By Paula Moore
When a multistory building that housed several clothing factories collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, killing more than 1,100 garment workers, the world got a rude awakening: Our cheap clothes come at a high cost to others. This issue is back in the news now that police in Bangladesh have filed formal murder charges against dozens of people for their alleged roles in the tragedy. A hearing is scheduled for June 28.
Most of us would surely agree that no one should be forced to work in a deathtrap just so that those of us in the West can have cheap shirts and sandals. But how can we ensure that the clothes in our closets haven’t caused others to suffer needlessly?
The simplest way is to stop buying leather.
Just as the manufacture of other types of clothing has been outsourced to countries such as Bangladesh and China, where wages are low and unsafe working conditions are common, so has the production of leather goods.
PETA’s affiliate PETA Germany investigated the growing leather trade in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Witnesses visited the poor residential district of Hazaribagh in Dhaka, where 15,000 laborers, some as young as 10, toil in more than 200 tanneries.
Workers stand barefoot in toxic chromium effluent and handle acids and bleaches that can cause chronic skin diseases and even cancer. Even if workers are given cheap rubber boots to wear, they’re often not equipped with face masks or safety goggles to protect against the fumes that can cause severe respiratory problems. A full 90 percent of tannery workers there die before the age of 50.
Studies in India, too, have shown that tannery workers face a high mortality rate, mostly from respiratory diseases resulting from chromium exposure. Chromium, one of the most widely used—and dangerous—chemicals in the tanning process, produces the toxic chemical byproduct hexavalent chromium, or chromium VI, which is a known human carcinogen. Several studies have established links between the chromium used in tanning and cancer of the sinuses and lungs.
These chemicals endanger not only tannery workers but also those who live nearby. Mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, cyanide-based dyes and other dangerous substances are routinely used during tanning, and they are often simply dumped into rivers or on riverbanks.
A study conducted by India’s National Cancer Registry Programme found that people living along the banks of the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Bihar are more prone to developing cancer than people living anywhere else in the country. In Kanpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, alone, there are about 400 tanneries on the banks of the Ganges.
And of course, animals suffer, too. Animals killed for their skins are some of the most abused beings on the planet. Because skin is the most economically important coproduct of the meat industry, buying leather supports factory farms, where animals are warehoused in dark, crowded sheds, and slaughterhouses. Farmed animals’ eyes and lungs burn from the stench of ammonia, and they are castrated and dehorned without the benefit of any painkillers. At the slaughterhouse, as the terrified animals are prodded and kicked along to their death, they can smell, hear and see what is happening to those in front of them in the slaughter line.
The good news is that it’s easy to get the look of leather—if that’s what you want—without contributing to such suffering. A growing number of retailers now offer shoes, jackets, handbags, wallets and other items made from cork, bark, vegan Ultrasuede derived from post-industrial polyester, microfibers made from recycled plastic bottles and other high-quality materials that are less harmful than leather—for both humans and animals.
We vegetarians need our protein boosts! Smoothies, the ultimate power guzzle, can give us that quick fix! Replace milk and yogurt with their soy culinary counterparts, pull out your blender and get blendin’! Soy milk is way better for you than milk, anyways! Flavored, too! And the price is rite at PRICE RITE supermarkets, located right here in Woo! …So cows don’t have to suffer to bring you your calcium!
.. for around a million bucks. You know the piece of land (pictured above) – it sorta juts out into Kelley Square. It’s the piece of no-man’s land on the corner of Water and Green streets. Mostly used for parking these days …
Should be interesting to see how Allen reinvents the property!
Allen works fast!
He’ll probably have workmen (and workwomen, we hope!) at the site by next year, digging and bulldozing away!
I say HOORAY!
Here’s Allen’s chance to shine! Come through for people who aren’t the latte-drinking, beer-guzzling or narcissistic poseurs who seem to have taken over my old (and present) hood! So fake! So phony! Most have a talent for nothing … except blatant self-promotion! It’s manipulative … not real. Just public relations. No one is anyone’s friend in the true, warts-and-all sense. Such garbage!
GET REAL, ALLEN!!!!!!
