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Three days later China scores a point. I just realized on September 24th I bought Petstages Mightie Mouse toys for my cats when I was picking up their food.  Their food by the way is made in Pacoima, California not China so that is good. I didn’t even think about checking when I grabbed it.

I am lucky up till now that this is the first time this has happened as I keep remembering after the fact. Then when I check I have been relieved each time. I need to train my brain. I said it!  This time I did not even realize it till a few minutes ago when I was picking up their toys and thought man this stuff is totally made in China…whoops. :]

Listen, I’m on it.

-Cara

Starting tomorrow I am going to see how many days I can go without buying any products “Made in China”.  I have been reading all this stuff recently having to do with factories’ labor conditions in China, so I am motivated to do something.

You know I always rant to all my friends or anyone in earshot that they should not support Apple anything with all these Foxconn (a Taiwanese electronics firm that produces the iPhone) suicides (10 workers killed themselves at a factory in Shenzhen, China. An eleventh worker recently died at another factory in northern China. In total, there have been 13 suicides and suicide attempts at Foxconn factories this year). That the suicides have to be linked to working conditions and look I was right. I never have liked iPhones… Macs…iPads…iPods… it’s all junk…marketing for susceptible masses willing to overpay for the product they are purchasing. With cutting all these corners in production costs well you know, Steve Jobs is a billionaire…enough said.

I was also reading about the  KYE Factory in China that manufactures Microsoft products. In particular, some interesting discoveries on The National Labor Committee’s web site on how they treat their workers

Workers pay out of their pocket for meals using a meal card.  Workers who purchase a meal card for 30 days pay 208 RMB, $30.43, and for 31 days, 216 RMB, or $31.60.  Though the food costs seem small enough, it lowers the workers’ take home wage in 2010 from 65 cents an hour, to just 52 cents.

Workers who purchase the monthly food plan are rewarded with two free “treats” each month, usually a piece of fruit or a chicken leg.

Cafeteria management prohibits workers from throwing food out.

[source]

For the approximately 300 people on each floor, there are two public restrooms on either end of the floor, each with ten bathroom stalls; ten sinks with cold water; five cold water spigots where workers can wash their clothes by hand; and three hot water spigots where workers fetch hot water in a small plastic bucket to take a sponge bath.  Workers wanting to charge their cell phones have to go to the “electrical charging room” on the first floor of building “F” during the regulated hours.

Dorm lights are automatically shut off at 11 p.m.

In the giant KYE Systems Corp. compound, housing KYE, XYE, JYE, CYE factories, there are six dormitories-two for management and four for workers.

Single workers are not permitted to live in housing outside the factory compound.  Even married couples can only opt out of the dorms after six months, and even then they must provide their marriage certificate and their landlord’s ID card and fill out an application. [Source]

Workers are prohibited from talking, listening to music or using the bathroom during working hours.  Workers who do not follow the instructions of the foreman will be fined 40 RMB ($7.02), which amounts to the loss of 11 hours’ pay.  Workers are strictly prohibited from staying outside the factory compound overnight.  Workers who do not return to the factory are fined 200 RMB ($29.26) -more than a worker’s regular weekly pay, and immediately fired.  I mean there is tons of stuff. If you want to read the whole article click here.

Crazy thing, this is one of the better factories to work at in China if that give you an idea of the bigger issue. I don’t want to support that. Plus they make so much stuff that is unnecessary for the world and harms people and their environment.  I could go on…you know I could, but I won’t.

What I will do is personally take responsibility for me and not consume products made in China. I will make educated purchases and hold myself accountable.

I wonder if this is really going to suck or be much easier than I think it’s going to be. I hope the latter. :D I should shut up as it will be easier than working in the factories in China.

That’s right I said it.

-Cara

te

 

Well planted, not uprooted.

Well embraced, never lost.

Descendants will continue

The ancestral rituals.

 

Maintain oneself:

TE becomes real.

Maintain the family:

TE becomes abundant.

Maintain the community:

TE becomes extensive.

Maintain the country:

TE becomes prolific.

Maintain the world:

TE becomes omnipresent.

 

Therefore,

Through self contemplate self,

Through family contemplate family,

Through community contemplate community,

Through country contemplate country,

Through world contemplate world.

 

How do I know the world?

 

I tz’u

Like this!

 

-Lao-Tzu

Executions are known to have been carried out in the following countries in 2007:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea (North), Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, USA, Viet Nam, Yemen.

Amnesty International remains concerned that executions may have taken place in Mongolia and Malaysia. However, due to the secretive nature of the use of the death penalty the organization was unable to obtain reliable information.

An appeal for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty

I am not a killer.

-Cara

Since we learned so much about what makes bamboo eco or not in yesterday’s entry I decided to list three “Certified by Cara” super ecological bamboo products.

T-Shirt

OK, finding eco bamboo clothes I have decided is like the search for the Holy Grail. I mean no one is mechanically pounding bamboo into yarn, thread, or t-shirts for that matter. If they are their marketing/PR team is lacking the skills necessary to promote said bamboo products. Everyone who makes bamboo clothes is close, but no cigar. The best company I found so far is, Bamboo Body.

