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The Environmental Impact of the Hobby

Jan 26, 2008

    1. Again, apologies is this subject has already been discussed. But I'm really wondering where everybody else is with this.

      Global warming and environmental impact is one of the Big Fears these days (at least it is here, anyway). We're being urged to make changes - turn off lights, don't have baths, walk if you can, etc etc. And putting the debate about the reality of global warming aside, how do we feel about shipping things from so far away for hobby purposes? Asia, America, Europe, Australia. All these places are very far apart and I assume we're all aware of the impact of air travel. I know I'm finding it really hard. I waste hours of my time looking on the marketplace for people selling in the UK.

      This all being said, I've ordered things from Japan many times before for friends and never thought twice about it. I think it's the regularity of doing it and the impact that racks up that bothers me.

      So, have you ever thought about this?

      Are you ok with it?

      Why are you ok/not ok with it?
    2. My personal feelings about the global warming debate aside (they're beyond the scope of a doll board), the reality is that the world now has a global economy of which hobbyists are a relatively tiny part. Countries are not going to stop engaging in international commerce on a much larger scope than just us buying doll stuff. Planes are not going to stop flying people around the world. This is how we live today. If we stopped air shipping and air travel we'd essentially be turning the clock back a number of decades, and many countries would revert to their former state of being much more economically poor because they couldn't import and export and do international business with ease.
    3. QFT. I'd worry more about the transport costs of my food, clothes and electronics long before I started worrying about the transport costs of my doll stuff. (Food especially, as buying local produce helps local farmers, while my chances of obtaining locally-made electronics and clothing are pretty slim.)
    4. I understand what you're saying, however isn't it somewhat contradictory to say we should be turning off lights and taking our TVs off standby, but not ordering things from halfway around the world? I understand there is already a massive impact in industry, but that in itself is bad (reality of GW aside) and I know environmentalists are getting on their backs about it. Surely this does not abscond us from responsibility, as we're always told, our individual input is important - if "we all did our bit..." etc, etc.
    5. It's also worth keeping in mind that a lot of mail... including both EMS and Airmail parcels... fly as cargo aboard passenger flights. Those flights would happen rather or not your box was aboard, so using the extra space in the hold is a lot more efficient and less damaging than setting up an entirely seperate air courier flight just for the mail.

      What gives me a bit of pause isn't the environmental impact of shipping... It's the effect of the manufacturing process on the people who make our dolls. Resin is tough stuff to work with, and it's not a "safe" material. As demand grows and more and more manufacturing moves to China, where the record on worker safety isn't as good as it should be sometimes, I worry about workshop conditions and rather or not more people are going to be exposed to higher levels of toxins and particulate.
    6. I understand what you're saying, and it does kind of suck. I know "every little bit counts," and getting stuff locally could, in the long run, be of help to the growing impact humans have had on the planet, even if just a little bit. But the fact of the matter is... most of this stuff can't be obtained locally. It's just not as simple as flicking off a light switch, and I'm not going to deny myself the happiness my hobbies bring any more than I'm going to flounder around in the dark in the name of saving the Earth.

      Though, somewhat OT, but it would be kind of cool if there was something we, as a growing community, could do to help out. Like... pick a day for us all to plant a tree or something. .^^
    7. Hmmm...there's no doubt that energy used in transport should be figured in to the impact of consumer goods whether it be food/clothes/etc. However, as other people pointed out, it's impossible to completely go back to the way things were before the economy became so global. It's really up to people to make informed choices about what they buy. However, to say no one should by over seas is unreasonable. I think the awnser is to buy locally when possible (sometimes this is possible, but sometimes it isn't--it's amazing how much stuff gets shipped from here to there) to cut down on excessive energy used in transport, but to also realize that there are some goods only available in other places and our economy is very intertwined with those of other countries.

      If you really are so concenerned that you can't buy bjds with a clean conscience, then maybe this isn't the right hobby for you. There really is only two anwers when it comes to abjds--either buy them with the understanding that they have to travel from far away, or don't buy them at all.

      No matter what, though, goods will be shipped to and from different countries. Maybe the better solution is cleaner fuel for cleaner transport rather than ceasing transport altogether.
    8. Agreed.

