Can we trust anything made in China? My life with as little of China in it as possible.
Disclaimer: I am not posting this in an attempt to ram this Anti-China bit down your throat in a militant manner.
I am doing it because I didn’t know about it before, and I wish someone had informed me.
Or if I had been smart enough to have taken initiative to inform myself.
As always, do your own research, come to your own conclusions and decide for yourself.
It doesn’t matter to me either way, but I am sticking to my convictions and what I think is correct by putting my money (literally) where my mouth is.
There is an excellent blog post from Rants from The Rookery that has been updated over the years called: Tell me why we should trust anything made in China?
I won’t repost the entire list of what has been linked to in there, but here are the really scandalous ones:
- China’s poor treated to fake plastic rice (made from potatoes and plastic)
- Pulverized lime (inedible product) used to bleach flour from China (makes it heavier = more $$)
- Melamine in baby food, pet food chocolate and animal feed
- Asbestos found in children’s toys
- Tainted animal feed with wheat gluten from China given to farmed fish in North America
- Tainted toothpaste with diethylene glycol (used in car engines)
And the list goes on.. and on… and on.
You will also notice that either on purpose or not, a lot of the article links that The Rookery has linked to, have mysteriously disappeared or are “unavailable”.
Come to your own conclusions on that.
Here are a few more articles I found on my own just by searching for about 2 minutes:
- Carcinogens found in Chinese-made sauces
- Cheap $2.44 Flip Flops from Wal-Mart caused chemical burns (…allergic reaction my butt!)
- Cadmium and Lead found in drinking glasses made in China
- Lead and Cadmium in your pretty pottery and tableware
- Can you get lead poisoning from old dishes?
- Arsenic found in Mott’s Apple Juice with concentrate from China
Photograph I took in Beijing
Then you read this on forums:
“Would you hang plates in your home if they had lead-based paint on them?
Someone just asked me if I wanted some decorative plates and a plate rack that she didn’t want anymore. I said, “Sure!”
And they are pretty. Then she told me they had lead paint on them, and it felt awkward to say I didn’t want them after all.
She made a big deal about washing her hands after she touched them. :confused: One of her kids has a mild delay, and she seems to be getting rid of toxins in her home.” (Source)
My highlights are in red. AND SHE STILL TOOK THEM!
Read the response to the others who said: Yeah hang them up but don’t use them…
“Good. :001_smile: They’re hanging on the wall now, and I love them! I want to redecorate now...“
I would NOT be taking lead-anything from anyone. In fact if I had lead-done stained glass windows, they’d be gone in a heartbeat.
It’s like saying:
Oh yeah, just a little toxicity is fine. You won’t die RIGHT AWAY, maybe in 20 years, or with other toxins, get brain tumours, but .. hey, we all die some time right?
If you read the notes and the instructions carefully, you might even find a company that says: Hey we never asked you to EAT FROM or COOK WITH those pretty plates. They’re just for decoration, not for use.
In addition, I’d like you to understand that they don’t mention “China” in many reports, but they say “Imported”, because it sounds better than “China” or “PRC / People’s Republic of China”.
WHAT THE SUPPLY CHAIN OF A COMPANY ‘SOURCING’ IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES LOOKS LIKE
- Open a company
- Design things in the U.S. or Canada
- Find a Chinese factory to make your stuff
- Receive a sample from said Chinese factory that is undoubtedly perfect
- Be absolutely THRILLED that it costs 90% less to make the product in China vs North America
- Get a report / test on the sample to make sure it meets health and safety standards
- Give your business to the Chinese company
- Import in and sell your designs to your fellow citizens
- [Non-Existent] Obtain regular, random checks on your imported products to ensure standards
- Continue selling, until someone gets sick and then another, and another.. and another…
- Bleat repeatedly about how it is “Designed in California” or “Designed in Toronto”!!!!
- Become surprised when your Chinese supplier started cutting corners to make more money
- Deal with the PR nightmare that has blown up in your face
- Go out of business or Switch Chinese suppliers and do it all over again
Samples from companies are going to be perfect. They want your business.
Photograph of the RMB stack we had before going to China
Once they have your contract and your money, they’re doing what they want behind closed doors, unless there are independent, non-Chinese managers wandering about, questioning them every minute of the day if they see something suspicious.
How likely does that sound?
