Issue

Global Goods, Local Costs

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurant and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Global Goods, Local Costs is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Global Goods, Local Costs

September 03, 2013

Bangladesh: The Real Cost of Fast Fashion

Jason Motlagh

The Rana Plaza tragedy exposed the hidden cost of Bangladesh’s $20 billion-a-year export garment industry. Jason Motlagh returns to investigate the systemic problems that led to the deadly collapse.

May 23, 2013

The Fight Over Chile's Marine Resources

Aaron Nelsen, Fernando Rodriguez

Chile's coastal waters are among the richest in the world, but years of exploitation have exacted a toll on resources. As Congress debates a solution, fishing outfits scrap for their survival.

May 15, 2013

China's Bloody Frontier in Zambia

Alexis Okeowo

China's investment in Zambia holds promise: billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. But after violent conflict between Zambian miners and their Chinese supervisors, does it also pose a threat?

April 28, 2013

The Cost of Gold: Child Labor in Burkina Faso

Larry C. Price

In just a quarter century, one of the world's poorest countries has transformed itself into Africa's fourth-largest producer of gold. But at what cost to the children who labor in the mines?

April 11, 2013

Congo: Consequences of a Conflict with No End

Fiona Lloyd-Davies, Pete Jones

With suffering in Congo unabated, a series of multimedia projects examines a ‘conflict-free’ tin mine and investigates the mass rape of civilians during the November 2012 rebellion.

Cell Phones in Myanmar

Doug Bock Clark recounts how Myanmar's access to cellphones has changed drastically in the past six years.

The War on Poaching

More than 1,100 rhinos were killed for their horns in Africa in 2016. Quasi-military conservation units are trying to stop the slaughter.

Paper Cuts: About the Project

Reporter John Schmid talks about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's "Paper Cuts" project, an in-depth examination of how China has taken away one of Wisconsin's signature industries.