They state, “The bamboo in our fabric is grown in the Yunnan Province in China without the use of any chemicals or pesticides. The plantation is managed in strict accordance with the international organic OCIA/NOP standard.

Bamboo yarn is produced by pulverizing the bamboo stalks and then regenerating the fiber. This process does not use harmful chemicals. Our fabric is dyed using azo-free dyestuffs. Our factory operates in conformity with ISO9001:2000 quality standard and is committed to the environment by reducing emissions and recycling waste. The factory pays all workers appropriately and does not employ staff under the age of 18.

While bamboo is grown organically, without the use of pesticides or chemicals, bamboo fabric is not certified organic. The process of converting bamboo to yarn does not meet the strict criteria for organic certification.

Our bamboo fabric is certified by oeko-tex 100 standard which confirms that it is environmentally sound and does not include any harmful chemicals.”

Everyone else either states that oeko-tex 100 is not all it is cracked up to be or “that it is impossible to be 100% ecological, but as technology advances they hope to be”….technology…for all the companies waiting for the future to arrive, here is the past, what I like to call the anti-technological way, also known as the “mechanical way”. The mechanical way is done by crushing the woody parts of the bamboo plant and then use natural enzymes to break the bamboo walls into a mushy mass so that the natural fibers can be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn. This is essentially the same eco-friendly manufacturing process used to produce linen fabric from flax or hemp. Bamboo fabric made from this process is sometimes called bamboo linen. Very little bamboo linen is manufactured for clothing because it is more labor intensive and costly.” What that means is it messes with these “green” companies bottom line.

Chop It Up

The next company that makes the “Certified by Cara” seal is Totally Bamboo. I really like the twist chopstick set they sell. According to Totally Bamboo they had a chemist develop a high grade, non-toxic formaldehyde free food grade glue which they use exclusively on their cutting boards. Also. they do not use artificial dyes or stains. Their factory is ISO 9000 compliant which is a rating system covering non-polluting environmental issues and employee welfare, safety and minimum age. There are 2 colors, light and dark. The light is the natural color of bamboo. The dark is “cooked” to perfection, literally, a result of the heating process. The natural sugar in the wood is caramelized, producing the beautiful honey color. This is permanent and will not wash off. This allows the boards to be sanded if needed. They have other cool stuff on their site as well, like bamboo director chairs, for those eco Hollywood directors…lol.

Solid Horizontal-Grain Bamboo Flooring, Amber

Next to finding truly eco fabrics, eco flooring was the runner up as far as hard to locate. One company that receives the “Certified by Cara” seal, is Eco Timber.

This is what they have to say about how they are super awesome bamboo flooring rock stars, “EcoTimber bamboo flooring is made from bamboo plantations — not from wild habitats. Bamboo is a highly renewable resource, harvestable only four to six years after being planted. Its low moisture absorption properties make it ideal for humid climates and applications where moisture might pose a challenge for other types of flooring.

EcoTimber Bamboo flooring is made with a Low-VOC adhesive that easily meets the strict European E1 standard for indoor air quality.

There are currently dozens of bamboo flooring manufacturers, some of which have flooded the market with poorly-made products. Click here to see what sets them apart from others. ”

The business of greenwashing is becoming an art form these days as the big players are joining the “green” game. I expect it from them, but am sad to see some small business jumping on the greenwashing train to nowhere.

I thought this blog entry was going to be easy, but I was wrong.

Keep it real.

-Cara


Reason 98 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:

Every year, 24,000 fishers die on the job, making fishing the most dangerous occupation in the world, according to the FAO/UN. Meatpacking has the highest serious injury rate by far of any occupation. Repetitive stress disorders and knife cuts are rampant in meat plants. Poultry processing workers earn wages that are, for a family of four, below the poverty level. Full-time contract poultry growers clear incomes of only $21,000 annually.

I usually try to stay away from animal cruelty newsletters or web sites as they really upset me and as a vegetarian I feel like I don’t need to be exposed to these horrors. I don’t eat or wear animals because of said suffering, so I don’t want to read or see things that are so sad. That said a few months ago I signed up for PETA’s newsletter for the second time to remind myself that I should do more, even if I don’t want to see it, it does motivate me.

In the latest newsletter I got today, PETA talks about leather. I being a lover of super fresh shoes, always had leather and suede shoes, until a few years ago where I read about the horrors of leather and decided to give up buying any leather products. Recently, I started to see a few shoes made from animals that I thought were cute and I couldn’t quite remember why I gave up leather…

Then along came PETA, with their Shopping Guide To Compassionate Clothing and Cows Are Cool, with their page on, What’s Wrong With Leather. This information reminded me why I gave up leather and suede. I’d like to share some information from Cows Are Cool with you.

Leather may be made from cows, pigs, goats, and sheep; exotic animals like alligators, ostriches, and kangaroos; and even dogs and cats, who are slaughtered for their meat and skins in China, which exports their skins around the world. Since leather is normally not labeled, you never really know where (or whom) it came from.

