A newly engaged London couple, dressed as bride and groom, will lead a petition march along Oxford Street tomorrow morning, to call on jewellers to take action to ensure the gold they sell is mined ethically. The couple will be joined by a giant gold bar as best man and the three CAFOD 'golden girl' ridesmaids. A twenty strong congregation of CAFOD campaigners will carry a 100 metre long signed gold chain petition to deliver to jewellery retailer Argos on New Oxford Street. Picture editor Zoe Gahan and actor and programme researcher Mathieu Laroche, both 30-years old from Shepherd's Bush, are set to marry in July next year. They want to seal their commitment with wedding bands made from gold they know has not led to communities being forcibly relocated or water sources being polluted. They said: "We want to be proud of our wedding bands, not feel guilty wearing them." The walk from Oxford Circus tube starts at 10.30am, finishing at Argos at 106 New Oxford Street as the bride and groom hand in the 100 metre gold chain petition to Argos (between 11am and 11.30am). Why is this happening? The exchanging of gold rings often symbolises romance, love and commitment. However, gold mining has been closely linked with conflict, corruption, environmental destruction and social problems for those working in and living near mines. Zoe's interest in ethical gold was sparked in 2000 when she visited a gold mine in Indonesia while working in the country. She said: "I was shocked by the level of destruction it caused. I never thought twice about how gold was mined before. But there I met people who had been forced from their homes to make way for the mine, the rainforest was torn down and rivers had been polluted with mercury." The stunt aims to raise awareness of CAFOD's Unearth Justice campaign, which is calling on UK high street jewellers to sign up to the 'Golden Rules', twelve principles for ensuring that gold mining does not destroy communities and the environment, and to work to ensure the gold they sell has been responsibly mined. Zoe said: "It's about time people became more aware of just how dirty gold mining can be. When I saw CAFOD had launched the Unearth Justice campaign we signed up immediately. Similar campaigns using consumer power have helped change conditions in clothes factories in poor countries and putting an end to conflict diamonds, now it's time people know gold is not as shiny as it seems." Source: CAFOD
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