Join Date: Jul 2006
READY FOR A REAL ECO-CHALLENGE?
Thanx to all the english majors out there;i believe my sentence structure,is affected by all the imported,tainted outdoor products,ive handled over the years(you dont actually think theyre just using those banned coatings/techniques on your kids toys,your toothpaste,your dog food,your (fill in the blank), do you?NOW,WHO'S BEING NAIVE?....).what triggered this alternative train of thought, was the shutdown of Chaco's final US production line,two counties over(and what it means to be a "American" outdoor company);the closing of the last major consumer electronics repair facility in our county(outdoor e-waste anyone?);and the total disconnect,it seems,of the outdoor folks,who show up at events/campfires,looking like a outdoor version,of a NASCAR driver,proudly wearing/displaying all the "branded" outdoor gear,and smugly implying,that having/supporting those brands are the "only" true key to "OUTDOOR enlightenment and eco-friendliness".
Heres what i bring to the debate:my rigid laws of life,that tie us all together,on this globe;from the fly covered refugee baby in darfur to the wealthiest person on earth.its my THREE FIVES AND A FOURTH:
----YOU CAN LIVE W/O AIR FOR 5 MINUTES,5 DAYS W/O WATER,5 WEEKS W/O FOOD---and #4---WE ALL NEED SHELTER FROM THE ELEMENTS.Nowhere does it say that we need "strait to landfill" goods,to survive .All activities that affect those 4 points negatively,deserve a close look.Plus this little bit of advice,given to me by a sandal-wearing,long hair drifter: "...that which you do onto the least of my brethen,you do onto me...".Now,combine that with my 33 yrs in the manufacture/retail sales/servicing(thus recycling,long before it became chic),of outdoor hard goods,outdoor electronics,and consumer electronics.im bombarded with all the trade journals/posters/giveaway gimmicks,etc.(i know i'd rather have those trees still standing),so i try to keep up with the latest mergers/buyouts/CEO golden parachutes/shutdowns.i attended the trade shows,and have a good grasp of how many outdoor products are coming from the same faceless factory,and how just a change of color scheme/packaging/logo,affects the price.ive watched as the tax cuts from jan 1981,til today,havent resulted in anything but an constant acceleration of domestic production/wages/benefits going away.its my belief that once a company has been nutured,stateside,and grows to the point that they can pull up stakes,run their HQ/banking out of the Bahamas/Dubai,source their service calls in Bombay,and put their factories in whatever country,is the lowest cost bidder,for them,possibly changing locations from year to year----then there isnt much left to them to call "american",and surely,they dont need handouts from the US taxpayers,anymore.the savings they get by moving there,and becoming international players,should be reward enough.as a businessman,i totally understand the reality of the bottom line---why pay someone $10 a hour when you can get a warm body for $1 a day or less.But i dont believe its just the wage issue,that must be factored in;its also the elimination of enviromental/labor safety/length of work week/ethical business practices,etc.,plus the artificial manipulation of the value of their currency,so their product is always the cheapest.
Besides those issues,add in the fact that a majority of the outdoor products,are built not to be serviced,will have no parts available,and their designed lifecycle from factory floor to landfill,is getting shorter and shorter.the official attitude on repairs/service is "just have them buy a new one and pitch the old one",for the lack of a 50 cent o-ring,a plastic fitting,or a specialized metric screw.is that all we're good for?to become the "golden triangle's"(think china to pakistan to indonesia) landfill?
Ever sit around the campfire,and look at your children,wanting them to be educated and have a fun childhood;look around at the adults and wish them good working conditions,at their jobs?Glad to have family time together?Ever wonder if that applies to the folks who build the products,in the golden triangle,that you use(or is that just their "destiny",because of an endless supply of bodies available?)?Do you think their children really want to work in a factory,instead of being in school,or playing?Ever wonder if they can afford the products they build(even Henry Ford realized it was in his best interest to pay his workers,so they could)?Ever wonder if they have decent work shift hours,good meals and time off to spend time with their families?Or do you believe,that a pissed off poor,undereducated workforce,wont hold a grudge against America,for what they had to sacrifice,to crank out those "american" logo'd products,just so you can bask in the "low prices everyday" mentality?Dont think our troops will summoned if "american" business interests are threatened?What does that cost?
