House renovations surged during the pandemic, when work-from-home policies took effect and people were looking for easy, inexpensive ways to upgrade their homes. Enter “luxury vinyl tile,” of which big-box stores like Home Depot sell massive quantities. But, as reported in The Intercept, this in-demand vinyl flooring is created from plastic made by Uyghur workers under extremely dangerous and toxic conditions.

To make the plastic resins that go into the flooring under Americans’ feet, Zhongtai belches greenhouse gases and mercury into the air. Its executives uproot lives, tear families apart, and expose workers to coal dust and vinyl chloride monomer, which has been linked to liver tumors.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.