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Are you an environmentally aware consumer?

Democratic discourse! Dear readers, thank you for the shares and the commentators who illuminated reasons for and against climate change risk on last week’s article in The Royal Gazette, headlined “Climate change: Code Red for humanity”.

Bermuda does have a healthy, open society that is able to freely share everyone’s views, with polite discourse, and civil participation.

I am always so appreciative when any of my articles raise awareness of an issue. This is my mission – present ideas, facts, perceptions, concerns, and commentary to the public at large – all related to finance.

You may agree, or not, but taking the time to comment means the topic is current, trending, and may have the propensity to affect individuals and families in numerous ways. When no one chooses to comment or share, then I know that I must do much better to keep you, readers, informed.

Another criticism. Commentators often rightly point out that I have not included other relative facts in an article. You are absolutely right, I don’t always. I can’t! Each article is limited to 1,000 words.

Besides if I wrote a 5,000-10,000-word treatise, would you take the time to read it – honestly? No, I thought not.

We are all too busy, too tired, with too many other priorities today to wade through a boring missive.

Moneywise depends on you, commentators, to point out pertinent missing facts and initiate discussions. It’s a great exercise in community sharing, so please keep those comments coming.

Now, let’s have a look at the commentators’ topics of last week’s article. They are worth exploring.

•China, one of the ten biggest carbon emitter/polluters

•Coral reef deterioration

•Green revolution

•Irresponsible dumping of trash

The general feeling of frustration was that it was all a bit beyond our control and that even a few individuals doing their best won’t make much of a difference.

Fair enough. But, let’s look at these concerns for many from a different perspective.

China has been classed as the world’s biggest polluter and probably close to the world’s largest producer. It’s often stated that governments and countries should “do something” to get them to “do something”. Aren’t we in the western world the biggest consumer of Chinese goods?

Commentator Auntydote has the right idea. Why buy made in China? Because you’ll have to pay more elsewhere, but perhaps you’ll get better quality, or worst case scenario, what you want is not available anywhere else?

The recurring lament today is that the United States, in particular, is virtually out of the manufacturing business.

It’s strictly consumerism now, or is it?

Why can’t we at least try to do something proactive?

Take the consumer environmental awareness challenge below. By the way, readers, I took this test and left answers. I did not want you to think I was a sanctimonious non-actor. My answers at bottom.

1. How many items in your household are made in China? Check everything: appliances, furniture, dinnerware, lights, technology goods, TVs, computers, cars, medicine, personal care, prescription glasses, etc.

Moneywise answer – almost everything.

2. How many pieces of plastic do you throw away each day: bottles, styrofoam, plastic wrap and bags, cups, takeaway containers, caps, beer/soda rings, etc?

Moneywise answer – three bottles, four pieces plastic wrap, two plastic food containers, three plastic bags, and other packaging – not good for one day.

3. Where are your clothes made? How often do you toss the old styles and buy new – certain age groups now are reportedly purchasing incredibly cheap new outfits for every event throwing away the old after one use.

Moneywise answer. Made in China, India, favourite clothes are kept, others recycled, new items three-four times a year, generally previously owned.

4. Who produces your food? Labels that say distributed by, may not be where the actual food source originates. See if you can find out where it is really grown, produced, packed. In 2020, for example, various media reported that some US pork producers are shipping live pigs to China for slaughter and processing, then reimporting them as prepared meat. Who has quality control there?

Moneywise answer. The key statement that hides a lot, including origin, is distributed (not made) in the United States, or other country. I have not always been able to trace where some food actually came from, but have become more dubious.

5. Name one pesticide/fungicide/preservative/antibiotic/hormone that is prevalent in, or on food for sale, such as strawberries, grapes, soybeans, nut trees, etc.

Moneywise answer. Chlorpyrifos, the US Environmental Protection Agency banned this pesticide – used since 1965 – last week, due to causative effect of neurodevelopment disorders and even death in young children.

World’s manufacturer: how much of your stuff is made in China?

6. How often is Roundup, or other weed killers, used on your gardens?

Moneywise answer – no longer used. Weeds abound.

7. Counting bees – not sheep – how many have you seen in a day?

Moneywise answer – very, very few. I saw one bumble bee the other day.

Readers, I urge you to learn more about what you put in your home, on your plate, throw in the trash, and the chemicals employed around your environment.

Our Earth is all we’ve got. We cannot continue to think: “It’s got nothing to do with me.”

It’s time for us to do something.

Looking for lots of comments here. Hoping a few brave persons will tell me how they did on the Consumer Awareness Challenge.

Much more in months to come on ESG and climate risk.

References

Report outlines climate change risk to Bermuda and other overseas territories, The Royal Gazette, https://www.royalgazette.com/environment/news/article/20210816/report-outlines-climate-change-risk-to-bermuda-and-other-overseas-territories/

Beatrice Trum Hunter: Consumer Beware. Your Food and What’s Being Done To It, 1972

Where has your food been? Mary-Linh Tran, 2019,

https://www.kitchenstories.com/en/stories/where-has-your-food-been

The Dirty Dozen: Most Heavily Sprayed Foods, 2021,

https://www.downtoearth.org/environment/organic-vs-conventional-farming/dirty-dozen-most-heavily-sprayed-foods

Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, International financial consultant to the Olderhood Group International, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette. All proceeds from these articles are donated to the Salvation Army, Bermuda. Contact: martha@pondstraddler.com

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Published August 21, 2021 at 4:00 am (Updated August 23, 2021 at 8:02 am)

Are you an environmentally aware consumer?

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