Add all these factors in,plus the propping up of brutal regimes,the trashing of the countries air/land/water,where theyre based in,the oil used to transport it here,and to me it becomes "the high cost of the low price".
Want to silence cynics like me forever,at least on the labor treatment issues?Easy;a $40(retail and even built in the golden triangle(GT from now on)---they cant lose!!) webcam,installed on every production floor,linked to each outdoor companies website,so anyone can pop in 24/7,and see that no child is working,during what should be school time;no one is being asked to work long hours 7 days a week;that the drone of the machinery isnt deafening;lighting is good;that production machinery is basically guarded,so no one can easily get maimed,etc.Remember, most of these outfits are less than 10-20 years old,and should be pretty state of the art,right?Think the companies would be worried about industrial espionage,from us?Actually the trend runs in the other direction, always,and theft of ideas occurs at the engineering level,and not by the time it hits the assembly stage.When have you ever heard this:"Those thieving Americans stole our idea,and are now making cheap knock-offs in ohio..."---NEVER!!Even if we got an idea from the factory floor,wheres our means of production?Oh thats right,its over there....You see as a true gear head,im fascinated in how things are made,and in the days when products were made and serviced stateside,we'd actually tour the factory,and work on the line,so we could repair the product better/quicker,and answer all the customers questions about it,leading to even greater company goodwill and customer support.
Am i too hard on just the outdoor industry,when the reality is that over 95% of all products that fill all our retail stores,in every category,comes from the golden triangle?No,they just hold themselves out as so "green",and holders of the key to a quality experience in the American outdoors,while ignoring the long chain of problems they create,while telling us to "leave no trace"....
Would it kill you,the "consumer",(i'd rather be known as a "contributor",actually;in who's name all these deeds are done,because like a spoiled child,your screaming for more trinkets at lower prices,right?),to think twice,thrice,four times before you buy another "soon to landfill" unserviceable product.Instead of just staying on the endless treadmill,of buy/throwaway/buy/throwaway(believe me,the distribution centers and the ocean containers,are filled and we wont run out), consider having that coat zipper repaired by your local seamtress,instead of pitching it;resoleing a pair of hiking boots at your local cobbler;having your bike maintained at your local bike shop,instead of throwing it away because the tires are worn out;taking the money you would have spent on the latest soon-to- be-e-waste-gimmick,and having a good local meal for a boy scout troop/volunteers,who cleans up a trashed hiway,or park,etc.,keeping that stuff out of the landfill.Yes,it may cost more than what Walmart is selling a new one for,but you will contribute more to the American economy/tax base,immediately,than all the last 27 years of pissed away tax cuts combined,and by treating local folks,after a cleanup campaign,you will do more to improve the quality of our landscape,than all these hollow "leave no trace" campaigns,from the GT.Just like deciding to get into your "Moab Outdoor Special Edition" 4x4 gas guzzler,to go 4 blocks,to get your cup of coffee,has consequences that has us stuck to the tar baby of our unstable "stable" oil suppliers,and all the associated economic/military/enviromental costs,that go along with that; so will our support of these companies "ungreen" practices will come and bite us in the ass,in the long run.
You see the only people im worried about are the American middle class,who are the most generous,hard working,caring people,in the world,who are continuously called upon to help the world,in every crisis,with very little given back in return.Anyone else remember how silent the Chinese were when the tsunamis hit Indonesia;they could have been there within hours,with all their might and manufactured products.Instead,it fell upon us Americans,to borrow money from them,to fuel our ships/aircraft,borrow money from them to fill those ships with their goods,to help the victims,travel from a far distance,then borrow money from them to get our rescuers home.Is there any other nation who steps up to the plate like us?All we ask is jobs that allow us to pay the burden off again and again,and again......
I dont need my outdoor experiences in America,to be strained thru these purveyors of "bread and circuses",who by wrapping themselves in the flag,or the current chic "green" campaign,fail miserably on both ,using any means test.I'll leave on these last 2 thoughts:If all men think alike,then there is no thinking going on/If you stand for nothing ,you'll fall for anything......