To kick off the New Year at the Story of a Red Shirt, I am featuring another great guest blog from Rebecca. I hope she is not trying to take my job!
Elyse Chen, one of CSR Asia’s Beijing staffers, recently shared some of her thoughts on food safety in the CSR Asia weekly newsletter. She comments, “The basic responsibility of the food industry is to produce good quality and safe food. To fulfill this responsibility doesn’t require high technology, nor does it rely on advanced equipment. The key point is whether the owners and managers of the food companies have business ethics.”
Elyse goes onto to provide an excerpt written by a popular blogger that describes one day’s happy life of a Chinese person (and yes, the sarcasm is intentional).
In the morning, I woke up with a quilt made of shoddy cotton, brushed my teeth with carcinogenic toothpaste, drank up a cup of milk with melamine and excessive amount of iodine. Then I ate a fried bread stick fried in diesel oil and washing powder and a salty egg with Sudan Red G (a yellowish red lysochrome azo dye) inside, and I hurried to the office. At noon, I ordered a plate of finless eel fed with contraceptive pills and cooked with waste oil, a plate of cabbage sprayed with Dichlorovos, and two bowls of poisonous rice. In the evening I cooked cured meat made of pork from dead pigs fed with Clenbuterol; Spiropent, dressed it with soy bean which contained some hair. I also prepared cold jellyfish, which is soaked in formalin, grabbed a steamed bun containing bleaching powder and Sodium formaldehyde sulfoxylate, drank up two glasses of wine with great amount of methyl alcohol. Oh, what a happy life it is.” (As sourced from CSR Asia’s 6 January 2010 newsletter)
What if we were to each write a version of our day? One that took place in our own city and country that focused on not just what we ate, but also what we wore, inhaled, and absorbed? What might it look like if we had some super power glasses that could see all that was invisible to the naked eye? Those super power glasses would reveal a scary alphabet soup of chemicals, toxic materials, and unexpected foreign substances that we are coming into contact with everyday.
Globalization and international supply chains mean that the melamine that ends up in one’s milk in China is also ending up in milk in New Zealand or New York. And it’s not just China that we have to worry about. Manufacturers everywhere in the world are allowed to have micro amounts of toxic materials in their products and their waste streams (solid, water, or airborne).
In my humble opinion, businesses that use and release toxic materials shouldn’t be the norm. It will take some creativity and perhaps some new technology, but it is possible to make a change. Ray Anderson shares what Interface has done and continues to do as it climbs Mt. Sustainability in his latest book.
And for the record, Atayne doesn’t accept the status quo. As we continue to learn more, we are seeking alternate ways of doing things. For more insight into our journey, check out the Naked Truth Part I and II.
What do you think about Rebecca’s thought-provoking post? Here is my thought. Capital One asked everyone, “What’s in your wallet?” But they probably should have asked, “What’s in your milk, t-shirt, shampoo, toothpaste…”