Ethics and Sustainability in the Stone and Crystal Market
Mining the Earth has caused trauma to the Earth, humans, and animals that is beyond repair.
Almost everything we use in our modern lives relies on some form of mining. In many cases of mining- whether it's for batteries, crystals, or metals- there's nothing ethical or sustainable about it.
In some instances, there's reciprocity.
In some cases, there is respect, gratitude and love.
In turning this issue in the light, and examining all of the facets for years, there just isn't one that's going to make us all feel better. In fact, we can stop looking for an angle that's meant to make us feel better.
As my beloved mentor says about just trying to feel better in the shadow places,
This is a dark road. All of the houses are dark. The death, loss and pain are ongoing.
After all of my years inside this crystal market, I've found a way to keep a small candle lit in the window of my home on this dark street.
I have found that the small candle flame stays lit by the joy of the knowledge.
It is fueled by practical things. When we work with the stones, when we let them work, when we witness them weave through the body, the room, the people, the land, when we give amber to our teething child, when we give a crystal to a friend because we understand what they're going through, when we place a stone with the intention to help heal another living thing in this world...
we bring a healing balm to the losses. We bring good medicine to the Earth we are a part of.
It is the joy of the knowledge that makes a difference.
Education, inspiration, connection with the Earth, and an intention to awaken the human collective - these keep a small candle burning in the window, on what is a dark road.
Thank you for being a part of the changes we are beginning to see.
Here are some specific examples on what may be considered sustainable and ethical harvesting:
- Crystals can be saved by miners before being blown up in giant mining operations. Before the next cave room gets blown up with dynamite to mine more zinc, lead, gold, uranium, etc., miners might carefully remove the natural crystal and mineral specimens inside and bring them out of the mine and sell them to collectors and healers. Although the larger mining operation may or may not be good mining, saving the crystals before they are blown up and getting them into the hands of healers and people who love and care, may be considered ethical. Some of our favorite crystals are harvested in this way.
- Rockhounders can hand-harvest stones with only very small non-powered tools. Many of our stones come from this background exactly. These rockhounders often speak with the land, make offerings, harvest only what is easily accessible, (some of them even only surface collect with no tools at all), and leave no trace. One of our main suppliers even uses body-based dowsing and communication with the Earth to find the stones, and one other main supplier creates ceremonies on full moons to give thanks for what he has collected. These people also pay attention to the land they’re on and respect sacred ground. Examples in our shop include our Thunder Bay Amethyst collection, our entire Euphoralite collection, stones that we ourselves rockhound in southern Appalachia and offer, our Mayan Jade collection, our quantum smoky quartz, and many more.
- Some harvesters do use power tools, small excavators, and other Earth-turning vehicles. One of our main suppliers is a small company that harvests stones in Madagascar. They take sacred reciprocity seriously. They plant trees, and take care of the local people with jobs and donations to the villages. They also treat their buyers, like us, with respect, fairness and zero greed. These kinds of practices may also be considered ethical.
- Family operations are the backbone of our relationships with African minerals sellers. Our Namibian stones come from our close friend in the industry. He is a Namibian man whose brother does the surface-collecting rockhounding. His father is the head of the business, and others in his family have been in the business for more than 2 generations. They have a reciprocal, respectful relationship with their homeland. The crystals they sell have put food on their tables and money into their township economies for decades. Like farmers, the land is their livelihood. This may also be considered ethical.
One of our suppliers from Africa even traveled there, asked the local medicine man and spiritual leader of the area if he could buy and sell the crystals in the West. The medicine man said yes and that it would be a win-win, generating jobs and abundance for the local people, and moving the crystals into the world for healing work.
We have a lot of crystals in our shop with this kind of background including our minerals from other regions of Africa, our minerals from Tibet, India and more. These kinds of practices may also be considered ethical.
Here are just a few of our conscious partners:
How Stone Buyers Can Help the Earth
My advice to those who are seeking sustainable and ethical sources for stones can be distilled down to one piece of guidance: Ask questions. Ask sellers the origins of their stones and what they know about how they were harvested. (‘Mined’ is the word they’re more accustomed to).
If a seller doesn't know much about one product, that’s not a deal-breaker. If they don’t know much about many of the products, that is a deal-breaker. It means they’re not asking questions to their sources. If they’re not asking these questions regularly, I wouldn’t consider them an ethical or sustainable source for stones. If you care about these issues, take your business to someone who does.
After over a decade of close interaction and education in this market, here in the U.S. and beyond, I’ve learned a lot. It’s still the tip of the iceberg of the whole picture. The knowledge I do have has taken time, travel, nurturing of relationships, and asking thousands of questions.
At the end of the day, I would define an ethical and sustainable stone and crystal shop as one that holds an open heart to learning about the many layers of complexity that compose a global stone and crystal market. Ethics and sustainability is an orientation, not a destination.
Most of all, an ethical source is one who chooses to say no to unethical sources, and does their very best to only circulate ethically sourced stones.
One final point: On my journey, I’ve learned that it’s not possible to rule out uncertainty. Some stones lose their stories along the way and there’s no information available on their origins. One example would be someone selling their entire antique mineral collection. Sometimes, I will still purchase them. I engage with the stones and use my intuition to determine if they should come home to our shop.
I listen to the answer I receive. Stones are living things. I don’t reject all stones who lost their stories. They deserve a chance to live a destiny with a conscious person as much as any other stone.
We know our community and I believe there’s no better place to land than with one of our shop supporters or students. I consider all of you safe and sound homes for stones. Even more significantly, you are homes where stones can fulfill their purposes and live their destinies.
That’s the crossroad where you’ll continue to find us. Between conscious harvesters and people like you. Education and healing will always be the heart of The Clarity Crystal Shop
Thank you for nurtuting this small candle flame with us.
-Sarah Thomas, LAc, Owner
p.s. If you want to learn more about how to make reparations, the educational work we do at our school, the Upper Clarity School of Stone Medicine, includes teachings on how to regenerate Nature spaces, heal the land, and give back to the Earth. Stones are a key tool in this work. Go to UpperClarity.com
p.p.s. To read the stories of the conscious people in this market, go to @Sarah_E_Thomas on Instagram