Even worse, if you’re searching for a bargain, they’re going to give you a bargain, but it won’t be the same product. If it’s too cheap, it is too good to be true, and this applies to everything, not just purchases:
- Potential employees or freelancers who ask for significantly less $$$ to do “exactly the same job”
- Services that claim to do everything you asked for, for only $10
WHAT THE SUPPLY CHAIN OF OUR GOVERNMENT DOING THE CHECKS LOOKS LIKE
Frankly, with all the reports of all the crap that has been imported from China making it through our “health and safety checks”, I am not convinced that the government does more than read the import label of ingredients for “Lead” and “Cadmium” or other toxins.
I wouldn’t doubt it if 50% or more of things “Made in China” that have made it to the U.S. and Canada are tainted, and we don’t even know it.
I don’t trust our government to be able to be THAT diligent in checking.
Heck, even in Germany which is pretty organized as a country and part of the EU, found toxic chemicals in bubble tea (tapioca balls).
If in Europe, they’re unable to fully protect their countries with their stricter laws and regulations, how can we expect to top that?
HOW THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT HANDLES THE PROBLEM
This is a trick question right? Because they don’t.
The problem does not exist, and it is all in your head. Want a few examples of sheer ignorance being bliss for the Chinese government?
- China turns to a Madison Avenue agency for a ‘makeover’ — Right, because it’s just the marketing of your poisonous products that we care about… /sarcasm
- China forced the Pollution Report from the World Bank to be modified
- Plus countless of other articles about how they keep promising to “do better” and do “checks” — can you really believe anything the Chinese government says?
The everlasting smog cloud in Shanghai (my photograph) and this was a “CLEAR” day..believe it or not
I believe it, but I’ve also experienced it. When I visited, on my second day my throat was hoarse, I fell sick and I really felt disoriented and fatigued.
From all the reports I’ve heard, and things I’ve read, they’re so poor that they’ll pretty much do anything for money, and this can indirectly transfer to us by way of cheaper, more toxic substitutes added to food and products that shouldn’t be there.
I don’t want to believe that they are malicious, but perhaps ignorant about safety is the better word. Anyway, who can blame them with a government that pretends things never happened?
YOU’RE JUST PARANOID, IT ISN’T ALL CHINESE PRODUCTS THAT ARE TAINTED
Yes I know, you’re right. It is also products from Third World countries like Bangaldesh that are tainted, and other countries that companies outsource to.
I have to be vigilant on anything that sounds too cheap and too good to be true, and I am aware that I sound paranoid (hell I sound paranoid even to myself), but do you really want to believe that what you’re using is not tainted or cheaply made to some extent?
Have you ever asked yourself: What is the cost of that?
Take a whiff of that Dollarama bag full of goodies you purchased recently for only $5.
Do you smell anything unusual? Let’s say… a kind of stink, embedded in the plastic?
What do you think that is – the smell of properly made plastics (if there is such a thing)?
I had this Nexxtech Universal Charger set (for when I travel), and even after 3 years of being among my things, it smells like the kind of nauseating plastic odour I have come to hate in all dollar stores.
(It’s in the garbage now.)
WE ARE ONLY HEARING WHAT HAS BEEN REPORTED
Can you imagine that if we are only hearing what has been reported, what has gone UNREPORTED?
They say that people tend to underreport things, some other examples include: victims of rape, victims of scams and phishing, etc.
We don’t want to say how stupid or how bad things are because we feel bad for whatever reason — shame, guilt, or sheer gullibility.
…. so can you imagine these layers of secrecy?
- The Chinese government doesn’t let the news leak
- If the news HAPPENS to leak, they try to clamp down on it or blame other countries
- We may or may not pick up on the story to be able to report on it (or not at all due to politics)
- Our governments try and get the Chinese to get on board with safety standards
- The Chinese government says they’ll do it and vow to NEVER do it again (read: get caught)
All of that, trickling down to consumers is just a SMALL PERCENTAGE of what has actually happened behind the scenes.
We consumers are outraged but then our short memories forget all about it.
We go about our day, practically ACCEPTING that Chinese-made goods will always carry a potential of killing us from toxins and additions of crap and poisons to cut costs and save money, and we seem to be totally fine with that.
OKAY … FINE….. BUT IT ISN’T ALL THE COMPANIES DOING THESE THINGS!!
Yes, I’d agree that it isn’t 100% of companies, but … WHICH ONES ARE THEY?
I don’t know, you don’t know.
As a result, I’ve been making a list of everything I own with its Manufacturing Country of Origin, and for the most part, they’re all being a bit cagey.
You get a lot of emails that aren’t specific, and don’t list where they have their manufacturing plants or how they source their fabrics.
