The crystal / healing crystal industry in recent years, has exploded with popularity with numerous stores popping up all over the internet, including Otway Crystals, that evolved and reinvented itself from a decor / children's wear store. I combined my love of our eco friendly felt products with my passion for crystals and gemstones which started as a teenager.
But when i think back to my very first crystal purchase as a 15 year old,( a very long time ago), i absolutely would not of even given a thought to where it came from. Who dug it out of the ground? What country did it even come from?
My first crystal, below, has been with me for over 32 years.
But today with the enormous amounts of crystals, stones and minerals being mined and made available world wide, you have to ask the question where are they all coming from?
The main questions i have for my suppliers regarding ethically sourced crystals are:
1. Do you personally visit the mines where you source your products?
2. Can you confirm no child labour is involved in sourcing your products?
3. Is there safety practices put into place to protect workers?
4. Is there any environmental strategies in place for any vegetation removal and rehabilitation of mined areas?
A really great informative and eye opening article by Tess McClure from the Guardian, dives into the Madagascan mineral supply chain. You can clearly see that everything is NOT alright, so it is extremely important to know where your crystals are coming from, particularly from countries like Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world that do not have any regulations for safety or ecologically sound mining practices.
You can read the full article here!
Below, Young boys mining in madagascar. Photo credit: Tess McClure
Here at Otway Crystals we are opting for a smaller run of ethically sourced crystals. You do see alot of cheaper crystals which are mostly sourced through larger wholesalers particularly in China and the U.S. There would be no tracking the origins of the crystals as they have changed hands numerous times with a snowball effect of monetary value. In other words the miners and their families who risk their lives (and their children's) get paid an apalling amount per kilo ( about enough to buy a cup of rice) and for that same rock to end up worth $1000 at the other end of its journey is just mind boggling. (One of our suppliers below works very closely with small mining families in Madagascar to insure workers safety is paramount, they pay fair wages and have also implemented self imposed environmental protocols.) If you are willing to pay just a few extra dollars for your ethically sourced crystals it means you are ensuring workers safety, ensuring fair wages and of utmost importance ensuring no child is being sent underground into dangerous, toxic (not enough oxygen) and unsafe tunnels in the ground.
Otway Crystals have direct suppliers of ethically sourced crystals in Brazil, South Africa and Australia.
Our Supplier in Brazil buys direct from several local family owned and operated mines. She visits there regularly and often shows us videos of her visits. From the rough rock to the completed polished pieces or carvings, it is all done on site by the same people who mine the product so it cuts out the numerous handling and middle men which then provides a fair income for many families. Our supplier has said most of her suppliers are families working together and they do not work with children or exploration. She knows every single supplier and their crystal business in the mines is the first income they have.
Our supplier in South Africa also works with many many smaller mines.They have supplied a full statement to us ( their wholesale customers ) explaining their ethical practices sourcing crystals. I have added some excerpts below and you can read their full disclosure here!
- I am always very conscious of how we, or anybody else, impacts on Nature and we are generally very conscious of trying to help in the realms of bettering other folks lives that we work and deal with.
- Our business supports around 800 small scale miners, many of whom are in remote areas in Africa and Madagascar. Most African folk these days have migrated to the cities looking for work and food, causing absolute havoc with overpopulation and crowded dirty conditions, whereas our model of business supplies many families with a good income where they live, where they are able to build up economies at home.
Our Supplier in Australia is a sole owner/operator and has various leases, mostly in Western Australia. He follows tight WA mining and excavation regulations. There are no big scale or underground mining operations and the sparse vegetation in the remote deserts of WA means no deforestation of any type. Excavation of any large rock deposits is carefully rehabilitated back to its natural state. Below is his complete statement:
As we have numerous mining tenements, we are quite heavily regulated when it comes to ground disturbance and rehabilitation. We need to annually submit environmental reports and details of our operations, often accompanied by photos to verify regrowth etc, We clear as little vegetation as possible and always restore the natural contours to any of the areas that we have disturbed. Heavy rain during the cyclone season aids prolific growth of the native grasses like spinifex and after a few years it is difficult if not impossible to tell that anything was dug from the area.
As new products arrive to our suppliers the questions regarding origins will continue. We hope to further expand our supplier network, particularly with our Pakistan supplier for Lapis, Calcites and Onyx and only working together with miners and their families that ensure safety, have non destructive mining practices and of course absolutely no child labour.
We are also currently working with an Australian supplier who is a professional geologist and has travelled extensively to find suppliers of the highest standard in quality and ethical practices.