Friday, July 25, 2008

Made in China

So I had heard some time ago about a woman who went a year without buying anything made in China.
Sara Bongiorni takes pains to say she does not have a protectionist agenda and, despite the occasional worry about the loss of U.S. jobs to overseas factories, she has nothing against China. Her goal was simply to make Americans aware of how deeply tied they are to the international trading system. "I wanted our story to be a friendly, nonjudgmental look at the ways ordinary people are connected to the global economy,"
It was one of those things that stayed in the back of my mind, however, occasionally reared its head as if to say, "I'm bugging you for a reason". I kept fruitlessly trying to push is back because like most things of this made my head hurt.

Wes lost his flip flops a few weeks ago and decided to try and find an affordable replacement made in the USA. We are still looking! Even the super ridiculously expensive ones are imported. Now if it were me I would have patted myself on the back for giving a good effort and said "Oh well, I NEED flip flops. I can't spend an entire summer without!" And off to Target I would go. But, instead Wes just puts on his old ratty sneakers without complaint and keeps going. I fear if he tries to replace the tennis shoes we will run into the same problem.

This morning I found this article from 2007. The journalist focused on the harmful products coming out of China as of late; toys, toothpaste, pet food, produce, to name a few. The end of the article sums up what made sense to me. A former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official said:

...all consumers receive value from the ubiquity of Chinese-made appliances, but when it comes to food products and ingredients, companies need to be more vigilant in tracking their supply chains. “Unfortunately in the case of foods and drugs, there’s a safety issue on top of the quality issue. If the toaster doesn’t work you just take it back to Wal-Mart and they give you another one. But if the food is unsafe, that’s a different matter.”

Ok, so here is my question. Or rather dilemma. How am I going to change the way I think about shopping? Will I start turning over products to see (or for that matter care) how much jet fuel it took to put them in my hand? Will I actually stop by the Farmers' Market instead of passing it on my run? Will I ever be able to buy a cute top, a pair of earrings, or heels from Target or Wal-Mart again? Can I afford to? Can I afford not to?

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