Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Could I Live Without China?

Last week, Mark showed me an article he was reading about drywall that had been manufactured in China during the height of the housing boom here in the US a few years ago. Seems that they were manufacturing drywall so fast because demand was so high, that they weren't paying a whole lot of attention to the process (big surprise) and now the drywall which is in people's homes, is leeching all kinds of toxic crap and making people sick. Well, gee, China, thanks a lot. Not bad enough to hear about toxic dog food, excessive lead in children's toys, and whatever crap was in the baby formula. It got me thinking....first of all, I can't even begin to imagine the factories over there. Considering practically everything we buy is made in China, they must have factories from one end of the horizon to the other. And with however many billion people to work there, and how fast their production's surprising that more stuff isn't faulty, although, technically, it is. Every month I read magazines that tell about recalls on all kinds of stuff...lamps, toys, grills, you name it. It started me wondering...could I live without China-made goods? A quick inspection of everything around me, including the little toys I'd put in my kids' Easter baskets, the plastic eggs and even the basket itself was made in China. Half or probably well over more than half the stuff in my kitchen....well, I could've done a full-house inventory, but we all know what the outcome would've been. Wow.

So I said to Mark - what do you think? Could we do this? Could we put a moratorium on Chinese-manufactured goods coming into this house? Would we, COULD we survive? He was skeptical, and of course, so was I. But think about it. If enough American families did this, it would not only force China to reconsider their shoddy manufacturing, but maybe, just maybe it would expand other markets, like hmmmm, AMERICAN made products? Okay, that's a stretch.

Our first major purchase since then - shelving from IKEA. I'd had my eye on this shelving for about a year now. We did the research, we measured, we packed up the boys and found ourselves in the IKEA store. Never gave nary a thought to where this stuff was from. Just bought and loaded and transported home. Imagine my surprise (and DELIGHT) when we discovered that this particular shelving system was absolutely NOT manufactured in China, rather, it was from Canada, and it was made from sustainable wood products! Oh Happy Day! Gotta love IKEA! And then, yesterday. Here in Cumberland we have this great blanket outlet - Biederlack blankets and they have 50,000 in stock. And I had never been there! So with both little guys in tow, I checked it out yesterday, and bought a great American-made blanket/bedspread thing for our guest room for summer. I will definitely be doing more shopping there in the future - great blankets, even greater prices and local!

But then, a backslide. I've been doing great with the clothesline outside - loving going out, getting a breath of fresh air, hanging up the clothes, NOT using the dryer....but I needed a thing to hold my clothespins (Jonathan was working out for a while, but he tends to run off with my clothespins!) So at the grocery the other day, I found a little canvas pouch-thing on a hanger that was designed to do JUST what I wanted, so I threw it in the cart, no hesitation. Then, I picked it up again and turned it over. China. DOH! And I put it back in the cart. I NEEDED it! What am I supposed to do, go home, search the internet, pay three times as much plus shipping, wait two know the drill. Well, that's just great. That's like a vegetarian eating a cheeseburger and saying "But I was hungry."

So I made sort of a deal with myself for the future. I'm going to make an honest effort to find things not made in China. If I'm pressed for time and have no choice, well, what can I say. And I'm thinking something else might just come out of this. Maybe, just maybe, it will cut down on some impulse purchases. Did you ever think - hey, I want "xyz" so you ran out to buy it the very next day? But sometimes, you think - hey, I want "xyz" and you wait until say, the weekend to get it, and by the weekend, you discover you could live without it? Happens to me sometimes, so maybe if I told myself, I'll buy "xyz" if I can find one not made in China, I may just realize I don't need it after all, and save myself from bringing more stuff into the house.

So why not join me in my China-manufactured goods semi-boycott?

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