Are Healing Crystals Sustainable? Here's What You Need to Know
Healing crystals may be pretty (and perhaps even powerful), but the industry's popularity is far from sustainable. Here's why you should rethink the self-care tool.
The wellness industry comes with a wealth of accessories, from self-care products to spiritually-minded items like smudge sticks, tarot and oracle cards, and, of course, crystals.
Used for everything from clearing negative energy and offering protection to boosting creativity and self-love, healing crystals have experienced a surge in popularity in keeping with wellness' rise. In fact, according to CNBC, searches for the term "crystal healing" have increased by 65% over the last decade.
Single crystals can sell for exorbitant sums, and crystals of all kinds maintain and even accrue value as the non-renewable resource continues to grow in popularity.
But what exactly are healing crystals—and are they sustainable?
What Are Healing Crystals?
Healing crystals are minerals that some believe contain or promote metaphysical properties. Crystals have been employed for medicinal and spiritual use for centuries, with the 1970s sparking a modern want of quartz and other minerals thought to aid in transcendence and ascension—along with some eye-catching home decor.
In recent years, the burgeoning wellness industry—valued at $4.2 trillion globally as of 2019—has created a mass market for healing crystals, a previously niche industry. And as we know, booming trends can be a recipe for less-than-sustainable practices.
Are Crystals Sustainable?
As with most things, the sustainability of your crystal collection depends on many factors, with mindfulness (ironically) being the common thread.
Crystals may be pretty and potentially powerful, but that energy comes from their origins in the Earth's crust. Collecting crystals from the planet's interior requires environmentally damaging mining, human exploitation, and a wholesale lack of transparency, making the grounding qualities that come with your spirit quartz and citrine questionable at best.
Still, it seems that the sparkling stones are likely here to stay, meaning that now is the perfect time to raise awareness around their realities. Read on for five things to consider if you're looking to grow your crystal collection—or perhaps rethink it entirely.
5 Things to Keep In Mind When Buying (or Not Buying) Healing Crystals
1. Is Traceability Possible?
Unfortunately, the answer is usually no. Even those in the trade have a difficult time determining exactly how, where, when, and by whom crystals were sourced.
Attending a gem show (like the world-famous Tucson Gem and Mineral Show in Arizona) allows you to attend seminars, further your own knowledge, and speak to dealers directly about sourcing, allowing you to decide for yourself where (and if) to further your collection.
2. Mining Crystals Comes at an Environmental Cost
Demand for crystals means an increase in irresponsible practices to increase the supply. This means more mining, which results in the pollution of air and waterways, along with dramatic and invasive effects on landscape, wildlife, and overall biodiversity.
3. There's a Human Cost, Too
The mining of crystals defines the lives of those who live in the surrounding areas, upending human ecosystems and resulting in exploitation. Many of the most popular minerals come from Third World countries (think Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo) where the stones are mined minus regulations around working conditions.
According to The Guardian, children as young as seven years old work to mine stones like citrine and smokey quartz from the Congo's cobalt and copper mines, while "the Taliban earns up to $20 million a year from Afghanistan’s lapis mines."
4. Crystals Are Non-Renewable
Though crystals are naturally occurring, they're also a non-renewable resource. If we keep extracting the minerals at our current rate, we will eventually run out of them altogether.
5. Do You Really Need That Crystal?
Pause for a moment and let your intuition be your guide.
If you're interested in a crystal for its decorative beauty, consider opting for a flowering houseplant or even a handmade piece of art or sculpture. And if it's healing your after, keep the mineral's entire journey in mind—you may feel a call to invest in another means of self-care.
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