Monday, January 17, 2011

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

So I've already talked about how to get started, but I'm not going to lie it's a struggle. There's some sort of saying that if it's cheap it's Chinese and there is some truth to it. If you're like me, then you're looking for affordable things and most everything affordable is Chinese. Also most children's stuff is Chinese and interestingly a lot of high end goods (like Plasmas) are Chinese. Let me explain a little of my own encounters. Let's start with what's was on me (well, prior to my pjs tonight) from the bottom to the top.

Shoes- a large number of shoes are made in China. If you want to go to Payless, Walmart, or Target to buy a cheap pair of shoes that you only wear for special occasions and are the latest style, then well, it's most likely Chinese. Zappos has a great website where you can search for a specific country of origin for shoes. Thankfully, my Birkies are still made in Germany. The Ugg boots are made in New Zealand. Although going the green route (recycled shoes) I found are mostly coming from China (as in Simple Shoes). And Nike and other name brands are mostly Chinese, but you need to check the labels because my New Balance are from Indonesia.

With HB's shoes, it's a bit trickier. What parent wants to buy expensive shoes when their kid's going to outgrow them in a few months? I can buy him Birkies but they are 3 to 4 times higher in price than the cheap ones at Target. I did break down and buy him a pair of Bobux which is made in New Zealand. And since I enjoy strolling through thrift stores, I scored an excellent pair of sandals made in Brazil for only 2 dollars.

Socks and Intimate Apparel- In general, because there is such a variety of socks and whatnot to choose from I'm able to check labels. Many companies have their products manufactured in a number of countries so you'll have to check each and every package. For example, I bought a pair of tights made in the USA at Target. The same company sells tights made in China. You have to decide in your rules if your going to boycott the entire company or just a specific product. So too this happened with some knee high socks: Colombia and China.

Skirts, dresses, and pants (oh, my)- I love thrift stores but since most apparel is made in China (high and low end), I find it's easier to just go through my size racks and pull out all the ones not made in China before deciding. It's usually only about a quarter of the stuff. Oddly, HB is sporting a pair of Ralph Laurens with the trade mark US flag on the butt. They are made in Mexico.

My watch- my watch band is from China and the face is made in Japan. I figure I could scope out a fancier watch band from another country if I'm desperate. You could use your cell though (usually made in China or with Chinese parts) or go old school and sport a pocket watch. Antiques are another way to go Chinese free.

Jewelry- Walmart and fake aka costume jewelry is made in China. All high end real stuff can be made closer to home. If your interested, try a reputable dealer. They'll let you know where it comes from. Pawn shops have no idea.

Shirts- see skirts, pants, and dresses

glasses- Made in China frames, lenses from the US unless you go expensive. Sunglasses are the same way although you can find high end ones made in Italy and Oakleys are still made in California.

Hair accessories- If it's got plastic I'm betting it's Chinese. I have a bunch of stuff so this hasn't been a problem for me yet.

Kid's stuff
Toys- I've mentioned that there are a number of USA made toys. You just have to look for them. Anything made with virgin plastic or is electronic comes from China or PRC as I noticed when exchanging original batteries from a gift. You can find USA made batteries and rechargeable ones too.

Back packs and lunch boxes- Vinyl is generally from China. But check labels. Also plastic lunch boxes are from China and so are some of the ones you find at a Big Lots (figure Target and Walmart has had enough advertising here). I'd suggest vintage aluminum. Those are usually from the US.

Art supplies- Roseart is all Chinese. Stick with Crayola. Plastic beads, feathers, pipe cleaners are Chinese.

Baby proofing- The plight of plug covers makes it difficult for me to find ones that aren't Chinese made. I gave up on the latches and used ones that were given to me. I'm seriously thinking of taking them with me when we move. Maybe HB will be old enough to not need it or we'll live somewhere where I can put things up high. The foam corners, thankfully, are made in the US. The company, Kidkusion, also makes baby gates. North States also makes baby gates and yards in the US.

Most food comes from the US or if out of season New Zealand and Mexico. But fish, well, most of it is Chinese. As I said, no self-respecting southerner should buy catfish that comes from across the globe. Check the labels. I found a white fish from the US. It will say stuff like Product of the US.

Adults- Most things are printed in the US. I did buy a book online that was printed in China, but generally speaking most come out of the US.

Children- As I said if it's cheap it's Chinese, board books are typically from China. Paper books are from the US. My suggestion is to check them out, buy used, or try buy books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear which is printed in the US.

Electronics and Appliances
My Dell computer from the Dell, US based company, is red through and through. Some poor guy on the line welded it's lovely parts together without proper protective gear (I'm guessing) and so I feel guilty. The same goes for everything from my blender to my XBox. Although you can find some kitchen gear that isn't red. My digital camera, which I can't live without, well it's made in Japan but comes with a rechargeable battery made in China.

Tricky one. My silver ware is Chinese and cheap. I think, however, that a number of high end place settings are also Chinese.

I think I've covered most everything. The basic idea is that if it's cheap, plastic, electronic, or a textile it's most likely to be Chinese. Try wood, glass, ceramics, paper, etc. Although I will tell you, a lot of the green products are also Chinese, but this is mostly the stainless steal and plant based plastics. My thoughts about this are: if it's "green" why is it coming over seas and polluting our atmosphere? I think Green toys who uses recycled plastics agrees with me. They plan to stay firmly in the US. Also try to find uncommon items, things like a Basil thermometer, that aren't Chinese is unusual (but it's electronic too).

If you are wondering if it's Chinese, I can let you know. Or if you're looking for an alternative (say a baby doll), I'll be happy to point you in a good direction. Just leave me a comment from time to time and I'll see what I can do.

Hope that you enjoyed the series.

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