Most leather comes from developing countries like India and China, where animal welfare laws are either non-existent or not enforced. Many of the millions of cows and other animals who are killed for their skin endure the horrors of factory farming—extreme crowding and deprivation as well as castration, branding, tail-docking, and dehorning, all without any painkillers. In India, a PETA investigation found that cows have their tails broken and chili peppers and tobacco rubbed into their eyes in order to force them to get up and walk after they collapse from exhaustion on the way to the slaughterhouse. At slaughterhouses, animals routinely have their throats slit and are skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious after improper stunning.

Most of the millions of animals slaughtered for their skin endure the horrors of factory farming before being shipped to slaughter, where many are skinned alive. Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and slaughterhouses since skin is the most economically important byproduct of the meat-packing industry. Leather is also no friend of the environment since it shares all the environmental destruction of the meat industry, in addition to the toxins used in tanning.

With every pair of leather shoes that you buy, you sentence an animal to a lifetime of suffering. Instead, you can choose from hundreds of styles of nonleather shoes, clothing, belts, bags, and wallets. Fashion should be fun, not fatal! Read more about the cruelty of the leather industry.

…so nevertheless I have cured myself of my desire for leather, thanks to PETA and Cows Are Cool and my conscious.

Also, PETA has given shopping alternatives to leather, wool, silk, fur, down on their site. Here are the links and one link for companies who offer cruelty-free products to be listed in PETA’s guide:

Vegan Companies
Leather and Fur Alternatives
Search by Product Type
Animal-Friendly Companies Wanted

Remember all animals feel pain and nothing is done to alleviate these animals suffering in their processing and slaughtering. I don’t want to ever be a part of that.

Knowledge is enlightenment.

-Cara
—————————————————

Reason 69 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:
In 2005, a $7.1 billion plan to prepare the U.S. for a bird-flu pandemic was instituted by the Bush administration. It included very little to help poor countries slow the spread of the H5N1 strain already on the march. Pharmaceutical companies would get most of the largesse in order to stockpile and develop speedier methods to develop appropriate vaccines for American citizens. In addition, President Bush proposed that he be given the power to impose essentially martial law on the land in the event that a pandemic actually came about. The number of countries with bird flu increased from 14 to 55 in 2006.

No, this is not becoming an arts and entertainment blog, but I watched a documentary tonight called, Dangerous Living: Coming Out In The Developing World, and now I feel like talking about it.

It is a crazy world we live in where people feel like it is OK to torture, rape, belittle, and murder each other in the name of God, Country and what is “morally” right. Dangerous Living: Coming Out In The Developing World follows the lives of gays, lesbians and transgender people living in the Global South, during this time. The film centers around the 52 men in Cairo who were arrested, tortured and imprisoned for gathering at a discothèque on the river Nile on May 11th, 2001. There is no law against homosexuality in Egypt so the Egyptian Government officially accused the men of committing crimes of debauchery. The 52 were later tried, convicted, and sentenced to 3 years in prison. Sentenced to three years in prison for being on a boat dancing with other men, can you imagine…Chelsea would be empty! No, but seriously…what? This is absurd. I am glad I found this flick, because it reminds me of all the work we still must do to undo all the ignorance that is alive and well all over the world and not just in my beautiful America. This film is not only about the 52 men in Egypt, but about homosexuals in Honduras, the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda, Brazil, Pakistan, Vietnam, Namibia, India, Fiji Islands, Iran, El Salvador, China, Malaysia, and Jamaica to name a few, that are being treated inhumanely by their fellow countrymen and being encourage to do so by their own government.

We as people need to stop hurting each other, because of our ignorance and insecurities. We need to open are eyes and hearts and then minds to create a better place to exist. It is important not only for others, but are own wellbeing. First step, watch the movie. I got it from Netflix today and will return it tomorrow so you can watch it. ;) Second, visit The the International Lesbian and Gay Association, they are a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people everywhere and do something!!!

Take back the night!

-Cara

p.s.- I almost forgot in all my outrage that another reason to watch it is Janeane Garofalo is the narrator of the film! That’s a sweet deal.


—————————————————

Reason 61 from, 101 Reasons Why I Am Vegetarian:
From the animal-feed breadbasket and feedlots of the nation’s Midwest, massive amounts of fertilizer, pesticides, and manure-runoff travel down the Mississippi River. This high-nutrient mix causes an eco-chain reaction that ends with microscopic organisms robbing oxygen from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Marine life must relocate or suffocate. The phenomenon is known as hypoxia. Scientists have dubbed affected areas “dead zones.” Each summer the Gulf’s dead zone grows to an area the size of New Jersey. A recent U.N. report showed a 34 percent jump over 2 years in the number of dead zones–now 200 worldwide. Today, red tides (harmful algae blooms) line some coastlines of entire nations nearly without break. Soon, the hot real-estate properties around the world will be away from the waterfronts.

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