Category Archives: Globalization

How Fashion Contributes to Water Pollution & Environmental Degradation

Consumers Obsession with Fashion and its Rising Toll on Water Pollution around the Globe

When you buy your favorite jeans, you probably have no clue that massive amounts of water are being wasted and polluted in the production process of those jeans and all other clothing products. In fact, clothing manufacturing is such a polluting process that this was one of the major reasons why over the last three decades many large companies have moved their factories off shore to countries in Asia and Latin America, where they didn’t have to deal with tough environmental laws and government regulations. Importantly, they also no longer had to face public scrutiny and criticism about contamination of the nation’s rivers and lakes, and its negative consequences for the US citizens who lived near by. Conveniently, this issue has been permanently moved out of sight, and therefore out of minds of millions of happy American shoppers. The truth is that now bodies of water are being polluted all over the globe, and we are responsible for a large portion of this damage. Blindly, we continue to the run on the consumer treadmill that the greed of the western clothing manufacturers has put us on, and keeps us on it a the ever increasing the speed, and at the expense of our environment.

Lets press the stop button and look at the hard facts:

Cotton and water pollution

Our love for all things cotton accounts for 8.5 billion pounds of cotton fiber produced in the US each year. That not being enough to satisfy our needs and wants, we import 25 percent of the world’s cotton crop, in the form of lint, thread, fabric or finished products. To obtain the cuddly look and feel of cotton, the cotton fiber has to undergo extensive processing even before it is spun into thread, all of which requires excessive use of water. Procedures such as treating the fiber with caustic sodium hydroxide to remove waxes, bleaching it to allow dying to the desired color, as well as anti-wrinkle treatments with such carcinogenic compounds as formaldehyde, all require large quantities of water. For example, bleaching the cloth for just ONE shirt generates as much as 15 gallons of polluted waste water!

Harmful Effects of textile dyes on water

Dying textiles causes the most water pollution, and is most difficult to hide. Currently, the world textile industry uses 10,000 dyes and pigments to achieve all the spectacular shades of clothing that we enjoy wearing. On the flip side, people in countries like China, India, Mexico, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc who live next to the dying plants, which are invariably located near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and ponds, report that drinking water that flows from their taps can be green one day, and red the next day. Dye effluents can contain such hazardous metals as copper, cobalt, chromium, nickel, zinc, lead, antimony, silver, cadmium or mercury, all of which can pass untouched through the water cleaning facilities.

Clusters of dying plants in these countries can dump around 7 million litters of effluent per day into their own land. Having seeped into the ground, the dye pollutants and salts render local groundwater unsuitable for farming irrigation. Moreover, drinking water in these regions has to be brought into surrounding villages from outside areas that are unaffected by the dye plants. In 2004, tests conducted in Sanganer, North India revealed that textile and dying plants have released so much polluted effluent, that water from the major stream flowing through the city is actually capable of causing genetic mutations. I doubt you would want to drink that water or have your children drink it, would you?

What are the alternatives?

It is obvious that being aware of these facts will not immediately put a stop to our voracious consumption, or halt the big clothing corporations from engaging in environmental and human rights abuses. However, as consumers we can start making more environmentally conscious shopping choices. One way to to do this is to buy Eco-friendly clothing from local designers, artists and small companies that follow green production practices. Also, there are various designers that produce handmade clothing, all together avoiding the negative impact on the environment that big production causes.

Some people may object that clothes made by local designers and sold online, or in boutiques are a lot more expensive than what you can buy at the Gap, and many people simply cannot afford it. While it is true that designers and artists who make the clothes with their own hands charge more, you need to ask yourself difficult question: do you really need those 10 new shirts that you just got on sale at the Gap, in addition to the 30 that are already in your closet? Instead, consider paying more for better quality clothes that do not contribute to environmental pollution, buying less, and wearing what you buy for more than one season. It may actually also save you money in the long run. The bottom line is that if you love to shop, buying something local and handmade allows you to own something unique, while supporting American small businesses, and taking a strong stance against polluting our Earth.

Living in the Global World Staying Ahead of the Curve

The dangers, setbacks, frustrations, and opportunities of living in the global world.

This is a final term paper response written by Aleksandr Biyevetskiy for the Business Government and Society class taught by Dr. Frank. F at Rhode Island College. This paper focus on the effect of Globalization forces and how they change our world. On the macro level, I examine the roles of governments for successful integration in the global world. On the micro level, I examine the roles of individuals, companies, and institutions, and the specific steps that people and organizations can take to be successful stay ahead of the curve in the ever changing global world.