      I actually try to live sustainably, and BJDs are probably one of the larger parts of my "carbon footprint." However, I try to recycle as much as I can when it comes to the kids. Here are some things I do:

      *recycle shipping supplies (I have a corner of my attic devoted to old boxes, so when I need to mail something I don't need to buy anything new.)
      *make dolls' clothing out of scraps (I sew a lot for myself, my boyfriend, and our home. I use the leftovers to make things for the dolls so that I don't have to buy them clothes. You can also buy fabric remnants at fabric stores for reduced prices.)
      * recycle art supplies (this isn't something that anyone could do, but my boyfriend is an art student. when he has tiny nubs of chalk pastel or minuscule amounts of acrylic paints left I'll take them and save them for doll or other hobby work. It's too little to be worth anything to him, but it's just the right amount for my little projects.)
    9. I'm ok with it. Let's face it, if bjds didn't exist there wouldn't be any less plains in the air. If someone told me that the process of manufacturing of bjds caused a big environmental impact then I would be really worried.

      I do what I can. I recycle the things I can't use anymore and keep others I can use later for other things. So other than the shipping itself all the products that are envolved in the process get taken care of.
    10. Even if every single person stopped buying BJDs from overseas, there would still be the same number of cargo aircraft in the air. We simply do not account for enough volume of goods to make any impact at all.

      Whereas, I've seen exactly what turning off lights when possible and conserving electricity can do to lessen my electric bill - and, presumably, my impact on the energy crisis.

      My (not terribly humble) opinion on pollution and transportation is that we find alternate fuel sources. International shipping is not going to lessen or go away. I believe it's more important to put money and research towards clean, sustainable energy, since our fossil fuels are going to run out sooner rather than later.

      Short version: I don't think the doll hobby has much of an impact (if any) on global warming due to shipping.
    11. This is a really big one for me. I also feel a fair amount of guilt for buying so many things from overseas, but I'm not likely to stop. I think I should make more of an effort to buy locally-grown food (which here in California is a lot easier than elsewhere). But, I try very hard not to throw anything away that I get from shipping (which means I always have a ton of boxes and packing materials around. I can't possibly re-use it all so I at least try to recycle what I can't re-use.

      I was a little horrified when my 1 trip to Japan negated an entire year's no-AC, minimal driving, energy-conserving lifestyle. I find it hard to believe they're calculating it correctly, as I tend to think they take the entire fuel cost and split it among the passengers instead of giving a big chunk of it to the plane itself (which would be going anyway, regardless of if there are 100 or 500 people on board and weighs more than all of them combined). I tend to feel the same way about packages. If you measure the carbon footprint of a package as if the flight is being made just for them it's huge! But the reality is that most packages are just a tagalong for a flight that's going anyway, and they add but a very tiny portion of the pollution (much less than, say, keeping your car tires inflated).

      So, not to dismiss it entirely, but I don't think we should make ourselves miserable over it. :sweat
    12. I already recycle paper and plastic, buy used dolls frequently, use public transportation on a regular basis rather than drive/use gas/pollute the air, and am trying to pay more attention to whether the food and household products I buy and eat are properly produced. I have turned off the lights and the TV and so forth since the last US energy crisis in the 70s. I spent three years working on an engineering program for electric/hybrid cars way before they were trendy. So no, I don't lay awake nights over whether a doll I buy is taking up a little space on a plane that was going to fly whether my doll was on it or not.

      I agree about the seeking of cleaner energy sources and methods of transportation. I would also say that my biggest concern is worker safety and working conditions, not only for the dolls but for things like their clothing that might lend itself to being made in sweatshops.

      In the end, unless a person wants to live out in the country, grow and mak everything they eat and use, walk everywhere, etc. one is going to have to choose one's battles and pick some things to do while not worrying too much about other things. One can't address every issue and continue to live in regular society. As with the person who was worried about money wasted on dolls that could be given to the poor, if someone is going to feel that bothered about environmental impact of their dolls, they probably should leave the hobby and find something they are more comfortable with doing.
    13. I think im in two minds about this On the one hand i believe its important to care about issues like global warming and that people should do their best to recycle etc, which i do.

      On the other hand i think people sometimes worry too much, some things we as individuals will just not be able to change and the amount of air traffic is one of them
      As the other posters have said i think its more important to concentrate on the things we can change :)
    14. I agree with you, Alex-chan and bunnydots both. It's important to recognize what you can change and try to do something about it, but at the end of the day, there's no way anyone can fix everything about the way we live. Some things are too prevelant in our culture and way of living. I don't buy clothing from companies that are notorious for sweatshop labor, but I also realize that inadvertantly some of my clothing probably do come from sweatshops. I try and not waste electricity, buy a lot of organic food, and drive a pretty fuel efficient car. However, there's no way to cut out all of my fuel consumption and some of the products that I buy are not all going to be as environmentally friendly as would be ideal.

