Gold has always been a symbol of wealth, power and beauty. It is also the most malleable metal, where a single gram of the dark yellow material can be pounded into a full square meter sheet. This precious metal is not just limited to jewelry and decoration. Gold is also used in holistic medicine. Since medieval times, it has been assumed that something so rare and precious could be nothing but healthy . With that in mind, many foods are decorated with gold leaf and flakes to add to their appeal, but the metal leaves the body unchanged.
Jewelry is usually what is associated with gold and 80% of the mined metal goes into these accessories. Unfortunately, not many people know how the gold traveled from various mines to a fiance’s finger or a favorite necklace. The whole process is a dirty one. Gold mining has devastating impacts on the environment and local communities. “No Dirty Gold” is a website dedicated to educating the public about the effects of gold mining. The site explains how the mining process reduces air quality, damages habitats and displaces local communities. The cyanide extraction process is one of the less environmentally friendly methods. The high toxicity of cyanide is an obvious threat to any living organism. The potential for disaster was proven when in 2000, a gold mining reprocessing facility in Romania accidentally released 120 tonnes of the poison into surrounding rivers. Dead fish washed up on shore, people became ill and the land simply died after the cyanide spill. No fish have been in the river Sasar for 60 years-ever since cyanide was used in the mining process there.
Gold will always have cultural significance and as well has a multitude of practical uses. It is unrealistic to think that demand for the metal will end. However, there are alternatives to buying an item made from freshly mined gold. GreenKarat provides ecologically responsible jewelry made from recycled gold and diamonds. GreenKarat explains: “Our greater goal at GreenKarat is to end destructive gold and diamond mining. We do not, however, strive to force that change through radical activism. While activist organizations play a critically important role in educating and motivating consumers, we believe that widespread and permanent change will ultimately occur through the voice of consumer buying decisions.”
With companies like GreenKarat providing hundreds of different jewelry options, it is a popular choice among environmentally conscious individuals.