December 17, 2007

The NMiC Movement

I'd heard the story about an American family that decided to go for a year without buying anything made in China. Apparently this is not easy to do in America. Damn near impossible in Taiwan, I'm thinking. Used to be that everything in my toybox had Made in Taiwan stamped on the bottom. Nowadays when I see something that's still Made in Taiwan it's actually something of a happy shock. Factories have been relocating pretty steadily to China for the last decade or so, searching for, you guessed it, Cheap Labor.

Did a little more reading. The family is Canadian, but living in Puerto Rico. I thought they were American. Ok, Norte Americanos.

The safety issue is one that concerns me now. The news about toys in the States being recalled due to levels of paint in them makes me look with no small amount of suspicion at the toys my children are playing with at home and at the baby sitter's. The US has the Consumer Product Safety Division with this list of recalled toys. It's quite a lengthy list.

I am told that Taiwan has a similar Bureau dedicated to the task of determining which products are safe and which ones aren't, but I'm also told that the agents are buyable. So there's really no telling how much dangerous crap there is floating around. I mean, besides the dangerous crap that is floating around an obstructing my view of the mountains.

You may find this interesting. NotMadeinChina.net has all the horror stories you might expect to find about relgious oppression in China, along with loads of links to consumer safety sites and businesses that manufacture things in places that are ... well, not China.


Included is a Letter to Toys R Us which implores the corporation to stop using manufacturers in China for their cheap labor and maximization of profit. That's right, you too can participate all for the price of a First Class Stamp.

Why Boycott China? Well, one of my students puts it rather bluntly when he pronounces, almost daily, that "China Sucks." Can never quite move the conversation past this point. By buying stuff from small, local manufactuerers, you may be paying a little more, but you theoretically would be getting a better product and keeping locals in work, adding to the local economy etc.

Chinese people are, for the most part, I'm guessing, nice. I mean, to think that the greater part of 1.6 billion people were evil bastards would be just too pessimistic for even me.

Where to start? Well, if you're in Taiwan, a good start would be to refuse the chopsticks and little plastic spoons they give you with every order of takeaway food. If you don't have any bowls at home, go buy some for crissake. Same thing with those plastic bags. The only reason my wife takes me shopping is so that she can have someone to send out to the car to get the shopping bag she forgot to take into the store.

Look, I'm nowhere near flush with time to write a well organized blog posting, so this is what you get. Don't buy stuff from China if you can help it. Why? because my student says that China Sucks. I don't know, I haven' t been. Gary? What do you think?

2 comments:

Gary said...

I agree...buy less, buy smarter, and reuse, reuse, reuse.

When I'm on, I take a to go box with me when i go out to eat, and I don't take Styrofoam...I don't want their trash...

I know we want to demon-ize China for the toys and toxins, but it really starts at home. 1) Last I checked, the majority of toys are made by companies headquartered in the States. Where is their responsibility. 2) The federal government used to lead the world in protecting its citizens. Now, we are so far behind the eight ball I don't think it could get worse. Really, the EU and even Mexico, have banned some of the most toxic chemicals from being in products sold in their countries. So, now, toy companies make two kinds--one without toxins, one with. What the fudge?

Here are some articles of note:
http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=10094
http://www.healthytoys.org/home.php
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20071105/schapiro

And then, for visualization, check out World Mappers cartograms about toy imports and toy exports...
http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=57
http://www.worldmapper.org/display.php?selected=58

That's all for now.

hermitide said...

Being Chinese, NOT from China, I'm not sure about boycotting EVERYTHING from China. Some things MUST be under careful control (although I don't know what they are at the moment), right? Regarding toys, I do try not to buy toys made in China, particularly plastic toys, but then, I try not to buy ANY plastic toys, period. Lately, I've gotten into the idea of using only second-hand baby clothing and toys, particularly organic clothing and wooden toys from Germany. The way I figured is that I'm 'recyling', and because the clothes are used, whatever pesticide that was in the clothes have been well washed off already. Be well and take gentle care~~