Get back to our roots!
Build up the neighborhood by creating a building/complex/NEW world to draw in:
Children/youth. They could use a branch library or an after-school center in your new space!
The families in the area, many without cars or a lot of dough. They could use a community health center in your new building. A YMCA branch, perhaps?
A CVS would be terrific! We need a pharmacy in the hood!
We need a bank branch, too!
A supermarket or TRADER JOE’S open SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, with normal working person’s hours and AFFORDABLE stuff and amenable to WIC, SNAP cards and the folks who have them (cuz they are poor) IS DESPERATELY NEEDED here! Has been for YEARS!
If you put in housing, besides the retail, PLEASE make 30% of it affordable!
MAKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD TRULY DIVERSE AND LIVELY, Allen! Make it more than a haven for preppy young or want-to-be-young bar flies.
Create a vibrant day scene, by putting in families and kids and the more mundane stuff that keeps them doing stuff … create a neighborhood that HUMS during the day!!
You’re a good guy who doesn’t want to exclude folks, a guy who doesn’t want to see the neighborhood become a one-trick pony (barsville). That’s BORING! And you pride yourself on reinvention and risk! PERSONAL GROWTH.
Good luck in your new endeavor! and … DO THE RIGHT THINGS!
By Paula Moore
According to a new study by an international team of researchers, your thoughts about marriage equality and racial justice could be linked to your affinity for steaks and sausages. In other words, if the idea of killing another living being for dinner doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, then you’re probably not too bothered by other social injustices, either.
The study, “Rationalizing Meat Consumption. The 4 Ns,” published in the journal Appetite, found that people who justify eating animals by claiming that it is “natural,” “normal,” “necessary” or “nice”—even though it is none of these things—are more tolerant of social inequality in general.
Historically, these same “Ns” have been trotted out to justify everything from slavery to homophobia. For instance, as the study notes, “In defense of male-only voting practices in the U.S. opponents of women’s suffrage often appealed to the necessity of denying women the vote … to the natural superiority of male intelligence, and to the historical normalness of male-only voting as ‘designed by our forefathers.’ … Today, most people find such arguments in support of male-only voting ludicrous at best.”
This confirms what PETA has long maintained: The mindset that condones the oppression of other humans—whether Jews, women, gays or people of color—is the same mindset that permits the exploitation of animals. Prejudices of any stripe arise when we start to believe that “I” am important and “you” are not, that my interests somehow trump those of other living beings.
It’s not surprising that meat-eaters find it necessary to defend their behavior, which is increasingly coming under public scrutiny. In this day and age, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that raising and killing animals for food is destroying the planet, jeopardizing our health and causing tremendous suffering to billions of sentient beings. In today’s meat and dairy industries, animals know little else but pain, fear, injury and disease. Piglets have their tails and testicles cut off without being given painkillers, chickens and turkeys have their throats cut while they’re still conscious and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth.
And the United Nations reports that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary if we want to combat the worst effects of climate change.
It’s simpler to make excuses—”I grew up eating meat; it’s normal,” or “A plate of spare ribs is so nice after a hard day”—than it is to change behavior. It’s easy to shake our heads in disbelief at what others before us have done but not so easy to examine honestly the biases and prejudices that we hold today.
But there’s hope. As more consumers begin to question the status quo and reject the inherent violence of eating animals, the world will become a kinder place for all of us.
A previous study found that vegans and vegetarians have more empathy than meat-eaters do—for both animals and their fellow humans. Researchers in Europe placed volunteers in an MRI machine and showed them a series of random pictures during scanning. The scans revealed that when observing animal or human suffering, the “empathy-related” areas of the brain are more active among vegetarians and vegans. The researchers also found that there are certain brain areas that only vegans and vegetarians seem to activate when witnessing suffering.
Compassion begets compassion. Change can happen when we begin to recognize that all oppression, prejudice and cruelty are wrong—and that all are connected. We can start with dinner.
By Franny McKeever
As a volunteer with the House Rabbit Network, a rabbit rescue organization based in Woburn, Massachusetts, that rescues and adopts out well over a hundred bunnies each year, I have seen the post-easter/spring flood of abandoned bunnies, dumped in various locations after the novelty of a cute bunny wears off and the reality of the care involved sets in.