I would like to get some feedback on this, so be sure to tell me what you think!

The change is upon us!

Like it or hate it, we’re living in a world that is becoming increasingly global and integrated in terms of information accessibility, global trade opportunities, and the global scope of potential and often unforeseen unintended consequences of making poor decisions in the global world.

The global world we’re living in, makes it almost necessary for companies and individuals to embrace the paradigm shift brought on by the emergence of new technologies and innovations.

Globalization and Global Forces of change

Those companies and individuals who manage to keep up and understand the potential benefits that can be derived from the emergence of new technologies and innovations, will be successful and prevail in the increasingly globalized world. On the flip side, those who neglect the new ways of thinking and choose to stick to the old guns, the traditional “old” and “proven methods” of thinking and operating in the increasingly global world, vs. acknowledging and exploring the potential benefits of new technologies and innovations, will become less effective and probably fall behind and lose their former prevailing positions in the world.

Embracing the paradigm shift is important not only for commercial companies, and individuals, but it is also becoming ever so important for the institutions and the governments.

Let’s examine some of the recently successful nations of the global world and those who were better off in the past, but have already fallen behind in a big way.

The Asian Tigers countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong epitomize the successful adoption of global strategies and paradigm shift in the approach to management-labor relations that helped Asian Tigers to better their position in the world.

In the early 1960s, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong adopted and successfully integrated the management-labor culture of harmony, which originated and became highly successful in Japan. This new approach involving a paradigm shift in management-labor relations, helped the Asian Tigers attain rapid industrialization and economic growth of their economies.

Their global world and export orientated approach combined with judicial and effective management of their global trade policies, resulted in high rates of economic growth and development of highly educated and skilled work force.

An extreme and radical example of North Korea shows what can happen to the countries that choose to remain isolationist in their economic and social policies.

North Korea is not the only country embodying national extremism as a countermeasure against globalization and shifting cultural and social values. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of countries that are left behind now because they failed to embrace the forces of globalization as well as shifting social and cultural norms and values.

Cuba, which was under communist rule, and Zimbabwe, which was doing well economically until the redistribution of wealth took place are among many other sad and shocking examples of the governments missing the boat in every sense of the word.

Going back to the example of North Korea, it is interesting to note that North Korea has been engaged in perpetual military attacks on its southern neighbor-South Korea. The motive for the perpetual attacks on South Korea is believed to be the cry for attention and coerssion for economic and humanitarian aid for North Korea. It’s highly pervasive and twisted that North Korea uses military attacks as a leverage to induce South Korea into rendering economic aid to the North Korea.

From the global economic, geopolitical, cultural and social perspectives, North Korea is a perpetual isolationist loser in denial who keeps missing the boat to become an integral part of the global world, and instead uses its military might to terrorize the world around it.

Fortunately, China, which has been following the successful example of the Asian Tigers, has embraced a totally different approach from North Korea, and is actively becoming a part of the global world.

It is ironic, but not surprising that China is still supporting North Korea in geopolitical and economic sense. And, while China, a communist regime, maintains ideologies that threaten the Western world, it has proven to be a savvy industrialist and global trade-dominating nation.

Indeed, China’s average 9% economic growth rates since 1978 are impressive by any standards! And it is equally impressive that China has reduced its number of people living in extreme poverty from 500 millions to just over 100 millions in just a few decades.

As a side note, it is also scary that China holds some 25% of the U.S. national debt, and there is no clear way in sight, as to how the U.S. will pay back its national debt.

Yes, there is no doubt that ideology-wise China is at odds with the rest of the Western world, but there is some hope for its eventual integration. There’s also a hope that China will drop its support for North Korea, which could lead to a great change in the balance of power between North and South Korea.

The lesson of this analysis is that despite all the global forces and the emergence of new technologies, good politics and integration of successful policies by the governments’ plays a far more important role than perhaps any technology, no matter how powerful, ever will.

This is also true of the situation surrounding Iran, which poses a major threat to the world as we know it. How the United States, China, Russia, Israel and the European Union will handle the situation, we’ll have the major impact on the world’s future.

Yes, with the US being engaged in fighting global war on terrorism and subsequent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as the instability surrounding North and South Korea and Iran, the world is has become an increasingly global, fragile and unpredictable place.

While it is hard to predict where the world is headed, it is clear that taking individual responsibility has become ever so important for individuals, companies, and especially governments to ensure a successful integration and coexistence of cultures, social norms and values dominated by the new technologies, and the very survival of the world as we know.

