Solve pollution. Save lives. Protect the planet.

March 19, 2019

In 2017, more than 30 models got on a bus and headed to the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. It was one of their first forays as the Model Mafia, a powerful collective of activist models brought together by Cameron Russell and Áine Rose Campbell. Today, over 200 models belong to the Model Mafia, and they are changing the world once cause at a time. We’re so glad that they are now helping us to raise awareness to fight pollution — the largest environmental cause of premature death and disease in the world today.

“One of our (Model Mafia) members, Molly Bair,  besides modeling and going to school to study environmental science, interned with Pure Earth! She learned about how the non profit takes on the challenges of global toxic pollution, particularly the pollution caused by gold mining, which is the largest contributor to mercury pollution,” recalls Cameron Russell.

“So, when she brought the project to us to see if we might be able to facilitate more model collaborations it was a no brainer. Our community is always looking for creative, transformative ways to engage the fashion community in environmental issues.”

Our community is always looking for creative, transformative ways to engage the fashion community in environmental issues.

The Model Mafia and Pure Earth are collaborating on the 4th Pure Earth Pure Gold responsibly-sourced jewellery collection, which is being auctioned NOW to support Pure Earth’s pollution clean up work, including efforts to train artisanal gold miners to go mercury free.

Scroll down to meet members of the Model Mafia and learn more about the issue of gold and pollution.

About the Pure Earth Pure Gold collection

Some of the beautiful pieces from the Pure Earth Pure Gold responsible jewellery collection, crafted by over 30 leading designers, assembled for the photo shoot.

The collection features Model Mafia members Hartje Andresen, Meisha Brooks, Aine Rose Campbell, Brana Dane, and Renee Peters wearing works by over 30 leading designers. All works in the collection were crafted using responsibly-sourced gold and stones. Hoover and Strong, Universal Metals, Diamond Foundry, and Perpetuum Jewels all donated materials to some of the participating designers.

Designers featured in the 4th Pure Earth Pure Gold responsible jewellery collection include: Aesa Jewellery, Allison Hall, AMANDA PEARL, Ani Khachian Fine Jewellery, Annika Inez, Arabel Lebrusan , Ariane Zurcher Designs, Bario Neal, Bayou with Love, Brilliant Earth, Casa Collab, Chandally, Christina Malle Jewelry, Dana Bronfman, Donna Distefano, East Fourth Street, Emily Chelsea Jewellery, Futura Jewellery, Gillian Steinhardt, Grace Lee, Halleh, Hi June Parker Jewellery , KATKIM, Leigh Miller Jewellery , Liam Powers Jewellery, Melissa Joy Manning , Merzatta, Michael Aram, Mociun, Pili Restrepo, S/H Koh, Scosha, Selin Kent, Shahla Karimi, Spinelli Kilcolin, Steven Jacob, Toby Pomeroy, Ursa Major and Vale.  Sunglasses at auction by Just Human.

Meet the Model Mafia, learn more about the issue:

Áine Rose Campbell

“I hope that the Model Mafia and Pure Earth collaboration will raise awareness about the pollution created by most jewellery manufacturing, in particular, the fact that artisanal gold mining is the leading cause of mercury emissions. This mercury then travels into water systems, poisons the marine life, and poisons anyone who eats the contaminated seafood. This is unacceptable and people need to know that there are sustainable and environmentally friendly jewellery options for purchase.”

“It’s really important for the fashion industry to get behind brands that are using clean gold so that we can see a change happen more quickly. Sustainable practices should be the norm, not the exception.”

Sustainable practices should be the norm, not the exception.

Model Mafia member Brana Dane being photographed wearing pieces from the Pure Earth Pure Gold responsible jewellery collection. Robe, Top, Pants: Mi Jong Lee,

Brana Dane

“We live on one earth and the environmental challenges we face are becoming immense. I feel that this is something more Americans need to be aware of. It’s not only an environmental issue, it’s a health and safety issue.”

“As a model, I have a platform; I am consciously choosing to use my platform to support causes I believe in. I wholeheartedly believe clean air and clean water is a human right. Pure Earth is working to remedy the dire situation in many parts of the world where this basic human right is compromised… Like it or not, models are looked up to by many. That’s why it’s so important to be not just a model, but also a Role Model.”

… it’s so important to be not just a model, but also a Role Model.

Model Mafia member Hartje Andresen being photographed wearing pieces from the Pure Earth Pure Gold responsible jewelry collection, available for auction until April 8. Jumpsuit: Irwin Garden,

Hartje Andresen

“News about pollution and global warming are coming up more and more frequently and with a sense of urgency that makes many people rethink the way they shop and re-evaluate their priorities.”

“As with so many things, the first thing to do is to educate ourselves. Research how the way you shop and consume can aggravate or alleviate the issue. Get together with friends and discuss ideas, what changes you can make so your lifestyle will not contribute to the problem. Spread the word and share those ideas, encourage friends and family to do the same. Beyond that, you can find out other ways, for example to support organizations that are involved in solving the problem. Send them an email and ask for more information, if they need volunteers or donations. There are really no limits about what you can do, it just depends on how much time/money/energy you are willing to put into it.”

…the first thing to do is to educate ourselves.

Model Mafia member Meisha Brooks wearing the Just Human Bold Square sunglasses, which is also available for auction. Just Human is donating 1% of their sales to Pure Earth to help fight pollution. Photo: Jon Moe. Jumpsuit: Irwin Garden, Shoes: Taylor + Thomas,

Meisha Brooks

“The fashion industry relies on international consumption to exist. The condition of the supply chain is important… Transboundary pollution isn’t simply an industry problem it’s a human problem. We are all affected no matter what country we inhabit and it is the responsibility of those with influential positions to get involved with making positive changes for everyone. ”

“What I love about Pure Earth is that they are active leaders in the entire spectrum of addressing world pollution. It’s a human-focused effort with the priority constantly being the well being of victims… Everything is driven by local power. They have local advocates motivate change and this is the most effective method for adoption of new technology. Ultimately, those efforts which do not respect local structures, well-intentioned or not, end up making very little impact. Pure Earth has been able to address and prevent pollution while at the same time helping existing communities thrive.”

Transboundary pollution isn’t simply an industry problem it’s a human problem.

Model Mafia member Renee Peters being photographed wearing pieces from the Pure Earth Pure Gold responsible jewelry collection, available for auction until April 8. Dress: Mi Jong Lee,

Raising awareness about the gold/pollution connection: 

Do you know where your gold in your jewellery and electronics come from?

About 10% to 25% of the world’s total gold supply comes from artisanal gold mining. 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.

Artisanal gold miners work in dangerous conditions to earn a meagre living.  To help them extract small grains of gold from ore, miners add mercury, which binds with the gold to form an amalgam. When burned, the toxic mercury evaporates into the atmosphere, leaving behind gold.

Women miners in Indonesia pan for gold. Pure Earth is teaching them how to go mercury-free. Photo: YTS

Artisanal miners (including some 4.5 million women) 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.

Increasing demand for mercury-free gold will help more artisanal miners to go mercury free, ensuring their livelihoods while reducing mercury emissions, and preventing mercury poisoning globally.

What Is Being Done?

On the ground, Pure Earth has been working to reduce and prevent toxic mercury pollution in artisanal gold mining communities in Peru, Indonesia, Mongolia, and 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 work with local governments to scale up sustainable mining practices.

Pure Earth has been working with Filipino miner Leoncio Na-Oy for nearly a decade to test and teach a century-old mercury-free mining technique to artisanal miners worldwide. Other solutions include the responsible use of mercury-recapturing retorts. 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.

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