This flood continues year round.
The luckier ones get rescued and survive.
Domestic bunnies do not belong outside any more than a pet Yorkshire Terrier does. They are not suited or accustomed to extreme temperatures. They are easy prey for a variety of animals. How is a white bunny with black spots going to blend in and hide outdoors? So while some people unthinkingly assume they are giving a bunny it’s freedom others will simply leave the bunny in a box somewhere or worse.
Some bunnies will be left off at shelters to possibly await euthanasia if not adopted soon enough because space is limited.
The problem is that a bunny is treated as a novelty pet, sometimes described as a starter pet.
The truth is a bunny is high-maintenance pet. A house rabbit is a pet that requires research and understanding. This is assuming that the person does know that a rabbit is an indoor pet that does not thrive in an outdoor hutch, cowering in the corner near the garage.
A bunny must have time to roam in a bunny proofed area of a home, as a cat or dog would, surrounded by those who love him.
So this is the destiny that awaits a huge population of bunnies, irresponsibly bred by breeders and sold to the public or pet stores, perpetuating this cycle of unwanted rabbits at Easter time and throughout the year. Pet stores advertise young bunnies for easter, often not quite weaned. Even the most experienced vet would have a hard time identifying the gender of these young bunnies and yet they are sold off sometimes in pairs causing yet more unwanted bunnies. Reckless, but well meaning adults buy these bunnies for their children, who understand even less about interacting and caring for a bunny.
As a prey animal, a rabbit needs to have space to trust that they are safe and should not be bombarded by the high activity of a child. They have fragile bones that can easily break if dropped by a child, who doesn’t know that rabbits don’t really want to be held in the first place, but rather feel safer when their feet are on the ground. Parental supervision is critical with small children.
More knowledge is required in regard to feeding. Rabbits are prone to digestive issues and they can easily develop GI symptoms, which can worsen quickly if not tended to correctly. Therefore dietary understanding is extremely important. Bunnies must have fresh hay at all times and also be correctly fed the right fresh vegetables. Most treats found in pet stores are not actually good for your rabbit.
Pet store owners and breeders may also neglect to tell you that rabbits must be spayed and neutered at 3-5 months of age to prevent certain cancers as well as make them happy and well behaved house pets.
Otherwise litterbox habits will generally go out the window as bunnies start marking your house up with territorial droppings. There can be personality changes as well. This is very often the time when uneducated bunny owners decide to abandon their bunnies.
Adopters know that you save the cost of this very expensive operation when adopting from a shelter and at the same time give a former Easter bunny or unwanted bunny a home.
So before you consider surprising some family member with a rabbit, take into consideration an entirely bigger picture. Be sure you are totally committed to caring for one of these wonderful and entertaining animals for the next 10-12 years. Take the time to research bunny care and decide if this is really the right pet for you.
A bunny should never be an impulse buy. It is a very affectionate, social but also high-maintenance pet that deserves to be treated respectfully and not as a commodity.
We’ve poured our hearts into the elephants-don’t-belong-in-circuses crusade. Progress!
NOW IT’S TIME TO SAVE THE BIG CATS WHO SUFFER in Ringling and other traveling shows. LIONS, TIGERS, PANTHERS, COUGARS … all of these MAGNIFICENT AND MAJESTIC wild cats have captivated humankind’s imagination for millennia. Because they are so big, so beautiful, so exotic. All the more reason to let them BE FREE IN THE WILD, WHERE THEY BELONG. – Rosalie Tirella
1. In circuses, big cats are often forced to live intiny, cramped cages.
2. Their maternal bond is broken.
3. Their basic social and physiological needs are denied.
At the Worcester Animal Rescue League
139 Holden St.
Noon – 2 p.m.
I visted WARL yesterday, took a few photos. If you go to the kitten shower this afternoon, you’ll meet this cutie …
… and, of course, these lovelies. (Sigh …. what people do to animals.) Please give these beauties LOVING forever homes! – Rosalie Tirella