Mica mining should be ethically sourced

Recent makeup trends can be categorized by the catch phrase “creating the most golden you.” The ability to be golden requires three things: sparkle, shimmer and shine.

Whether or not you choose to go with a natural glow or full-on Jeffree Star glam, you see it everywhere.

Walk into Ulta or Sephora or even Walmart’s beauty aisle, and you’ll see the trademarked highlighter pallets, liquid glitter eyeshadows, light pink blushes and shimmer face mist.

I am a sucker for any Anastasia highlighter pallet and will slap glitter all over my eyelids without a second thought.

However, I recently discovered a video published last May by Refinery 29. The video opened with a shocking clip of a young child digging in a mine.

Refinery 29 published an investigative piece on one of the key ingredients in almost all beauty products: the mineral mica.

Mica adds shine to cosmetic products, but it can also be readily found in electronics, car paint, concrete, airplanes, wallpapers and so much more.

I began to research further the extraction of mica and found that very few news outlets have published stories regarding the “resource cursed” areas in which people mine for mica.

Those who did often had more popularity in Europe rather than the U.S.

Each story discussed the process of mica mining, elaborating that it is often children, many as young as 4, sifting through mines to find mica in countries such as India, Madagascar and Brazil, where labor costs are comparatively low.

After mica is found, families will sell it to distributers who ship the mica overseas.

China often buys mica from these distributors, paying workers an estimated 12 cents per kilo, or two cents per pound.

While the obvious problem here is the violation of human, specifically children’s, rights, it is also the lack of sustainable supply-chain management.

The families who mine mica need work to put food on the table, but, as NBC explains, workers are paid so little that there is no escaping an endless loop of poverty.

The high number of transport steps before mica reaches a U.S. consumer results in little to no checks and balances.

If we decided to boycott mica immediately, it would be nearly impossible, and it would only leave families with no work.

Companies need to fight for higher wages for miners and ensure mica is ethically sourced by sending representatives from the beginning of the supply-chain to the end.

Even better, giving power to the miners would help tremendously.

Allowing them to sell the mica themselves rather than just being a station on a path would allow for a decrease in child labor and in an
increase in the standard of living for many of these villages.

Additionally, funding has begun to come from companies like Estee Lauder, who give the parents of child miners sustainable jobs, thus helping those families enroll their children in school.

The interconnection of so many social issues begins with big businesses taking responsibility for their product and us as consumers demanding so.

This change is not impossible.

Companies like Lush have already begun to ethically source all their ingredients after protests in the U.K.

It is most important to recognize equity is attainable – we just have to be willing to demand it.

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