06/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Case For (Truly) Accurate Labels

Does "Made in China" (or anywhere else for that matter) tell you the whole story? Why not require production labels on products sold here?

Food labels tell us about what we eat, but what about the ingredients in other products? One thing they all require is electricity. In China, they build 2 coal-fired power plants every week to satisfy demand. Coal is dirty for the people who live near the plant, and contributes to global warming.

Furthermore, countries with extra cheap labor often don't have the civil rights we enjoy. Regardless of your opinion on unions, it's hard to argue they don't have a right to exist, or that you could be executed for saying so.

One reason "Made in China" equals "dirt cheap" is because of the dirty conditions where those products are made.

If product labels informed you that your purchase was made possible by dirty power, toxic materials, or human rights violations, you might spend more on products made with clean energy, non-toxic materials and respect for peoples' dignity.

Producers would compete by improving their practices. In the meantime, it would support economies trying to get some return on environmental regulations, workers' rights, and clean energy.

When consumers can choose between clean energy with democracy, or dirty energy with oppression, bad guys will be LESS profitable.

Divesting from South Africa helped change that nation, but we can't vote with our dollars unless we label the products for sale in our country with real information about how they got here.

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