with them to combat the issues this marginalized group faces, give a story to those who are currently invisible and stop the destruction of the environment with safety training and introducing methods to not use chemicals.
Did you know artisanal and small-scale gold mining is by far the largest pollutant of mercury? That it is responsible for 37% of global mercury emissions- 727 tons and is the largest source of air and water mercury pollution according to the 2013 UN Environment Programme? Why? Because many do not know the chemical’s harm or have another choice (mercury is one of the cheapest and easiest options to extract metal from the ore). But there are alternatives and there are safety measures that can be put in place. Connecting them to the global market directly, educating and training, will get this to change.
Ignoring does not lead to a solution.
Article on the above coming soon.
More Coming Soon! Such as: Why add a silver focus?
*Written by Dora Szekely. Parts or quotes may be used with credit to author.