With many Americans leaning the direction of green, doing their best to recycle and reuse here in the U.S., some may be overlooking the label attached to the goods they purchase. It’s the one that reads, “Made in China.”
China’s cities continue to lead the world in pollution, and supposedly China is taking steps to change that, but are they doing enough?
China’s November stimulus package plan included funds for new water treatment facilities and plans for wind farms, but one has to wonder if U.S. consumers are partially to blame for the mess in China. By mess, I mean polluted water, smog, poisoning and even premature deaths.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. imported more than $23 million in China’s goods during June. It stands to reason that because China has bought several billion dollars of U.S. debt, we would in turn continue to import their very inexpensive goods. But at what cost and to whom?
Recently in the Hunan province of China, more than 1,000 children were found to have extremely high levels of lead poisoning because of a lead and zinc smelting plant. The smelting plant, owned by the Dongling Group, which exports some of its steel products to the U.S., was unlicensed and has since been shut down largely because of the worldwide media coverage. With regulation slips that go virtually unpunished and thousands of people that are affected by it, we should be leery about doing business with a country that continues to be the world leader in pollution. While China appears to be making an effort to clean up its act, it is still resistant to an agreement to lower greenhouse gases. This resistance should have American consumers concerned about the goods we purchase from China.
Maybe the reason we are so lax in our attitudes is because we don’t see their pollution. If we were forced to drink from their contaminated water or breathe in their caustic smog we might take action. I admit, I am guilty of it myself. Very rarely do I pick up an item and search for the “Made in” tag, but with so many suffering from our mass consumption, it’s time to change that. If one by one we started to think about where our products come from and who is affected by the manufacturing of those products, then we as consumers might make wiser purchasing decisions and collectively force China into a position to take serious action.
In order to truly go green and have a positive impact on the environment we have to start thinking outside the boundaries of the U.S. We have to be conscious of how even the smallest items we purchase can cause a damaging chain reaction a continent away. This is what it means to green on a global scale.
Diana J. Combs is a sophomore graphic design and news-editorial journalism major from Keller.