The environment and China are locked in a symbiotic relationship, one we will all be involved in and be accountable for, to generations to come.
The Olympics (way to go, Michael Phelps!) have highlighted something most people already know: the development of China in such a short period of time is having a profound effect on the environment. Could it be that this is the beginning of seeing Olympians walking around with masks to protect them from bad air? And if so, what to do . . . ask China to stop developing, stop progressing? Ask people who have clearly sacrificed and lived more simply than most Westerners to “just stop” for the good of us all?
Well that wouldn’t be very fair, now would it? Clearly China will have to do their part in terms of creating cleaner manufacturing methods. Certainly there are steps the rest of us can take to work to decrease the necessary manufacturing in China, in the meantime. Let us propose the simplest, most effective, budget-saving method we can all do — beginning today — to help decrease the environmental wear-and-tear being inflicted by increases in manufacturing: restraint.
Sara Bongiorni’s book, A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy highlights the sheer volume of what we purchase every year from China, as well as the increasing cost of purchasing from anywhere else. This should bother all of us, but let’s set that aside for now.
What we are suggesting is not to stop purchasing anything “Made in China”, (which is a very difficult thing to do) we’re suggesting to show restraint in purchases. Anyone who is a parent can easily look around their house and gasp at the amount of plastic unnecessaries. Tons of toys, more clothes than drawer space. And if you don’t have children, it’s not difficult to relate. Most of us have far more than we need. Heck, most of us buy things without ever questioning whether the purchase is really necessary, whether the amount of time worked for that amount of money is worth the sheer joy you will receive from that sweater, that Wii, that twenty-sixth shade of pink lipstick.
China is manufacturing for the Western world, they are not manufacturing plastic tchochkies for themselves. Not for their Happy Meals. Not for their nineteenth necklace. But for ours. And while it wouldn’t be fair to ask a developing country to stop developing, it is simple supply and demand economics that will necessitate them to slow down when we stop purchasing things we don’t really need.
Save money. Save the environment. Save space in your drawers. It’s that simple.