      I really don't agree with the idea that "well, I can't fix everything, so I'm not going to do anything." (I haven't seen that yet in this thread) However, constantly feeling guilty because there are things you just can't change isn't good either--it can lead to a lot of frustration and burn out--at least that's been my experience. It really comes to trying to make informed choices, choosing your battles, and just doing what you can--even if they seem like small things. Small things can add up.

      I'll keep buying Asian dolls, and I don't feel guilty about it. They're something I need in my life right now, and in the grand scheme of things, there are much much worse things out there that need attention.
    15. It might be a way to ease my conscience, but I'm with those people who say that the air flights these items piggyback on would most likely happen regardless of your purchasing habits. This is a small hobby in the grand scheme of things.

      It's important to do your own little bit as you see fit to help the state of the world. Doing something positive is much better than resting on your laurels because you think it 'won't make a difference anyway'. But in the grand scale, a lot of the onus is on companies and governments. They are the ones who can ultimately instigate the real change needed.

      On a side not, before I saw the full title of this thread I thought it was about the environmental impact of resin :XD:... (My jewelery teacher is not a fan of resin, mostly for its toxicity)
    16. I think that if each doll was shipped via its own private jet, then it would be more of an issue. As it stands, I'll join the chorus and say that the resin kids really don't make much of a difference in terms of feul expenditure/airline-related pollution. I do wonder what companies do with dolls and individual parts that don't turn out, though. The sheer amount of junked dollie pieces might make a fairly large contribution to the local landfill; given the resin's toxicity, that's pretty worrying. =/
    17. The thing here is that when you order something from halfway around the world, the doll isn't sent over in its own private jet. Most of the time, cargo gets sent with passenger airlines. They're sent on planes that will be taking off whether or not there are cargo to transport since they have people to transport. That said, the planes are taking off whether or not they have 10 people to transport or 100 to transport, since they have to fly once the flights are scheduled.

      Do what you can for the environment, but know your limitations as well. When it comes to airlines, a lot of things are out of your hands. What is more logical is to support airlines that emphasize on clean energy or environmentally friendly fuel. At this point, you could probably contribute more by cutting down on land transportation, by going for public transportation instead of by your own car.
    18. I dont worry to much about it since on the issue of global warming( even if we all walked to worked and huge companies stopped being greedy and polluting we cannot reverse the damage that has already been caused.) I have a different hope (religious not on topic for this board) so that is why I dont worry about ordering from overseas since I know all that bad stuff that has been done to the enviroment will be made better .
      So order away!
    19. I know my collection is smaller than most, but even so... my BJDs and all of their stuff are still less massive than, say, a TV that is imported from another country, or a CPU or most other electronics. Heck, probably even less than all the food I eat over a 2 or 3 day period (though much of that food is domestic). Or all of the clothing I own that's been imported, since very few brands seem to sell clothing that's made in Australia aside from some of the more boutique designer brands and stuff like made to measure wedding/formal dresses. It may be more possible in a country like the US, but someplace like Australia? It's really not a very large country, population wise, and shipping something from the east coast to the west coast is probably about as energy intensive as shipping from many Asian countries. In fact, sending something by road train (truck) over the continent is probably more energy wasteful than shipping something by sea from Asia.

      But really, if you're concerned about the environmental cost of airmailing your dolls, look at your life and think of all the other stuff you use that has probably been imported, or just shipped to your area. Even a TV that's made in the USA and bought in the USA may have traveled quite a lot by train or truck. A lot of food is imported and so are electronics and clothing and things you don't even think about. Unless you live in a farming area with a lot of industrial factories as well, it's pretty hard to live a modern lifestyle without using a lot of energy. Dolls are just a drop in the bucket, and really things like turning your lights off DO make more of a difference- because everyone has a lightbulb in their house. Only a teeny percentage of people have a BJD.
    20. Resin and the finish coat chemicals for faceups are hydrocarbons themselves.
      It competes with other uses for oil. Making things that can be recycled over and over, safely, is a much better use for that base source than burning it or making things that get tossed out after we're done eating from them. I agree it's a better use for it that we want our dolls to be around for years to come!
      I would guess that making the sprays and the resin probably has a much bigger impact on hydrocarbon footprint than the transport of that much weight.
      I'd be interested to know if the junk castings can be reused for other things, recycled, without being toxic.