Now that we have examined the macro perspective and the global roles of governments and nations in securing a prosperous and healthy environments for its people and other nations, it is time to examine how individuals, companies, and the institutions can benefit from the emergence of new technologies and forces of globalization. After all, the above-mentioned entities are the basic building blocks of the nations they represent.

Historically speaking, from the individual perspective, people who learn the new skills and embrace new and useful ideas and technologies are better equipped to face the changes that are part of human existence, especially in the rapidly changing Western world.

When the computers came out, people who wore too used to the typewriters and too dismissive of computers fell behind and became obsolete for the work force. Those who embraced the change and earned the computer skills became in demand for employers seeking people who posses modern skills.

This example illustrates why it is ever so important to keep up with the technological innovations and the ever changing business world around us. Old skills and conventional manufacturing needs have become largely irrelevant in the U.S. as they’ve become largely outsourced overseas. We may not like it, and we may even hate it, but it does not change the reality that will live in a global world which means that production factors are likely to move to where it is cheaper to produce.

Making oneself competitive, marketable and desirable to a potential employer is becoming a part of new reality. Modern employers demand high-end technological knowledge and skills.

As an example, consider the corporate rivalry between Facebook and Google for recruiting and retaining the top talents in the information technology and computer science fields.

Their rivalry tells us that there is a high demand for well trained computer science and information technology professionals. This is the reality, and it’s not going away!

The truth is that a high school diploma will no longer suffice for a person who wants to live a reasonably good life. Attaining specialized training and high quality skills is now a prerequisite for getting a decent job. That truth is that the times have changed, and high school education is no longer sufficient for people to be successful.

The reason for that is that the high school no longer provides the skills that are sufficient to satisfy the modern technologically oriented and financially savvy employers. The employers have to be technologically and financially savvy to survive in the face of global competition. To do that, they need to hire quality people who possess top financial, technological, and entrepreneurial skills.

Such is the situation in the United States of today. What it means is that educational institutions such as high schools, junior and four year colleges have to change their curriculum and approach to education. They need to catch up with the times and start teaching the skills that are relevant to modern employers who demand the best talent, knowledge and ability.

While the demands of the employers keep going up, the level of preparedness of modern high school graduates is just inadequate. People come out of high school with poor English speaking and writing skills, poor math skills and poor understanding of the world around them. The educational system is failing its students by failing to prepare them for the rigors and high demands of the ever changing world.

The colleges and universities, in turn, have to work with poorly educated incoming freshmen. Further many colleges and universities need to catch up with the times and start teaching the highly competitive and relevant skills, and fostering competitive abilities of their students.

Real changes need to happen. High schools and colleges need to emphasize the important new and emerging technologies. They need to teach the students about the benefits of exploiting the opportunities given by the Internet and information technology. This goes beyond the basic knowledge of using Myspace and Facebook.

Students need to understand and appreciate the power of new technology and see it as a great set of tools at their disposal. Students need to have a better financial understanding and improved market factors knowledge if we are to prevent the future housing bubbles and other bubbles that result from lack of education and poor governance.

The long and short of it is that it is a good time for students and people in general to understand and accept that the good old days are over, and that the age of increased competitiveness and globalization has arrived. People need to catch up with the trend, or they will fall in behind and find themselves unhappy. On the flip side, people who embrace the change will be the ones who will benefit the most from the emergence of new technologies and the onset of new reality of the global economy and the global world.

As an example of technology and information skills paying big benefits, consider the fact that Massachusetts institute of technology graduates’ start-up companies generate enough revenue to to be considered the world’s 17th largest economy.

Keep in mind, that it is just one educational institution that has produced so many talented graduates who started so many successful companies. It means that people who graduated from MIT learned the skills necessary to go into the real world and start successful companies.

Perhaps, more colleges and universities should consider revamping their curriculum in order to start teaching relevant and competitive financial, technological, and entrepreneurial skills.

Not everybody is born or can learn to become a sensation of social media success like Mark Zuckerberg. Not everybody has that sort of vision and luck to become a symbol of change in the world. Yet, many people can still benefit from the changes given their desire, commitment and drive to learn new and useful skills and be in sync with the technological, social and business changes that take place all around us. Staying on top of the changes and really understanding them for what they are, as well as what they potentially can become as well as their meaning to the world, can ultimately lead to some small and positive incremental changes in the ever changing world. Will you be the one to make the change?