Sure, They're Beautiful (& Make You Feel Like A Goddess). But Are Crystals Ethical?

January 11, 2019

Crystals are currently all the rage in the wellness world—you’ll find them everywhere from yoga studios to spas to the Instagram feed of your favorite holistic life coach. It seems like everyone who is trying to level up their lives and healthy habits has a favorite crystal or two, and whether they’re using them in witchy rituals, keeping one in their pocket for its rumored helpful properties, or just like having them around for decoration, one thing is clear—if you happen to frequent these spaces, you’re probably at least a little curious about the crystal craze. 


It’s important to note that you’re not going to find a scientific study confirming that crystals have any specific healing properties, but there’s no harm in holding on to a few as good luck charms or reminders of certain qualities that you want to cultivate in your life—right? Unfortunately, this might not be the case—not because there’s anything inherently wrong with crystals themselves, but because many of the crystals that you see popping up in New Age circles are actually the product of unethical mining practices. If we’re going to bring a certain product into a space that is meant for healing and positive energy, then it’s crucial to understand where it’s coming from and how it was obtained. 

For starters, many crystals are mined in countries where the labor laws barely protect workers’ rights at all, and where environmental regulations are rarely enforced. This means that workers are likely being exploited on the job, and the local ecosystems are being harmed, too. Unless a seller directly lists their source, and you’re able to research the conditions there, there’s no way of ensuring that your crystals were actually extracted through ethical means. It’s difficult for sellers to track the entire supply chain, even if they wanted to—especially since mines solely dedicated to extracting crystals aren’t the norm. Many of the crystals on the market are essentially byproducts from gold, copper, or cobalt mines. 


So, what if you still adore crystals, but you want to make sure that you’re not supporting unethical practices with your purchases? Well, you could start by simply looking at the natural world around you—sure, you’re not going to stumble across an exquisite piece of jasper or rose quartz in your backyard, but if you want to collect interesting rocks, stones, shells, or even sea glass, you’ll know exactly where it’s coming from, and you can imbue it with your own sense of meaning. Plus, it’s totally free! Crystals can definitely get expensive, so poking around your neighborhood and exploring what Mother Nature has to offer can help you become more in turn with your natural surroundings and save a little money in the process. 

What if you’re super attached to the aesthetic of crystals, and you feel like you need the real deal? If this sounds like you, there are a few things you can do to obtain your crystals ethically. In many states, you have the option of visiting sites where you can legally “mine your own” crystals. These “mines” generally have a low environmental impact, and once again, you’ll know exactly how your crystals were excavated—because you’ll be the one doing the work! This could definitely be a fun adventure for a day trip. If you don’t have the time to go out of town and get your crystals the DIY way, commit to only buying crystals from sellers who can verify where they’re getting their materials from. That way, you know exactly what your dollars are going towards. Yes, it could end up costing you a bit more than previous crystal purchases—but it’s worth it for peace of mind.


Overall, it’s important to have high standards for the products and tools that are promoted within the world of wellness. After all, wellness isn’t just about the individual—if our own healing is coming at the expense of someone else’s pain, can we really call it healing? If a healing crystal was extracted by a worker who is being exploited, through a method that is actively harming the earth, is it really a “healing” crystal? 

This points to a larger issue: spiritual bypassing. Sometimes, we think that if we just buy the right tools—whether they’re crystals, incense, mala beads, you name it—we’ll be making progress down our own spiritual path. But when it comes to collective healing—especially at a time of environmental crisis—we can make real progress by treating our planet with respect and prioritizing sustainability over convenience and consumerism. 

Also by Jane: Burning Sage To Cleanse Your Space? Why You’ll Want To Think Twice

Related: Working Through Issues? Why Floral Essences Might Heal You Better Than Crystals

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Jane Harkness is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. She writes about veganism, travel, and wellness, and her writing has been published on platforms like Thought Catalog, Student Universe, The Financial Diet, and Wholesome Culture. She blogs daily on Medium, and you can check out more of her work on her website.


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