Don’t get me wrong- having a very diverse wardrobe is a pretty awesome thing. Unfortunately, to be a downer, most of the clothing and apparel products in it will come from China. Supporting textile manufacturing in China over other countries hurts everyone in the long run. While you always hear politicians talk about the outsourced jobs to China (definitely a major concern in these tough economic times), very little debate has been had over the environmental impact of buying some Calvin Kline undershirts or Tommy Hilfiger ties from China.
If manufacturing clothing and apparel were Olympic Sports, China would easily win the Gold Medal. According to the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, China’s textile industry accounted for 52%-54% of the world’s total fiber processing. Textile and apparel exports from China account for 34% of the world’s total exports. Simply put, China absolutely dominates every other country in this category. While this may enable a cheaper product for the consumer, it costs the world a lot more than the $20 saved on a pair of Levi Jeans (Once again, not to even mention the American job market).
The textile and apparel industry in China is one of the country’s biggest polluters- quite an achievement in the country that is the world leader of CO2 emissions. While they have put in place certain regulations, the country does not have the ability to enforce most of them. Violations of rules for water pollution are the most often abused, many times with companies funneling pollutants from the factories directly into rivers via secret underground pipes. Major companies such as H&M, Nike, Wal-Mart, and Levi’s have all violated the regulations of pollution in China.
A Gallup poll released on June 8th, 2012 shows that 57% of Chinese citizens believe that protection of the environment should be given the priority- even at the risk of slowing the economy.
However, a different poll shows that only 32% of Chinese citizens consider global warming or climate change to be a serious threat. The reason behind the variance of these numbers is very interesting to consider. Though probably a lack of proper education is a main cause, most citizens have realized that the decay of their environment is a bad progression that should be reversed.
Thomas Grey, an English poet in the 18th century, once wrote, “Ignorance is bliss.” One has to ask themselves- is it?