As I approached the purse section of the quintessentially teenage store, I was pleased to see that a few organic cotton tote bags with decals of phrases about being green were included in the collection. I picked up a bag to admire, and that’s when I saw it – a tag bearing the words “Made in China.”
Allow me to begin by saying that I am big fan of the so-called “green revolution,” and I commend anyone who makes an effort to live in a more environmentally conscious manner. I even applaud companies whose merchandise is made in an eco-friendly spirit.
However, the purses that I saw in that store struck me not as eco-friendly in spirit, but as a cheap ploy to capitalize on the increasingly green awareness of the teenage population. In fact, I will go as far as saying that they contradicted the true spirit of the movement.
First of all, the foundation of the green movement is based upon a regard for the well-being of all of humanity. “Going green” is a very unselfish, globally-minded thing to do; it shows an understanding of the impact that a person’s actions can have upon the lives of others. As I see it, producing goods in China for the sake of exploiting cheap labor to save some money is actually quite selfish of these manufacturers.
It might seem bold to assume that Chinese workers are, in fact, being exploited in the production of these bags, but American companies would really have no reason to ship goods halfway across the world unless they were somehow saving money. Plus, it is no secret that Chinese manufacturers are not exactly champions of human rights.
This exportation of manufacturing is also detrimental to the environment. Shipping goods from China to the United States requires the use of gasoline, meaning that valuable energy is wasted as atmospheric pollution increases.
So what exactly do I propose that corporations looking to take part in the green movement do? To begin, they can use recycled materials for as many products as possible. For example, the makers of the Made-in-China purses can save the organic cotton for clothing and make the purses out of used cloth and paper.
Companies can also make it a long-term goal to lessen their dependence on foreign labor. Although this requires a partial reversal of the complicated economic system created by globalization, it is certainly an aim worth pursuing. After all, Americans are in need of jobs now more than ever.
Basically, corporations must recognize that the best way to benefit from the green movement is to become more environmentally conscious themselves. This simply cannot be done by taking shortcuts to maximize profits.
As green consumers, we must hold companies to high standards, settling for nothing less than what we know is really good for the world at large. We should use as our mantra that popular quote with ambiguous origins – “Think globally, act locally.”