Tag Archives: Air pollution

Stop for a second, be thankful (and pick up that trash)

It’s that time of year when we stop for a second, and remind ourselves of all the wonderful things and people we are thankful for. Today, I am thankful for hiking in a state park, Miss Swift’s 1989 blasting through crystal-clear-sounding headphones on an empty trail where no one can see me dance.

On the other hand, not so thankful for all the people who seem to think it’s ok to throw trash around them. Today I had an especially interesting find; a flower that does not belong in a Texas state park.

IMG_3546So many questions racing through my mind! Did the person who dropped this in nature even notice? Or simply decide to not pick it up? Who takes a plastic flower with them to the park? I couldn’t help but wonder (like Carrie would have said); does this person have any idea about the resources spent manufacturing the raw materials, assembling the decoration and then transporting it here from China?

I decided to pick it up, just like I do with other trash on the trail (eco-maniac, I know). I left it in a common area with hopes that someone would like it (hey, no judging on other people’s taste!) and take it home. If I had thrown it away, it had gone straight to landfill. What a waste of our earth’s resources.

And, a reminder, today is Small Business Saturday (Nov. 29)! A day to get out of the mall and instead support your local economy and neighbors. While you’re at it, shopping small, pick something locally made. Whatever you buy, I hope you don’t lose it in the park.

You just don’t know how scary it is

IMG_23052222I always see this ad in the flight-magazine when I travel Southwest. “Overseas Manufacturing isn’t as scary as you think”. Really, what do you think, I think?

Here are four reasons as to why it’s actually pretty, darn scary (and why this company should start looking for other expertise since they will be out of business sooner or later)

1. The clothing factory in Bangladesh that collapsed in 2013 and killed over 1,100 uninsured employees. On top of that, over 2,500 were injured.

2. That Pakistan is the most polluted country in the world. Pollution PM 2.5 levels are at 101 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter). Recommended value for not risking premature death or chronic diseases, looking at annual average, is 15 μg/m3 (*)

3.The American Embassy in Beijing reports that PM 2.5 pollution levels often hit over 500 μg/m3 short term. At these conditions, children can’t go to school as it is a threat to their health.

4.Container ships (that bring all the goods over here) are associated with serious environmental threats such as greenhouse emissions, nitrogen- and sulfur oxide emissions (which cause acid rain), disruption of maritime life, and oil spills.

Enough said. Shop local!

(*)Particulates less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5) are referred to as “fine” particulates and are believed to pose the largest health risks. Read more about pollution and how it is measured here

Pollution is in your shopping bag too

The World Health Organization (WHO), reports that an estimated 3.7 million people die every year as a result of air pollution exposure, making air pollution the world’s single largest environmental health risk.

On this link to NBC News, there is a video showing air quality in a northeastern town in China, in a heavy industrialized area. The factories and power plants (which mostly burn coal) don’t clean their exhausts at all there, leading to days like this one, when people can’t be outside.

So think about it. Most of what you own is made there. Think about all the decorations, kitchen wear, clothes and shoes you recently picked up because you felt liked it, bored at the mall, whatever, that were probably made in China. The overconsumption of goods in America (and other countries) is polluting the lives of people on the other side of the ocean. Not a big deal that you bought those sneakers? Well, what is needed to run a factory? Energy. Produced in a coal plant. The more manufacturing one does in one place, the higher the energy demand, the higher the pollution.

And then there is that huge ship with all the containers, polluting the world while on its way with brand name sneakers across the pacific.

They more you shop and the more you shop Made in China, the more you personally contribute to the health problems of the people in that video and the overall pollution problem on earth. Think about it.

All the money you will be saving…!

I believe the general perception is that one might need a lot of money to buy “not made in China” items.

It is true that American made products cost more. Cost being defined as “cash out of pocket needed to become the owner of an item”. Not cost for the environment, the world’s resources etc. US products cost more because it costs more to make them (labor, utilities, raw materials, facilities , regulations etc). That makes sense.

However, I like to think about all the money I am actually saving by saying no to Chinese goods. I am sure I am not the only one who sometimes buy things I don’t need.

For example, you know when you stand in line at Starbucks and see a vintage style mug you don’t need but kind of want? Well, you will be saving 10 bucks right there since the label will say made in China.

Maybe you are eyeing another fashionable smartphone case (for your Chinese smartphone). Read the label and it’s a no go! Cute jewelry by the checkout of your favorite store…another fluffy animal for the baby…. You get the picture.

Most likely around 80% of your impulse purchases will stop. Less consumerism, no need for more storage room and more money in your pocket! It’s a win-win! (Your hubby will love the new you! LOL)

Oh, the choices we make (go ahead, ask questions!)

People sometimes ask me if I have thrown away everything I own from China. Of course not. That would be even worse for the environment and contribute even more to the American over-consumption (which makes me sad when I think about it) as I would have to buy new lamps, shirts, sneakers, pillows, kitchen stuff, crafts…..

No – my already purchased “made in China” will be worn and worn out! My favorite shirt in the world is made in China. I didn’t check the label as I bought it last year. Today, I would have checked and passed. Could I have lived without it? Yes. Do I love it still? Yes. Hey it’s never too late to make better, more enlightened choices. The past never decides the future.

Dying to know more about the shirt? It’s from China-central also known as J.Crew. It’s a fine knit in off white with tiny orangey fruits on it. Vintage and adorable.

J.crew shirt