www.boston.com 7th November 2010
The green-living movement has long been in existence in the West but it has yet to make a big impact in China. However, a small group of business professionals are trying to change that by promoting sustainability and organic farming on a small island not two hours drive from Shanghai. Chongming island has attracted a growing number of young successful people who are tired of the poor air quality and food scandals that plague city living in China. The latter problem has been much publicised in recent years and includes stories of ‘melamine-injected milk, counterfeit baby formula, bacteria-infected vegetables, pollution-poisoned fish, and even cooking oil recycled from sewage.’ However, organic farming in China is not easy-going. For example, this summer the government reported that 43% of state-monitored waterways are so polluted that they are ‘unsuitable for human contact’. Even when adequate water supplies are found, the lack of pesticides used in organic faring means much of the cultivated produce is eaten by insects. What vegetables and fruits that survive are irregular in shape (as they grow without the help of genetic modification and fertilisers) and are therefore unattractive in markets. However, the type of farmers are a new breed. The young entrepreneurs usually tend their farms on the weekends and do not rely on their produce to make money. In short, they are doing it for the idea of green living. It is people like these that will change unsustainable practices in one of the biggest consumer nations on earth.
Chongming Island has recently been the site of a large sustainable development (pictured). See here for details.