Gold has long lost its allure for me. When I was thirteen and more of a redneck, I used to wear a 14k gold chain with my white T-shirt and baggy jeans. I think I may have also had a charm on there. Luckily, I can’t find too many pictures to prove it.
I don’t wear any jewelry now other than my wedding and engagement ring; the former being sterling silver and the latter being made of titanium. If I’m dressing up, I’ll throw on a watch after I don the tie and blazer. I see other gents sporting gold pinky rings or Mr. T chains atop their graying chest hair, and I applaud them for their boldness in accessory choice. I couldn’t do it. At least not without a Coors Light in one hand or a Marlboro in the other.
But until today, I didn’t know my indirect boycott of gold was worthwhile. In a new report, CAFOD details the “gold industry’s dirty face.” As we might imagine, with most industrial production, there is a vast amount of waste (approximately 18 tons) for every gold ring made. But, not only is gold mining and production dangerous to the earth, it is also harming the rural villagers whose huts sit atop the reserves.
Using Honduras and the DR of Congo, the report shows the many, negative, lasting effects of gold production. There is the “resource curse,” which shows that many developing nations rich in natural resources end up being poor monetarily. Although taxes are levied on the large multi-national corporations using the gold, that tax revenue rarely is reinvested in local economies to provide services to the people. This is why Bolivia’s move to nationalize their natural resources could either be revolutionary in helping the people or detrimental in isolating a country.
Likewise, because the gold mining industry has gone the way of the automotive industry and employs technology like it used to employ people, fewer local jobs are created. And, while some companies will voluntarily contribute to local communities and their infrastructure, rarely are these contributions meted out equitably to all interested parties. Sometimes, entire poor neighborhoods are relocated when they are sitting on top of gold. Sound like regentrification in urban America?
Read the report here and be amazed at the reality of where our wedding rings and necklaces are born. As with tin and diamond mining, Africa’s resources and land are being raped. And we adopt the pretty, illegitimate children at bargain rates to dress up our bodies and homes. The reality of the raw goods that form what we wear and use is often shocking. A little research and a lot of reprioritizing could change the world.