The things I have learned about China….

On the weekend our foreign student who has been living in our house will be heading back to China after four weeks with us.  During the time she has been with us, she has taught me a lot about China and how different everything is there.  In particular there are a few things which I found really interesting from an environmental perspective
  • Apparently in China they stop putting nappies on their kids when they are 6 months old!   Puts most of us in the UK to shame apart from Lucy over at Lulastic who has a nappy free 3 month old!  
  • There are no free plastic bags in Chinese supermarkets – you have to pay for them.  Fruit and vegetables do not come in packaging.
  • People can save plastic bottles, glass, paper and tins and take them for recycling where they receive a little money in exchange.
  • The pollution in Eastern China where my student is from is really bad.  
Ok so the pollution in Eastern China is really bad doesn’t add much colour and life to the extent of the problem, but my Chinese student has elaborated. From her account (I can’t verify any of this as I have never been to China):
  • The sky is rarely blue – it is grey and smoggy in the cities and in the countryside
  • There are few fish to be had off the coast
  • She has to take a shower at least a couple of times a day as her skin and clothes are filthy from the pollution
  • Her floor gets black from the pollution and she cleans it regularly so it shouldn’t be so filthy.
  • She has to scrub her vegetables in a kind of detergent to get rid of the pollution on them.
  • Some people that go overseas for several months or years who then return to China become sick or even develop cancer from the pollution.  
At some point either her or I described the pollution as lots of black smoke in the air, about how the air isn’t good to breathe in her home town and my five year old has now firmly decided he doesn’t want to go to China ever because he doesn’t want to breathe in the black smoke.  
It has made me think so much about all the things that say ‘made in China’ on them. Recently I showed the student the story of stuff video, which I highly recommend watching if you haven’t already.  We had a long conversation about how she feels China has become the world’s factory and the Chinese people are suffering from the pollution caused by all these factories.  She told me that the people in these factories work long hours, have little in the way of holidays and are on very low pay.  It doesn’t sound like a happy life.

Usually I try to avoid buying new things wherever possible, but the other day I bought a pair of kids wellies from the supermarket, which I realised when I got home had been made in China. I can feel Hattie and Jen  (and I’m sure a few other bloggers too) tutting here and I agree with them. I really don’t know what I was thinking (or not thinking), but I will be thinking twice before I buy something that says made in China on it again!


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