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Costco On the Spot as Customers Raise Concerns about Human Rights, Fair Labor, and Environmental Protection in Gold Products

June 30 — Hundreds of people flooded Costco's Facebook page on Thursday, calling for the company to sign on to the No Dirty Gold campaign's Golden Rules criteria for more responsible metals sourcing. The online outburst grew from 50 posts on Tuesday to over 600 as of Thursday afternoon, and still continues to build. Since late March this year, more than 25,000 people have written letters urging Costco to sign on to the Golden Rules and to take a stand against irresponsible mining practices.

Costco is one of only two top 10 US gold retailers that has not yet signed the Golden Rules principles for more responsible mining mining practices that respect human rights, adopt fair labor standards, and minimize harm to the environment. Costco, which made $1.3 billion in profits last year, has thus far remained silent on the matter.

“Costco's customers want to know whether Costco is taking the steps necessary to provide them with gold products that did not come at the expense of human rights or clean water. Their customers deserve better, as do communities impacted by irresponsible gold mining practices,” said Nick Magel, coordinator of Earthworks' No Dirty Gold campaign.

The Golden Rules criteria have been signed on to by some of the largest gold jewelry retailers in the world, including Tiffany and Company, Sears/Kmart and Target.

The public pressure for Costco to sign on to the Golden Rules come on the heels of an explosive documentary from UK's Channel 4, Dispatches, in which major retailers like Argos were exposed misleading customers as to the origins of the gold they were purchasing.

Payal Sampat, director of the No Dirty Gold Campaign, added: “Costco's silence in the face of consumer outrage is deafening. It's time for Costco to listen to their customers' call for clean gold and sign the Golden Rules.”

U.S. Jewelry & Watch Sales, 2009





Sterling Jewelers*


Zale Corp.*


Macy's Inc.


Tiffany & Co.*




Sears Holdings (incl. Kmart)*


J.C. Penney*


Costco Wholesale Corp.




* indicates signatory to the No Dirty Gold campaign's “Golden Rules”
Source: National Jeweler, “State of the Majors”, May 16, 2010

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