A deep dive into the bloody mines of the Healing Crystal industry

New Age spirituality has never been my thing. If you're into it, hey, that's cool; it's just not for me. I don't really stay up nights worrying about it, and I certainly haven't given much thought to healing crystals. I've never considered what they do, or where they come from.

But someone has thought about this (besides the people profiting off of it). In May 2018, the New Republic published an article tracing the sources of these supposedly-powerful stones. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it's shadier than one might expect:

I tried to track down the sources of crystals sold on popular websites. I found that some were mined in countries with notoriously lax labor and environmental regulations, and some came from large-scale U.S. mines that have contaminated ecosystems and drinking water. The impacts of extracting crystals are admittedly low compared to those of industrial gold, copper, granite, or rare earth mining, but crystals have gone from a new-age fad to a multi-billion dollar industry. And given that crystals can be used to "make a promise to mama earth," it would seem important to know how they were extracted from mama earth.

While healing crystals are still a ways away from Blood Diamond levels of volatility, it turns out that many of them do come from ethically questionable mines, often in places like Myanmar or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even more fascinating is what author Emily Atkin finds about supply lines, distributor relationships, and regulatory standards (or a lack thereof) for those little gems of spirituality.

I never thought I'd recommend reading up on healing crystals, but here we are: it's worth it.

"Do you know where you healing crystals come from?" [Emily Atkin/The New Republic]

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