Buy Some of that Green Gold

Although I do enjoy chocolates, I view Valentine's Day with distaste. I don't care for flowers (except if they are given to me NOT on Valentine's Day) or diamonds and shiny bangles. To me, Feb. 14 is a love pronouncement that debased itself for profit.

But I know there are those of you who do like giving and getting gifts of appreciation from a special someone on that DAY. (Yuck.) To you, I say listen up: there is a group called Earthworks that works for mining reform and also wants you to know that precious metals mining is, as one jewelry designer admits, "arguably the most toxic and polluting practice on Earth."

Really. Earthworks says that the production of one gold ring generates on average, 20 TONS of mine waste.

Don't despair, you can still buy that little gem. Because in this enlightened time, the retailers, some of the miners, and nongovernmental organizations have joined together to develop the Initiative for Responsible Mining. The initiative is seeking to establish best practice standards for mining operations as well as a system to independently verify compliance with those standards.

Until those standards are developed, those smart retailers have signed on to Earthworks' "No Dirty Gold" campaign. In fact, 50 retailers representing 23 percent of the U.S. jewelry market have pledged to source metals produced in a more responsible manner and that satisfy the Golden Rules criteria for human rights, society, and the environment, Check out the rules at

Payal Sampat of Earthworks said in a press release, "We are delighted that 50 of the world's leading jewelers are seeking alternatives to 'dirty' gold. Now mining companies must respond to this demand, by ending destructive practices like mining in forests and dumping wastes in lakes and rivers."

Mining companies that don't get the message from retailers might listen to their investors. According to the press release, on Jan. 30, Norway's Pension Funds disinvested in the gold mining firm Barrick, citing egregious environmental damage at the company's Porgera gold mining in Papua, New Guinea.

If you are still bent on buying a bauble, Earthworks listed the following companies as signatories of No Dirty Gold: Walmart, Sterling Jewelers, Zale Corp., QVC, Tiffany & Co., JCPenney, and Helzberg Diamonds. Now go. Happier shopping!

Posted by L.K. Williams, EPonline on Feb 05, 2009

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