This is a guest post from Tom Szaky, the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, the world’s first company that manufactures and packages products from garbage.
We’ve all heard it on the radio or seen it on TV: “Sell your gold for cash, fast!” This phrase makes people leery of the gold buying industry and reinforces the misconception that the gold buying interest is simply the pursuit of profit and ripping people off.
But with the environmental consequences of mining virgin gold and other precious metals, a closer look shows that the gold buying industry is not entirely built upon profit and actually provides an eco-alternative to mining.
Mining PollutionWhen you sell back your gold, you are essentially selling it back to be reused or recycled. With the gold that you sell back, the gold industry now has gold to work with and can skip the harmful step of mining from the Earth and disrupting ecosystems and natural habitats. The mining industry does have sustainability standards that evaluate the availability of resources, pollution, and effect on community, but the fact is that regardless of standards set in place, any time the Earth is mined for its good it is harmful to both the planet and the air.
Especially with small scale gold mining and artisanal gold work, a considerable amount of mercury is released into the air. According to the EPA, the “considerable amount” is 400 million tons. The EPA, along with Argonne National Laboratory, has come up with a way of reducing the mercury pollution. This deserves applause and I’m always glad to see industries making strides to reduce their pollution.
Still, the fact remains that if a company is getting gold or silver from people selling it back to the industry rather than from the Earth, the buyback is the most sustainable way, because it doesn’t harm the Earth at all and there is no output of pollution from the collection.
Making the Gold Industry More GreenWhen TerraCycle had the chance to partner with a jewelry buy-back company and help make the gold industry a little greener, we had to jump at the chance. We partnered with John Galt Refining and Sellyourgold.com because they are eco-minded and thinking towards the green future of the gold industry.
They were as the most secure and reputable source for selling gold, as well as the highest paying, by an investigative report on "The Today Show," and in addition to partnering with TerraCycle, they are also interested in starting an environmental jewelry line made from recycled gold and silver.
The partnership will allow more silver and gold to be recycled into jewelry so that less precious metal has to be extracted from the Earth, and it will also allow money to be raised for charity. 2% of the offer price is donated to the charity of the sellers’ choice – separate from the appraisal. Since sellers can choose from any non-profit, they can choose organizations that help communities damaged by mining – in both environmental and social senses.
The Bottom Line of Green JewelryThere are other companies that feature recycled jewelry, such as Brilliantearth.com and greenkarat.com , but to me the optimal solution is having both the gold collection and the recycled jewelry side by side, so consumers can see where their old jewelry is going and be reminded of the positive environmental impact they’re making. The more people sell back their gold, the more possibility there is for recycled jewelry, and less metal will need to be mined for new jewelry. A program in which consumers can understand why the selling back of gold is important is absolutely crucial.
I’m interested to hear whether knowing all this changes people’s opinions of the gold buying industry. Not only that, but what are other unexpected ways, or unexpected industries and companies, that are doing environmental good, or other things that may not be considered green but may be having a hidden positive impact?