Sunday, January 16, 2011

Living a "Made in China" Free Life- Part 1

You voted and there's a tie, but since this one was ahead for a while, I will post it first.

A lot of people avoid buying Chinese made products for a number of reasons. You can look to the left side bar to get an idea why. So I'm definitely not the first to go China-free. The problem with going China-free is that nearly everything in this country and in Europe and Canada is made in China. It's similar to those who have given up plastic. You can't give it up entirely, but you can make strives to reduce consumption.

In the book A Year without Made in China, the author discusses her struggles with going without Chinese-made products for a year. She explains that you need ground rules. In her research, one lady has decided to not buy Chinese-made products over holidays. I'm trying to give up Chinese-made products for the rest of my life or until China wakes up, but I still have rules.

The Rules
1) If someone gives me a gift of something made in China, I will accept it. The point is to discuss why I'm giving up something that's made in China and also keep my money away from China as much as possible. I can't force a person to have the same convictions and it would be rude to not accept their gift (and hard if I have kids old enough to understand).

2) If something is an essential item and I can't find a Chinese-free equivalent, then I can buy something made in China although preferably used since the money goes to a local business or charity. This is actually pretty rare because I can always get around this rule. For example, our dvd player bit the dust. I haven't found one that isn't made in China, but our PS2 plays movies. So I guess I'm being economical, green, and Chinese-free all at the same time.

3) If it's free, I can keep it. If someone is basically clearing out their kids old clothes and giving them to me which isn't exactly a gift but close, then I can accept it.

4) Hubby has opted out of being Chinese-free.

5) If it doesn't say where it's made, then I can buy it.

6) We keep using our "made in China" products. If they break, we try to fix them or make do.

7) Renting or borrowing a made in China product is okay. Although this has back fired a little bit. One of the "printed in China" books from the library got damaged and so we were forced to pay for it. So we own a slightly damaged "printed in China" book about leaves.

Now that you have that in mind, let's talk about how to avoid Chinese-made products.

1) Use the Web- there aren't many Chinese-free websites out there, but you can find many Made in USA ones. Still Made in the USA is my favorite.

2) Ask- many manufactures will have sites. Don't assume because the company says it's a US company with a customer service address in the US that the products are made in the US. You may be able to find out where they make their products from their site by digging around on the faqs or history pages. But you may strike out there too. So ask by sending them an e-mail or calling their customer service line. Also don't assume dealers know where the products they are selling are coming from. You may end up purchasing a product that they tell you is made in Japan but open the box to discover it's made in China.

3) Look at the labels- if you're in a store, chances are they will tell you where the product is made. Although manufacturers are not required to tell you that. Some manufacturers will use wording like "Assembled in the US from foreign parts." This basically means that the plastics were molded in China, the fabric was most likely sewn in China, but the finished product, your child's new car seat, was put together in the US. It's up to you and your rules on whether or not you don't want to go with the foreign parts, but I'll warn you Britax and Peg Perego are the only car seat manufacturers that I have found that don't have their car seats assembled in China. And Britax assemble their seats using "foreign parts." I'm not sure about Peg Perego since I haven't looked at a box with the stamp on it.

4) Is there an alternative?- Did you know that all Christmas tree lights are made in China? Did you know that cds and dvds are made in China? Did you know that virtually every electronic device like your computer, your television, your dvd player is made in China? But there is another way...you can download music and movies. You can also stream many tv shows online or use Netflix, which lets you borrow or stream. Renting is also another option which is great for video games (again made in China). You can buy a used computer, tv set, or dvd player or better yet don't own one. My local library has a set of computers and maybe your office will allow you to use their computers on your lunch break. Try making a paper chain garland, using an old set of lights, or stringing popcorn or beads for your tree. Be creative and see what you can do to avoid unwanted Chinese stuff.

It's getting late, but there's oh so much more to say. So I'll leave the part about specific products and ways I've avoided them for another post. Hope this one will keep you sated or at least thinking.

1 comment:

I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!