What really ignited the long simmering discomfort of buying so much stuff from China was a story I came across in the paper a few weeks ago about farmers in China intentionally starving captive tigers to make wine from their crushed bones (you can read the story here). I started to really think about all the stuff I buy that comes from China. Then I started to think about all the scary news stories I've heard over the years about the toxic chemicals and metals found in everything from apple juice to kids' toys, all manufactured in China, all being shipping overseas and sold to millions of people who assumed their government's regulations were keeping them safe. I watched my son, who loves putting everything in his mouth now, chewing on a plastic toy cell phone given to him by a friend of the family. Made In China was printed in big type on the back of the box it came in, in plain sight, as if taunting the consumer- daring us to care enough not to buy it.
I decided to take a look around the house to get an idea of how much of our stuff was made in China.
Some things actually surprised me. My plastic Vileda broom was made in Canada. I thought for sure that would be Chinese-made. A lot of things didn't have "Made In ___" labels on them anywhere. That bothered me. Some things had labels that said "Manufactured in Canada from domestic and imported materials". That bothered me even more. For someone who wants to know where the stuff they're buying is coming from, it can be a heck of a job and sometimes practically impossible to figure it out. If you tried to do that with every single thing you bought...well, I'm going to find out just how hard it is.
So, from January 11th to February 11th, here's my plan.
PROJECT MADE IN
1. I will not knowingly buy anything that has been made in China, in whole or in part.
2. If I can't find out where something was made, I won't buy it.
3. I will make every effort to substitute local products for all Chinese-made ones.
4. I will learn which countries are positive alternatives to buy foreign products from (i.e. countries that support women's rights, pay fair wages, don't use child labour, are environmentally responsible, etc.)
5. I will inform any merchant or company when I don't buy something from them because they have no alternative to something made in China.
I'm expecting grocery shopping to be the hardest, and most painful to my wallet. I shop a lot at Walmart, simply because there is no discount grocery store in our town. There are two very expensive high-end grocery stores, but the closest reasonably-priced store is half an hour away. Walmart is convenient and affordable, but a lot (I'd bet most) of their stuff is imported from China.
I should offer a disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that China is the only country with bad environmental practices and terrible health and safety regulations pumping out cheap plastic commodities for the world. But it is the front runner by a long shot.
I'll keep a running journal here on how this goes. Hopefully it will be a great learning experience for me, and make my home a little healthier, and my local economy a little stronger.
Anybody want to join in on the challenge? :)