Truthfully, there’s a lot of things that I’d like to change in the world. A long time ago, however, I learned that big changes start small. Changing the world starts with one person and the only person that I can really change for sure is me.
For a while now I’ve been following the blogger at Not China Made (who I really admire, by the way, since she is really changing things through her blog). The blog does a great job of examining the dangers of buying products from China: dangers which not only include lower quality standards (which lead to things like lead in toys and contamination in dog food), but also the danger of supporting human rights violations.
Before reading Not China Made, I can honestly say that I didn’t know much about the working conditions in China or the product quality problems. I didn’t know, for example, that many inexpensive products purchased in the United States are actually made in China.
Now, I’m typically a pretty frugal person and I like to save money as much as the next person, but a getting a product for a few pennies or even a few dollars less is not worth it to me if it means that the product is unsafe or encourages human rights violations in another country.
A few weeks ago we tried to go China-free for our back-to-school shopping … with mixed results. I’m pleased to say that we were able to find most of the inexpensive items (pencils, markers, etc.) fairly easily. Sadly, we couldn’t find several “big-ticket” items on our list (backpacks, for example) without the “made in China” tag, even after going to four different stores.
Yes, I’ve become a tag-checker and the results have both surprised me and frustrated me. Since we’re going to be moving soon last week and we need a few new items of furniture we visited the Ikea store near us. Yes, I checked the tag and was surprised to see that it was not specific about the country of origin, citing that Ikea furniture was manufactured in many different countires. I did, however, find this statement at the Ikea website, which has me wondering if it’s okay to buy Ikea, or not.
All of this to say that what I learned from changing my shopping habits is that, when it comes to something important, it’s much harder to change than I thought.
This post has been my entry into Robert Hruzek’s latest What I Learned From… project.
Contents (c) Copyright 2007, Laura Spencer. All rights reserved.