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What is the No Dirty Gold Campaign?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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The No Dirty Gold Campaign is a consumer awareness program founded jointly by Oxfam and Earthworks, an environmental policy organization that focuses on mining. The campaign is designed to educate consumers about where their precious metals come from, and to encourage them to seek out retailers who sell environmentally sound gold, which is traditionally one of the dirtiest metals to mine and process. Dirty gold has a profound impact on indigenous peoples, Third World economies, women's rights, and the environment.

Gold mining's environmental impact has been well documented. In addition to disturbing the ecosystem in which a mine is located, gold is also highly polluting, thanks to the toxic chemicals used to extract it, which are often dumped into open pits or waterways. After a mine has been exhausted, the company may choose to abandon it, leaving the mess for the government to clean up. Pollution spreads through air, ground, and water, damaging the quality of life for organisms around the mine including endangered plants and animals as well as human beings.

Especially in Third World countries, gold mining is accompanied by serious human rights issues. Dirty gold is mined in extremely hazardous conditions by workers who have few rights and protections. In addition, land is frequently seized from indigenous peoples, who have nowhere to go once their native lands are taken from them. Women also suffer as a result of dirty gold, since they are rarely compensated for lost land, and gold mining tends to concentrate wealth in the hands of a wealthy few, who are usually men.

Dirty gold is also bad for Third World economies, because it is a nonrenewable resource, making mining economically unsound as well as environmentally unwise. Most mines are held by foreign corporations, so little of the wealth remains in the nation of origin, which is also expected to bear the costs in terms of environment and human health. Heavy pollution due to mining can be accompanied with a crippling cost which many nations are unable to bear, leading to bankruptcy or risky economic practices in an attempt to cope.

Retailers who participate in the No Dirty Gold Campaign agree to source their gold from environmentally sound sources, and to work together to reform the mining industry. Many retailers have joined the global efforts against dirty gold in response to consumer pressures, and the movement is rapidly growing. Retailers agree to source gold from mining companies that are willing to submit to independent audits to ensure that they do not pollute, displace native communities, infringe worker's rights, or damage delicate ecosystems. Consumers, in turn, can seek out retailers who are part of the No Dirty Gold Campaign.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the No Dirty Gold campaign?

The No Dirty Gold campaign is an initiative aimed at stopping environmentally and socially destructive gold mining practices. It advocates for the mining industry to respect human rights and the natural environment, urging consumers and retailers to demand gold that is sourced responsibly. The campaign highlights the often overlooked costs of gold production, such as pollution, landscape destruction, and labor abuses.

Why was the No Dirty Gold campaign started?

The campaign was launched in response to the severe impacts of irresponsible gold mining on communities, workers, and ecosystems. Traditional mining methods can lead to deforestation, contaminated water supplies, and health problems among local populations. The campaign seeks to raise awareness and push for more sustainable practices in the gold mining industry.

What are the main goals of the No Dirty Gold campaign?

The primary goals of the No Dirty Gold campaign are to reform gold mining practices and to establish and promote a set of criteria known as the Golden Rules. These rules call for respect for workers' rights, consent from affected communities, and minimizing environmental harm. The campaign aims to ensure that gold production does not come at the cost of communities or the environment.

How does gold mining affect the environment?

Gold mining can have devastating effects on the environment. It often leads to deforestation, soil erosion, and contamination of water sources with toxic chemicals like mercury and cyanide. According to the World Wildlife Fund, gold mining is a major cause of deforestation in the Amazon and can pollute waterways for generations, affecting both wildlife and human populations.

What can consumers do to support the No Dirty Gold campaign?

Consumers can support the No Dirty Gold campaign by purchasing jewelry from retailers who have committed to ethical sourcing. They can also advocate for responsible gold sourcing by asking jewelers about the origins of their gold and encouraging them to adopt the Golden Rules. Educating oneself and others about the impacts of gold mining is also crucial.

How effective has the No Dirty Gold campaign been?

Since its inception, the No Dirty Gold campaign has made significant strides. It has garnered the support of over 100 jewelry retailers, including some of the industry's biggest names, who have pledged to source gold more responsibly. The campaign has also succeeded in bringing the issue of dirty gold to the forefront of consumer consciousness, influencing purchasing decisions and industry standards.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon350126 — On Oct 02, 2013

First the green house gases, then blood diamonds and then animal rights. People will use any excuse to argue.

By anon46840 — On Sep 29, 2009

people should have the right to live where they want and if they have to move against their will they should be provided another accommodation. i work in a jewelry store and it's shocking reading about the mining! people shouldn't take gold for granted. at the end of the day if people want to mine they should clear up after and find a unoccupied space unless given permission from the occupants!

By anon12123 — On Apr 30, 2008

As a miner I am somewhat surprised by this campaign. It makes it sound as though Gold Mining is a horror that should be avoided at all costs. Not true, not true at all. Like any environmentally sensitive industry, there are good and bad in all. Gold Mining employs many thousands of workers and has an enormous impact on local, state and national economies. All operators must comply with federal and state environmental regulations and are checked regularly for compliance. Gold is only one of the many minerals that are mined. The environmentalists would like for all miners to just go away, but they sure enjoy the things that mining provides them.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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