What’s in Macy’s Stocking? A Lump of Dirty Gold

Earthworks Pressures the Retail Giant to Commit to Ethical Gold this Christmas


December 1, 2011

Earthworks Pressures the Retail Giant to Commit to Ethical Gold this Christmas

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1  – This holiday season, Macy’s could give its customers a gift: the assurance that the jewelry they buy comes from responsible gold mining. Instead, Macy’s remains one of the last major retailers that has yet to sign the No Dirty Gold Campaign’s Golden Rules, a set of social, human rights and environmental criteria for mining gold and other precious metals.

The No Dirty Gold Campaign, led by Earthworks, an international mining reform group, says Macy’s is turning a blind eye toward the abuses associated with irresponsible gold mining, while potentially selling gold tainted with those abuses. The department store chain, which includes Bloomingdale’s, is the eighth-largest retailer of gold jewelry in the United States, and one of the last major jewelry retailers to fail to sign the Golden Rules. Thus far, 80 retailers, including Target, Tiffany, Sears and Helzberg, have committed to these criteria.

“Macy’s stores and holiday catalogs are filled with glittering displays of jewelry, but they’re tarnished by the fact that shoppers can’t be sure where the gold comes from,” said Payal Sampat, international campaigns director for Earthworks. “Macy’s customers deserve to know their holiday gifts don’t come with a legacy of water pollution or human rights abuses, and right now Macy’s can’t say that.”

Gold mining is one of the most polluting industries on earth. Mining and producing one gold ring leaves, on average, 20 tons of often-toxic waste. Gold mining is also rife with human rights and labor abuses. On the Department of Labor’s list of goods produced by child labor or forced labor, gold is the most frequently named commodity.

This week, Earthworks and, an online social action platform, site, will begin a petition drive, asking consumers to tell Macy’s they want the company to commit to using only ethically sourced gold. Earlier this year, a similar petition to Target gathered over 22,000 signatures and helped convince the chain to sign the Golden Rules.

“Macy’s has a very clear choice,” said Nick Magel, international campaigns coordinator for Earthworks. “They can listen to their customers who want to know that their gold comes from ethical sources, or continue to hold out, sending the message that they don’t value sustainability and transparency.”



EARTHWORKS "No Dirty Gold" campaign works to educate and motivate consumers and jewelry retailers to push the mining industry towards more responsible practices. Over 80 jewelry companies have committed to switching to cleaner gold sources when available, and more than 100,000 consumers have joined the effort. For more information, see

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Tagged with: no dirty gold, macys, jewelry, golden rules, gold

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