How Smoggy Skies in China Changed the Way Our Family Shops – Along with all the other international news raging right now, you might have missed the recent concerns with the increasing spikes in pollution levels of Beijing’s air. If you’re used to hearing that “oh, that’s just those crazy environmentalists talking,” know that that isn’t the case here; it’s a serious problem that affects millions of lives. But it’s also one that is easy to disconnect from, due to both distance and lack of information on our part. And yet, this tragedy is linked intrinsically with our demand for “more, more, more” while costing “less, less, less.” Since we can turn to China to pump out more for less, we are happy, but fail to consider the consequences that may have indirectly pushed for. Stephanie’s post offers some helpful insights.
“So let’s go back to those three little words, and try to imagine what exactly it looks like for products to be “Made in China.” Already providing goods for a nation of 1.3 billion souls (1/5 of the current world population… let that alone sink in for just a moment), the most populous country on earth also manufactures an enormous percentage of the goods produced in the world. (1, 2, 3)
I’ll confess to being among the many for whom those numbers still don’t mean much. It wasn’t until I physically went to China, saw the vast cities spread farther than the eye can see, and smokestacks spewing pollution straight up into the middle of the metropolis that I better understood.
In most cities, the air was so thick with smog we could see its hazy presence, like a fog that wouldn’t burn off, or like hanging out in a room with 100 smokers. It dimmed the sun so much we could stare directly in midday without having to avert our eyes from the glare, and occasionally we felt the burn in our lungs when we breathed deep.”
“As I watched a smokestack puffing chemicals up into the air my children were breathing one day, the air that the adorable black haired, brown eyed, giggling and innocent children we met in China were also breathing, I realized… I’ve contributed to this problem.”
“Yet I’m quite certain I buy my fair share of items that are manufactured, either in part or in whole, in this behemoth of a manufacturing industry. So try as I might, I can’t shake the knowledge that what equates to a “good deal” for me might also equate to sucking in a lungful of illness-inducing nastiness for someone else across the world.”
“China doesn’t deserve to be vilified (and for all of their issues, they’re also implementing energy-saving and pollution-reducing policies that most of us would be loathe to make, like strict regulations that restrict central heating below a certain latitude, or alternating days on which you can drive your car). Not to mention the fact that a small percentage of products made in China are done so in a responsible and ethical manner.
That said, our desire for more and cheaper, cheaper and more, has stimulated a market for fast and furious production of poorly made items across the globe, which can be bought for mere dollars and then break within weeks or months.”
“The way we buy things needs to take into account more than meets our eye. There’s a bigger picture going on here.
Our travels this year taught us many things, but among them was the fact that our buying and lifestyle decisions don’t end with our bank account balance or at the foot of our driveway. They reach far and wide.
They impact issues like air, water and soil pollution around the globe. They fuel evil corporations that oppress people and destroy communities. They foster the modern day slave trade.”
Stephanie then offers five suggestions for more conscientious buying. You can read the rest of the article here.
Calm mom: be what you want to see – This is such a good encouragement from an older mom of many. But also something that, in the moment, is quite challenging!
“One of the hardest things in the world to do as a parent is to keep from ‘going there’ along with your kids when they’re losing it big time and spilling their frustration all over you. Maybe your two year old is flailing on the kitchen floor because you won’t give him a cookie before dinner, or your 9 year old is stomping around mad over having to set the dinner table, or your 16 year old wants to go to the mall when he’s got mountains of homework. Here we are, doing our best to parent wisely, and there they are, spitting mad and sure we’re just being mean. It can be pretty darned tempting to lose your cool right alongside your kid, can’t it?”
“Because here’s the thing: no amount of logic is going to touch a really upset person at that moment. That kid is going to need to be heard and soothed before I will have much success steering him towards right behavior. It’s not about sanctioning rudeness– it’s about accepting where they are and sometimes being willing to wait to talk about what behavior is okay and what isn’t. Everyone returns to calm more quickly when they feel heard instead of squelched. And kids with very intense personalities, loss issues, or trauma backgrounds are going to need a whole lot more time and help getting to calm before successful correction and redirection can happen.”
“SO–what kinds of things can help us BE the calm that we wish to SEE in our children?
- Remember in the midst of the interaction to ask children about their feelings and reply with empathy. Let them vent a bit. Yes, even if they’ve been rude. Once calm has returned is plenty soon enough to talk about any inappropriate behavior that happened while they were angry.
- Hang onto your compassion. Try to remember how it felt to be a kid, and out of control of so many things in life. Try to guess what’s most frustrating for your child about this moment…”