Even in the best conditions, gold mining is detrimental to the environment. It destroys forests, consumes vast amounts of water, and generates chemical pollution. From a human perspective, the consequences can be equally catastrophic, from hazardous working conditions to illicit mining and the funding of illegal activities. Labels such as Fairmined and Fairtrade have helped bring about considerable improvements to the human aspect of gold mining, but they concern only a tiny proportion of production – just a few kilograms a year – and cannot guarantee that cyanide and mercury – toxic chemicals that separate gold from rock – will not be used. No-one can blame the miners: recovering gold without them is a much slower, more complex process. What we can do, however, is to step back, think further, and choose an alternative for today and for the long term too.