WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 — In recent weeks, hundreds of Costco customers have flooded Costco’s Facebook page to urge them to reject “dirty” or irresponsibly mined gold and to commit to switching to more ethically produced metals. The wholesale chain — one of the nation’s leading jewelry retailers– has failed to respond, and environmental and human rights campaigners are turning up the heat.
This week, Earthworks’ No Dirty Gold Campaign and change.org are urging Costco customers to call the company’s headquarters in Issiquah, WA, to tell CEO James Sinegal it’s time to sign the Golden Rules, principles for more responsible mining that respect human rights, adopt fair labor standards, and minimize harm to the environment. To date, more than 80 leading jewelry retailers including Sears/Kmart, Target, and Tiffany & Co. have signed on to the Golden Rules principles. Customers are asking why Costco is lagging behind other major retailers in ensuring that the gold it sells is not tainted with human rights abuses or pollution.
“Right now, Costco cannot tell its customers whether the gold in their display cases is coming at the cost of safe working conditions or from mines with cyanide spills that are poisoning communities’ drinking water,” said Nick Magel, coordinator of the No Dirty Gold campaign. “Costco customers deserve better, and communities near mine sites deserve better.”
In the last six months, more than 40,000 people have signed a petition and written letters urging Costco to sign on to the No Dirty Gold campaigns’ 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. (The other is Macy’s.) Costco, which made $1.3 billion in profits last year, has thus far remained silent on the matter. Costco’s customers deserve to know whether the gold they’re buying was mined under safe working conditions, or came at the cost of human rights, or harmed the environment.
“Costco’s silence is deafening,” said Payal Sampat, Director of the No Dirty Gold Campaign. “It’s time for Costco to listen to their customers call for clean gold and sign the Golden Rules.”
Here are some unedited comments excerpted from among hundreds posted by concerned customers on Costco’s Facebook page:
“What does it cost in human health and conditions to save a few dollars on your gold jewelry?”
“I will not shop for jewelery at Costo [sic] until such time as it signs on to the No Dirty Gold Campaigns Golden Rules. I will not renew my membership unless Costco takes this action.”
“Costco, show me you care about human rights, ending child labor, and protecting the environment. Sign the Golden Rules! And then — here’s where it gets tricky — FOLLOW THEM. (We’ll find out if you don’t.)”
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