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Fancy yourself a socially and environmentally conscious consumer? Brian Baker, who visits factories around the globe to make sure they're not running sweatshops or spewing toxic waste into the air and water, certainly hopes so. He's leading a talk titled "Night With a Futurist" at the Da Vinci Institute tonight, where his team will take apart such popular gifts as a Kindle, a point-and-shoot camera and an Internet router to explain where the pieces come from and what that means for you.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about 'Made in America,' 'Made in China,' 'Made in Malaysia,'" says Baker, a principal at Boulder's Small Planet West. The good news is that tech factories around the world tend to be cleaner and more modern and offer better working conditions than other types of factories in the same countries. The bad news is that he's found sweatshops even in the United States, especially in the textile industry.

Baker is a pragmatist when it comes to buying green. "It feels wrong to buy something from Malaysia when 10 percent of the people are out of work, but we all want to shop at Target," he says. "We're not going to be able to make clock radios in the United States." If that $10 clock radio made in China was assembled in the U.S. instead, it would cost at least $40, he points out. He'll also discuss other hallmarks of responsible gift-giving, including minimalist packaging. The lecture, which runs from 6:30 to 9 p.m., will be at 511 East South Boulder Road in Louisville; admission is $20. For more information, call 303-666-4133 or go to
Mon., Dec. 5, 6:30-9 p.m., 2011


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