of cash-for-gold services if they realized that by doing so, they are also helping to save the environment from the harmful effects of gold mining.
Though many imagine gold miners crouched over a stream panning for gold, or perhaps descending into a dark, underground mine with a safety helmet and pick-axe, today most gold is mined using an open-pit method, where brush, trees and other natural resources are cleared and then the gold ore is blasted out of the ground.
The resulting rubble, or ore, is then treated chemically, often with cyanide, to leach the gold out; although environmental measures are supposed to be used, trace amounts of cyanide, arsenic, mercy and other toxic chemicals end up draining into the ground, affecting drinking water and having deadly effects on the human, animal and plant life in the vicinity.
Even in the United States, where environmental standards are high, metal mining in general is one of the most heavily-polluting industries. In third world countries, the damage done isn't limited to the environment; human rights violations, child labor and dangerous working conditions abound.
There is an international movement to end these destructive practices and promote responsible gold mining; the efforts include encouraging jewelers and retailers to only use clean gold, which is defined as gold from environmentally and socially responsible mining companies.
The other thing that can help end these practices is the continued recycling of gold.
Currently, about one third of all gold in use comes from recycled gold; less than ten percent comes from worldwide gold banks, with the rest coming from mining activities.
An increase in the collection of gold from recycling, whether from jewelry, electronic components, dental work, or any of the other myriad items that contain gold but are no longer in use, would add more gold to the available inventory and cut down on the demand from unscrupulous mining operations.
Calculations by industry experts have determined that the mining of enough gold to produce a single gold wedding band produces twenty tons of waste; the flip side of this is that selling an old gold ring for cash is not only profitable, but prevents that amount of waste. Selling old gold jewelry is an extremely environmentally-conscious act.
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