You try to shop local and drive less. Your dog’s compostable poop bags are made from corn. Maybe you use jade to increase sexual energy, or wear a clear quartz necklace to clarify your thoughts. But in our complex global economy, some products’ true origin can elude even the greenest consumer. For The New Republic, Emily Atkin exposes the healing crystal industry’s inability, and unwillingness, to identify all of their crystals’ sources, which conflicts with the new agey, wholistic reasons people use crystals.
Most of the US’s healing crystal stores buy their stock at the annual Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase in Tucson, Arizona. Even though some vendors try to source responsibly, others’ crystals come from environmentally and ethically dubious mining operations. For instance, the jade that’s marketed for sexual healing might come from Myanmar, whose jade industry Al Jazeera called “the biggest natural resource heist in modern history.” Atkin shows that it’s time that the healing crystal industry healed itself.
Publicly-traded mining companies don’t routinely disclose all of their byproducts, nor to whom they sell these byproducts. Annual reports for shareholders tend to list only the cumulative profits from byproducts. It’s therefore difficult to assess what percentage of the healing crystal market is sourced from industrial mining operations.
It’s not difficult, however, to prove that some crystals come from mines that are decidedly unfriendly to the Earth. For example, this large blue chrysocolla—a “supportive goddess energy stone”—is from the Tyrone Copper Mine, and this $48 pyrite stone to “promote positive thinking” is from the Chino Copper Mine. These are the two largest copper mines in New Mexico, and according to the environmental group Earthworks, they “will generate an estimated 2 billion gallons of acid and metals contaminated seepage every year, requiring water treatment in perpetuity.” The mines have also caused “severe surface and groundwater contamination, and the State of New Mexico and U.S. Department of Justice have filed natural resource damage claims against the company for damages to water and wildlife resources.”