Boycott “Made in China”, that’s unpossible

First off, if you think my spelling sucks based on the title of this post, you must not be a Simpsons fan. Ralph Wiggum has a famous line on The Simpsons that says, “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.” I can’t wait to see the Simpsons movie.

Now that’s clear, let’s get to the focus of this post. I am reading the book, A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni. The latest mishaps of Chinese goods/ingredients/parts have caused some scare in consumers. I read in one news article about a woman swearing off from buying anything made in China after her dog got sick from the pet food that had contaminated wheat gluten manufactured in China. Aside from saying she is making her own pet food, there is no other details on how she is going to achieve her new resolution. But would making your own pet food help you avoid Chinese-made ingredients? Unless the pet food is made out of 100% fresh local produce (assuming what the farmers use to grow the food is exempt, think farm tools, fertilizer, etc), it seems impossible to be sure it’s free of China. I always think that a Made-in-China boycott would mean running around naked but I have no proof how hard it would be. When I read an article about Bongiorni’s book, I was like this got to be good.

Some might argue the boycott would be a piece of cake if Bongiorni is a single person with nobody but herself to worry about. The actual experiment involved a family of four: the author, her husband, their 4-year-old son, and 2-year-old daughter. A typical American family, you can say. First thing comes to mind would be toys and that have China written all over it. So do shoes, home appliances, and even birthday candles. Bongiorni found out that most holidays are “Chinese holidays.” July 4th decoration and other related products are mostly made in China, the same applies to birthdays, summer vacation and the worst enemy is Christmas.

I am over half way through the book and Bongiorni’s sense of humor makes it hard for me to put it down. Like when she caught a mouse in the house with her “home-made” trap (I don’t think a mouse trapped inside a tall trash can unable to get out qualifies as a self-made trap but whatever) and the whole family got in the car heading to a near-by lake to release the little creature. Bongiorni had to hold onto the trash can with the cutting board on top as the lid during the ride. When her son asked what would happen if the mouse was to escape the trash can and end up in the car, she thought (but not said out loud to her son) she was mentally ready to jump out of the car any moment and let her family and mouse to fend for themselves.

When it comes to kids, I always think most of their behavior is learned. Such as when Bongiorni’s daughter picked up a toy in the store, flipped to the underside of the box, said one word “China” and returned the toy to the store shelf. I have to agree with the author that her toddler had shown a behavior that has not been seen in any 2-year-olds in this world. Her son quickly caught on the boycott, too but since he has already advanced into verbal communication, mom had to answer repeatedly during the one-year experiment about “Why are we not buying China things?”

I haven’t finished the book yet but I declare it is absolutely awesome. Aside from the usual written media articles, I’ve also found a YouTube video and a radio interview archived online. And the “Seven Questions: Can You Live Without China?” is an interesting read, too.

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3 thoughts on “Boycott “Made in China”, that’s unpossible

  1. Great review! I just finished reading the book myself and decided that that there is no way I could live a comfortable life without China, I do, however, give the author full marks for even trying. I should have my review up either later this evening or tomorrow morning.

    What book are you reading now?

  2. Thanks for the kind words. I just finished the book 2 days ago. There were plenty of funny moments the rest of the way but I kept thinking the family seemed to buy toys way too often. Other stuff like shoes, clothes, printer cartridge, sunglasses had to be replaced because they were broken. Those purchases were necessary. It looks to me like the kids were getting new toys because they were upset from not the getting what they wanted due to the boycott. If there wasn’t the boycott, would they get new toys as often?

    IMHO, I think the best way to combat our dependence for foreign goods is to decrease the amount of stuff we buy. The average American spends most of their pay every month and sometimes more. This is not the case in other countries. Before I make my next purchase, I will think hard first, “Do I really need this? Can I live without it?” This is probably easier to do than to avoid Chinese goods.

  3. While my current rift with China for democratic reasons (see 9-19
    s op-ed in the Washington Post), I got into flirting with boycotting China over Tibet several years ago.

    I think you are right about making a real effort to reduce buying things made in China, but I’ve been having more success making the effort at Target than I thought I would. Crayola paints and art supplies are made in the USA, while RoseArt is made in China, so there is some wiggle room there. I was also able to find a way to hang pictures using a kind of supertape made in the USA.

    But looking down at that impulse buy and trying to peer into China and the circumstances it was made in, and thinking about monks in Tibet, sure has helped me keep my cash in my pocket!!

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