If you’ve made it to this page, you’re probably as passionate about ethics as you are about style. Well, that’s something we have in common.
At Zefyr we’re committed to providing a better product for you and for all of the people, animals and plants along the supply chain.
We’ve put together some of the hard facts about the impacts of mining and the jewellery industry below. We don’t want you to have to choose between glam and ethics, and armed with these facts you can rest assured that you don’t have to.
Use this information to educate yourself, but don’t lose hope! Make knowledge your superpower* and become an eco glamazon.
We like to breathe easy, and as we’re aiming to be totally carbon neutral by late-2014, our customers can too.
Unfortunately air pollution is still a nasty by-product of the traditional jewellery industry’s quest for new resources:
10% of the world’s annual energy outputs are produced by the mining industry.
40% of all reported toxic pollution releases are caused by the mining industry, which is also the second largest contributor to greenhouse gases.
One third of all global mercury pollution is caused by small scale mining. Mercury, a potent neurotoxin, is used to amalgamate gold particles and then burned off, often without basic technology to protect workers’ health or capture waste or fumes.
At Zefyr we recycle brass, renew metals and commission lead-reduced glass crystal. This reduces the call for new materials mined from finite resources, avoiding streams of waste and damage to the natural environment.
Here are some reasons why we think this is a great idea:
The creation of one gold ring produces 20 – 60 tonnes of toxic waste. Arsenic, lead, mercury, petroleum byproducts, acids and cyanide are among the thirty six dangerous chemicals found in toxic mine waste.
Open-pit gold mines obliterate the landscape, create vast craters and flatten mountaintops. The Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, is visible from outer space.
More than 25 per cent of active mines and exploration sites are in or near protected natural areas. Mining is a major threat to biodiversity.
It’s no secret that mining can contaminate our precious water systems. We avoid the corrosive chemicals traditionally used in jewellery manufacture. Instead we use citric acid, mild salts and only biodegradable soaps. We don’t use cyanide or nickel either, so our waste products are kinder to our earth and her waters.
Compare this with mining’s track record:
The average goldmine uses enough water to meet the basic needs of a large city’s population for a whole year.
Mining companies around the world dump around 180 million tonnes of toxic waste into rivers, lakes, streams and oceans annually.
Many gold mines employ a process known as heap leaching, which includes dripping a cyanide solution through huge piles of ore, contaminating groundwater and poisoning neighboring communities.
This contaminated water is called Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), a toxic cocktail uniquely destructive to aquatic life. This ultimately affects you and I: as well as contaminating drinking water, byproducts such as mercury and heavy metals work their way into the food chain and sicken people and animals for generations.
The people who work along Zefyr Jewels’ supply chain are paid fair wages, and have a safe working environment. They all have Social Compliance Certification. This means they can work with dignity and confidence, and return home safe to their families at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, some people who work in or are affected by the mining industry aren’t as lucky:
The "Resource Curse" is a term used by economists to describe the contradictory phenomenon of mineral-rich countries suffering the slowest economic growth and highest poverty rates in the world.
Mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The International Labor Organization estimates that mining represents one percent of the world's labor force but five percent of on-the-job fatalities, including from rock falls, tunnel collapses, fires, heat exhaustion and respiratory problems.
In some countries, the lifespan of miners is substantially lower than that of the general population. The average miner in the tin mines of Potosí, Bolivia, will live only 35 to 40 years, compared to the general population's life expectancy of about 67 years.
In many countries the law does not recognize indigenous peoples as owners of their lands, or acknowledge their spiritual and cultural connection to their environment. Consequently, they are often vulnerable to eviction when a mining lease is granted. The associated forced relocation, physical attacks, and loss of livelihoods that come with land expropriations are all serious human rights violations.
Phew, that’s heavy reading! But no matter how bleak it sounds, we’re proud to be one of the many design labels who are now enacting change.
Every step we all take is leading us to a more thoughtful, safe and fair future, and we’re so grateful that you’re here alongside us.
Thank you for informing yourself, staying positive and combining glamour and style with consciousness and compassion.
Yours in sparkly solidarity,
The Zefyr Team
To read more about these issues visit www.earthworksaction.org
* Captain Planet references unintentional