FASHION 101: What Not to Wear
By Marisa, age 19, Indiana
Lovely outfit you have on today. Now take a second and check your tags. Where was your clothing made? I would venture to say that the majority of readers are currently wearing some piece marked "Made in China," or the recent near equivalent, "Made in PRC." What's wrong with this? Outsourcing to China (or The People's Republic of China, hence PRC) not only leads to a lack of jobs in the United States, but it also allows for numerous other complications less obvious at first glance.
If you are from the USA, chances are you've heard of the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency. In short, it's an agency founded in 1970 with the intention of protecting the environment of our country by setting certain regulatory standards. It helps make the air we breathe and the water we drink a little bit safer. However, in China today, environmental protection laws are not practiced to the extent necessary to maintain a healthy environment. The high demand for inexpensive labor and affordable and accessible natural resources causes China to make money a priority over general healthiness and safety of its citizens or those who buy its products. Remember this past holiday season - the uncountable number of children's toys found to be contaminated with lead? Recall that all of these items were made in China. The Chinese government's lack of regulations over production of such goods allowed for this potentially fatal error.
American demand for Chinese resources has caused China to begin destroying the country's natural beauty. Need for ore and other natural resources has caused an excessive amount of mining, deforestation, and general damage to the landscape. The Chinese government has made claims that they will not stop destroying their land as long as American companies keep up this demand. While American companies and consumers falsely benefit from the short-term success of lower prices, the damage done to the earth can take years to counter. You may think, well, better there than here, but the truth is that what happens in China will have an effect on the rest of the world. It may take longer to note, but we are one globalized world. Air pollution from factories has degenerative effects on tea leaves commonly found in American supermarkets. Carbon levels continue to climb as China fails to regulate environmental laws.
In America there are restrictions for employment based on age and minimum wage laws. In China, children spend hours every day in a factory making a plethora of Wal-Mart sweatshirts for less than the profit Wal-Mart will receive from the sale of just one of those sweatshirts. We are living in a global economy. (Thank you, Mr. Clinton. Signing NAFTA was a wonderful idea.) Why isn't there a global minimum wage?
What you should do? I implore all of you to look for domestic goods whenever possible. The more consumers demand fair wages and environmental stability, the more corporations will respond. It's supply and demand. When you find a company regularly producing American-made goods, I suggest you write to them and encourage them to continue doing so. More and more companies and stores are beginning to respond to the growing demand for domestic goods. Kohl's is carrying more affordable USA made clothing and the slightly more expensive brand, Juicy Couture makes a lot of clothing in the USA. Watch your labels. Sometimes items are a bit pricier, but would you rather support a company that pays its employees $6.00 an hour or $0.60 an hour? Also, share these thoughts with your friends and family. The more people are aware of these flaws, the more companies will be forced to respond.