Monday, June 09, 2008

Green China

Green China

Why are environmental activists not cheering for China?

Recently (June 1, 2008), China banned (yes, banned) plastic bags thinner than 0.025 millimeters (0.001 inches). In addition, regular plastic bags are not longer allowed to be given away with purchases by retailers, including 7-11’s (convenience stores), grocery stores, and supermarkets. On average, plastic bags costs between 0.20 and 0.30 yuan (3 - 4 cents).

Reference to the story can be found here.

Of course, one of the negative consequences of this is that supermarket and convenience stores employees now feel like they don’t have to put your purchases in plastic bags at all (if you bring them from home). It seems lazy people will always find a way to skirt their responsibilities.

The green party, or environmental activities in the West, should be celebrating China as a paradigm.

But there is more: in China, almost everyone (I estimate 99.9%) air dries their clothing. I have never seen a dryer in China, and any walk through an apartment complex will immediately reveal colorful apartment balconies decorating with clothes of 1.3 billion people. How much energy is saved by this phenomena? Is there an “anti-dryer” movement in the West? Shouldn’t there be?

One more characteristic of green China: transportation. It is almost ironic that the environmental movement arose in the West, no less in the United States. Americans love their cars, and waste gallons of gas (and now money) based on the love. Public transportation in China is the rule rather than the exception. Of course, buses and subways are crowded. The alternative is bicycles. I am aware that bicycles take up more space in transporting people than buses, making them impractical users of space (especially in crowded cities), but compared to automobiles, there is no comparison. China bikers and bus-riders are truly the motor of green China.

I am not an environmentalist. But an objective analysis of existing states of affairs in the China and the U.S. makes clear that China is “going green” with much more fervent and commitment than the U.S. I only hope the “gas price crisis” will wake people up to the need for more public transportation.

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