Pollution-Fighting Nonprofit Partners with Molly Bair and Top Jewelry Designers
The Pure Earth Heavy Metal Benefit Auction is now open. (Photos by Skye Parrott, styling by Heathermary Jackson, modeled by Molly Bair). Worldwide bidding will continue until April 24, when winners will be announced at the Pure Earth Heavy Metal Benefit Bash.
“Pollution has no borders. Toxic mercury, in particular, has the ability to travel far and wide, dropping into oceans and rivers, contaminating seafood. That is why pregnant women the world over are told to avoid certain kinds of fish. People need to be aware of the connection between the gold in their jewelry, watches and electronics, and their environment,” says Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth.
Pamela Love and the Diamond Foundry will be presented with the Pure Earth Impact Award at the benefit in recognition of their commitment to sustainable practices.
Funds raised from the auction and the benefit will support Pure Earth’s work reducing and preventing mercury poisoning from gold mining, as well as cleaning up toxic pollution in some of the world’s worst polluted places.
Where Does Your Gold Come From?
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is the leading cause of mercury pollution in the world, accounting for over 30% of global emissions, making it one of the world’s worst pollution problems. In fact, Pure Earth has identified mercury as one of the top six toxic threats. While about 10% to 25% of the world’s total gold supply comes from artisanal gold mining, the average consumer is generally not aware of this issue.
Pure Earth’s work with the jewelry industry and Molly Bair is beginning to change all this. The works at auction make a statement about the power of the industry and consumers to demand responsibly sourced jewelry, and to ask, “Where does my gold come from?”
“We should all be more aware of how our products are made, and if we see issues, we should demand changes. We have the power, as an industry, to support environmentally responsible mining and production without pollution,” says Bair.
“We are all part of the solution,” adds Fuller. “Pure Earth works around the world to teach artisanal and small-scale gold miners how to go mercury-free. Each year, we are seeing more miners eager to make the switch, as more educated consumers and forward-thinking jewelers begin to demand responsible sources of gold.”
For Too Many, The Price of Gold Mining Is Mercury Poisoning
Artisanal gold miners work in dangerous conditions to earn a meager living. Miners (including some 4.5 million women and 600,000 children) and their families are often the first to suffer from mercury poisoning, but everyone is threatened because mercury travels far and wide, dropping into oceans and rivers, poisoning seafood we all consume.
Today, an estimated 19 million people are at risk of mercury poisoning. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and many organs. It passes through the placenta and travels into developing fetus, causing birth defects and brain damage.
Beyond the auction and the Heavy Metal Benefit Bash, Bair will be working with Pure Earth to help raise awareness to support cleanup projects in the world’s most polluted places, where poor families and children are being poisoned every day.
What Is Being Done?
On the ground, Pure Earth has been working to clean up and prevent toxic mercury pollution in artisanal gold mining communities in Indonesia, Peru, Mongolia, and many other countries. Pure Earth works to raise awareness among miners and their families about the dangers of mercury, train miners in mercury-free mining techniques, and then work with local governments to scale up sustainable mining practices.
Solutions include the responsible use of mercury-recapturing retorts and alternative methods of gold mining like the “Benguet” method—a traditional method of mercury-free mining used in the Philippines a century ago, and rediscovered by Filipino miner Leoncio La Oy, who has been working with Pure Earth to test and teach the method to miners worldwide. Because different methods are viable in different mining locations, Pure Earth is exploring a variety of techniques to reduce mercury that can be used in mines globally.
About Pure Earth (formerly Blacksmith Institute) –www.pureearth.org
Pure Earth’s mission is to identify and clean up the poorest communities throughout the developing world where high concentrations of toxins have devastating health effects. Pure Earth devises cleanup strategies, empowers local champions and secures support from national and international partnerships. Interventions to mitigate these toxic exposures while protecting livelihoods have proven to be manageable, cost-effective, and eminently do-able. By partnering with and empowering local champions we clean up chemical and waste legacy toxic hotspots, prevent re-contamination and guard against future pollution.
Contact: MagdaleneSim, Mag@pureearth.org