There isn’t a day in the past few months where lead or other toxic ingredients have found their way in consumer related products originating from China. But you have to ask yourself… what exactly are you surprised about?
Why are Chinese products so cheap?
Let’s backup for a moment, the reason why production of all sorts has moved from (name your country) to mostly China is due to cost. Well, you don’t get anything for nothing, these costs come at the expense of the environment, it’s citizens and most importantly to ourselves. Let me explain:
When you have very lax or non-existent environmental laws, there are some major savings to be granted to factories. No need for that sewage treatment plant, no need for the heavy metal recovery system and water is plentiful. Got a few extra cartons of materials or some garbage to dispose of, well, just burn it in the backyard. I saw this first hand when I was in Malaysia, people in smaller cities would bring their days garbage into the middle of the street and burn it, there where bond fires EVERYWHERE at night. What I found funny at the time was even after people where finished cutting their grass, instead of picking up the lawn clippings, they would get the blow torch… I kid you not! Now, this says nothing about the added pollution from bad coal firing plants, transportation costs and the list goes on.
Let’s call it what it is, the communist party, companies and a few select individuals are profiting from a large population of uneducated slaves coming from the countryside. I have heard second hand stories from quite a few company owners that did plant visits in factories to find out that hearing protection, eye protection, the basics in any factory setting where not even available! This says nothing about workers compensation, “living” at the factory in huge communes with this money being deducted form their pay and the list goes on. Are you willing to work 6 days a week, 16 hours a day for months on end? What is going on in China in factories across the country is nothing more then organized slavery that puts the European practice a few centuries ago to shame.
Local Economic Costs
With relatively high paying jobs being outsourced to the third world, local economies experience a fundamental shift. Costs go down, yes, but so do salaries and working standards for those who wish to keep their jobs. There is no surprise that big box retailers are making a fortune selling cheap “made in China” products but if people really knew the true cost of what those items cost, I am sure they would be repulsed.
It isn’t only China nor is it their fault
Now, this is definitely not an anti-China tirade, there is some very good businesses and entrepreneurs in China that do care about their production facilities, employees and so forth. These poor working conditions and environmental standards can be found around the globe, from the sweatshops of India and Bangladesh to the gold mines in South Africa. In an era where the cheapest production facility globally gets the business, China is the most diversified and hard working among them. For all of China’s faults, there are some positives as well, their society is quickly being transformed into a more educated populous. Their influence is rapidly expanding and best of all, they are forcing businesses around the world, especially in Italy, to become more efficient in the light of some heavy competition. To be honest, there are some very bad businesses even in the developed world, it just happens that China has a larger proportion due to their closed society and population size.
I have a very easy solution to all these problems, instead of using plastic to buy plastic at the local mega store, just buy yourself a few wood scraps, a jig saw with some sand paper and build your very own stuff! The cost will be cheaper then what even China can produce, the environmental effect will be relatively carbon neutral and best of all, you will have a wood marvel to pass on for generations to come. Woodcrafts are really not a difficult hobby to jump into, you can even use hand tools if you really want a challenge!
The Bottom Line
Learning woodcrafts is within everyones ability, environmentalism starts at home!