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512407054_796e2d1021_m.jpgI stopped buying from china a while ago. Between the pet food scandal, the child-toys horror stories, and stories of people in factories with unacceptable working conditions…. I’ve opted out. It’s not easy (just try opting out!) but there are fewer and fewer items with the Made In China label in my house.

Saturday I went to a warehouse sale for clothing items that are eco-friendly. Made with natural products and using soy/hemp instead of cotton (which apparently requires a lot of chemicals to be dumped on the soil) the brand was all about people feeling good because they were participating in changing the world plus giving their skin a better experience.

I found a great black turtleneck sweater (a staple in my wardrobe).

It was made in China.

I bought it anyways, but the feel-good factor plummetted.

Readers, here’s my question: Can we be truly eco-friendly, without being people-friendly? Why is it that we are increasingly oriented to Green, yet don’t make equal efforts to bring change in human rights and alleviating poverty?

About the Author


Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com

5 Comments

  1. I think that while it is true that green is everywhere so is the plight of Tibet, Dafur, child soldiers, factory slavery, genital mutilation in women, the seal hunt, the depletion of our oceans, terrorism, homelessness, drug addiction etc. It has got to the point for me that I just feel burned out and bummed out and think that we are a very sorry lot. I think you found the conflict in living today, no matter what we do it has an impact on someone, something. I will continue to do my best to live a balanced responsible life but that also includes finding the joy in life.

    [Reply]

    Apr 28, 2008
  2. I wonder if you can get some information about the factories in China where the clothing is made. Some companies do run ethical factories in China, which can be an important role in lifting the workers there out of poverty. Rare, but possible.

    [Reply]

    Apr 28, 2008
  3. You make an excellent case, Nancy. Begs the question – how much is enough? What kind of personal practices you need to change and which ones you can’t even though you want to?
    Good job though 🙂 Loved the post.

    [Reply]

    Apr 28, 2008
  4. Angela

    I do believe that if it’s done correctly, China should be benefited by the business. After all, my parents worked for such factories when they were in Hong Kong in the 1970s until they moved to Canada in the 1990s. While most of the Hong Kong people in my parents’ generation would have grown up in government subsidized housing, they could afford to buy a place of their own once they grew up thanks to those opportunities from the West. If it weren’t for my middle-class upbringing, I won’t be educated enough to leave comment on your blog.

    But what is happening now in China is that the opportunities have benefited only a small group of people, who are able to raise only one child at home in a city. Many of those children are spoiled. They have no idea how poor some of their countrymen could be; nor they understand how the outside world sees China.

    I’m sure that if China would have educated this group of young people to be better world citizens (not shipping them oversea to “support” the Olympic torch relay), the world would be a better place.

    And to answer your questions: well, I guess the first step is to stop going to dollar stores and buy those plastic crap just because they are cheap. Spend some more money to buy stuff that is more durable, and probably not made in China. But if there’s an item which is nice with a reasonable price, but made in China, I would still buy it. I don’t believe in not buy Chinese stuff totally — people there still need to eat no matter what. The last thing you want to happen is to see people going mad because of lack of food (that might happen… the price of rice is rising!) But if we could give China a signal that we won’t buy their stuff just because they are cheap, I guess it could be a first step.

    [Reply]

    Apr 28, 2008
  5. @MJ You’re right. We are aware, aren’t we – and it’s easy to get fatigued and overwhelmed. For whatever reason (we all know it will affect us personally?) the “green” choices seem more pressing and easy to make – in part because businesses have taken initiative on this in recent year (and while there is some greenwashing, some is legit, thank goodness).
    @William I can easily ask; I know some of the investors in the company. I figured they would have said so on the marketing pkg if it were ethically run, but perhaps not.
    @Raul I’m becoming increasingly radical, including wondering if I should purchase two, maybe three, top-quality outfits and those become my uniform (sort of like star trek! lol)
    @Angela Thanks so much for your comment. You bring a unique perspective. If you ever would care to write a guest post for me, I’d love to include it! Part of the issue is (as William pointed out) – I’d be happy to support factories that indeed are helping put food on the table and improving quality of life, but not factories who exploit their workers. It’s hard to figure out which is which.

    [Reply]

    Apr 29, 2008

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