Greed and Selfishness As The Main Reason for the Polluted Problems

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Let’s start with the factories that manufacture cotton in Kazakhstan. These manufacturers are, of course, very aware of the effect that their production has on the environment and wildlife but chooses to ignore the issue. In her documentary Stacey Dooley investigates: Are clothes wrecking our planet?, the programme focuses on the production of cotton and how it is dramatically impacting the land and environment around Kazakhstan. In 1960, Kazakhstan had one of the largest inland seas in the world, which many animals and sea life inhabited. But sadly it has been reducing in size and today the 68,000km square seabed is now only full of dust. 

Stacey Dooley says “I feel like we understand what plastic does to the earth, but I had no idea what cotton was capable of”. The production of cotton requires a large amount of water to be used in the manufacturing process which has resulted in the seabed being reduced to dust. These high end producers are, without doubt, aware of the consequences that their manufacturing process has on the environment, but rather than finding a better and safer way of production, they choose to continue with their way of manufacture and leave other people to clean up their mess. Why? 

Money. As a result of their selfishness, they do not care for the wildlife that once lived there; they do not care for the seabed that was once filled with astonishing sea life and they, certainly, do not care about how the environmental destruction all came around. Indonesia is also a massive producer of clothes sold worldwide. Stacey Dooley revels in her documentary that thousands of people are drinking water contaminated with chemical waste from these clothing factories. Along the Citarum River, there are just under 500 factories, and nearly all of them are dumping toxic chemicals into the river that locals use for bathing, drinking and everyday use. 

The water has been tested by Dr Sunardi, an environmental toxicologist, and he has identified high levels of toxic chemicals that have been released into the river by these clothing factories. Stacey Dooley went along the river and said “It fills me with dread. It’s hard to think that the clothes I’m wearing could do so much damage, but I now see how the industry is such a threat to the planet.” The BBC attempted to talk to a few of the spokesmen from these clothing factories but none of them wanted to comment. This suggests that they are all very aware of the effect that their manufacturing has on the locals but are choosing to not do anything about it. 

Once again the factory owners still choose to not invest in the better ways of production even though they can clearly see the impact their production has on the locals. This is due to their selfish actions and greed for money. This is also the case in China - one of the biggest countries that produce the majority of phones, clothes and shoes bought by the US and Europe. The manufacturing process requires the burning of fossil fuels to power and generate their factories therefore releasing gases and chemicals into the air. The result is devastating. In China 4,000 people die every day due to the air pollution. These hazardous air pollutants, mercury, lead, dioxins and benzene are a few of the main pollutions released into the air every day, and they can all affect your health dramatically. 

As a result people have to choose whether to endure the polluted air, which would have severe consequences on their health or whether to wear protective masks whenever outdoors. Do you think people should ever have to make those sorts of decisions? Cynthia Cummis, a greenhouse gas expert, explains “We need to understand the full life cycle of all the goods and services that we are purchasing and selling.” Many manufacturers choose to ignore the issue and go on to multiply their factories, rather than thinking about the impact it has across the world. Has supply and demand gone crazy? If Western cultures reduced demand or were prepared to pay a proper price for their clothes then manufacturers could put environmental safeguards in place.

However some people might argue that these factories provide good employment for the people living in the developing countries. But this is not the case. These jobs that are ‘supposedly’ helping people are manipulating them to work overtime in untenable conditions. Workers are expected to work up to 12 or 16 hours a day, standing, in the heat, without a break. In Thailand workers must work the overtime hours and if they can’t then they could be sacked from their job. 

Many of the workers that work in these factories are exposed to toxins, extreme temperatures, air and nose pollution, which can all severely affect their health. Many rules are in place for women workers, they can’t be married, they can’t be in a relationship and they can’t have children. This is all to make sure that they aren’t involved in any sort of social life which therefore means that they are able to work more overtime. For all this the workers get paid pennies. Then the cycle starts again, more employees mean more production and the more production means more profits. It’s just all about the need for money. 

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