Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Can I help China?

I was reading the China issue of National Geographic last night and tossed and turned for hours following the article about the pollution of the Yellow River. (The image is from that issue of National Geographic).

In short, the Yellow River is being destroyed by over-use and pollution from the factories driving China's impressive growth. Because the Yellow River is a source of life for people, animals and agriculture along its winding path, all those who depend on it are also being killed.

While I certainly don't know what percentage of those factories produce the many goods that fill our house, I couldn't help but imagine that we are responsible for a share of the destruction.

Its a complex issue and these are just very simple thoughts on it. Who is ultimately responsible? Yes, the Chinese government and regulatory organizations. Yes, the companies and people that decide to pollute. Yes, the US companies that order products from the Chinese companies or their JVs. Yes, us, as consumers who buy the goods. Yes, us, as consumers who want to buy cheap, disposable and always more. So, yes, me.

So, I'm going to begin considering where my goods come from. I'm going to give it all a second thought - do we really need it? is it durable? does it look like the raw materials are sustainable? I'm going to make an effort to avoid retailers that depend heavily on China for cheap products and labor.

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