Photograph I took of rice in a grocery store in China. Is it fake plastic rice? Who the hell knows?
The worst, are the ones without ANYTHING written on their products.
On their websites, only a few companies (mostly European), such as Stabilo from Germany for highlighters, pencils and writing instruments actually have an FAQ and a whole list of questions that state:
Where are our products manufactured?
How are they manufactured?
What do you use in them?
Examples from Stabilo:
- FAQ: Dangerous substances such as formaldehyde, benzene or trichloroethane are not used in STABILO products
- FAQ: Where are Stabilo pens manufactured?
MAC makeup brushes are also able to be checked on the brush handle if they are made in France, Japan or China. Source
I checked my MAC brushes and saw this very faint stamp at the bottom of the handle:
Those are really properly-run, careful, and trustworthy companies in my opinion. I mean, I’ll avoid any brushes from MAC made in China, but still.
I appreciate them being honest about it so I can make a choice as a consumer afterwards.
Otherwise, you’d be hard pressed to find the answer.
Only when you email them, do you get a response.
ARE WE REALLY GOING TO ONLY TRUST “OFFICIALS” OR THE MEDIA TO HELP AND WARN US AHEAD OF TIME?
We have come to the point where we ignore our own basic human rationality and instincts because we have been told to always trust what officials say.
They’ve even done studies on this that we are SO trusting of people who are official-looking and sounding, that we will follow them, even if they aren’t really in charge.
A study was done by “Bickman in 1974 that had research assistants “order” people passing by on the street to do something. When they wore security guards uniforms, almost 9 out of 10 people obeyed.” Source
Other officials include the government, news reports, things you see on TV, hear on the radio or any kind of official-sounding body or organization.
I know this sounds hypocritical because I am practically citing all of those sources, but I also have a personal, suspicious, spidey-human sense that this is not all hogwash in addition to listening to the reports and news.
Photograph of a common British saying during the War
The media is also controlled by a few people. This really sounds like a paranoid, conspiracy theory, but it’s true. I only managed to find Rants from the Rookery by Googling the correct keywords: “Can we trust products made in China“.
I tried clicking on their links, and a lot of them have mysteriously vanished for whatever reason (I’ve started saving and PDF’ing key articles as a result).
How is it that only someone like an amateur blogging website, can list out and put together all the cases over the years of suspicious, repetitive reports of China NOT handling the problem?
HOW ABOUT OTHER PAST EXAMPLES OF BEING SILLY TO TRUST OFFICIALS?
Blood-letting as a life-saving measure.
Lead in makeup
Cocaine in “medicinal” drinks (e.g. Coca-Cola, hence “Coca” in the brand name; no cocaine in it today)
What do all of the above things have in common?
They are things that everyone who was official — the government, doctors — kept saying were fine and dandy for your health.
Doctors were recommending patients with nervousness to smoke cigarettes to help their voice and calm them down. (Source: Watch The King’s Speech. Or just Google it.)
What else do they have in common?
They’ve all been proven to be hazardous to your health, or just plain addictive and not good for you.
Oh wait, except Teflon in Canada.
We’re still allowed to heat up Teflon here, and release 16+ chemicals into our food to kill ourselves, even though the FDA in the U.S. has ordered all companies to stop producing that PFOA chemical by 2015.
Still think we are infallible humans who should trust official people without taking any kind of hefty grains of salt?
OKAY… SO MAYBE OUR GOVERNMENT ISN’T BEING PURPOSEFULLY MALICIOUS
Maybe our governments aren’t being specifically malicious and in denial as the Chinese government, but let’s all agree that our governments do NOT have the resources or the capability to check and test everything that is imported, to ensure it is safe for their citizens.
Our taxes would increase, and NO ONE wants to pay more taxes.
Do you really think they want to tell you: Hey everyone, we’re going to start testing and checking stuff purchased overseas, and your taxes will go up about 30% as a result. Are we cool with that?
Plus, they are leaving the responsibility of being a conscious person UP TO YOU.
You are your OWN PERSON.
Just as they don’t meddle in your finances, or tell you how to raise your kids, it is your job to be a vigilant consumer, and if you want to continue your practices of being cheap and living off Dollarama goods, who are they to stop you?
“It’s a free country.”
I heard 2 other interesting points from a rather cynical commentator (a doctor) on the French-from-France radio (Les Grosses Tetes):
- Governments like France are secretly kind of happy that people die earlier
- People who work there and see the problems, only tell their immediate friends & family
He had a point.
It’s actually better for governments that give government pensions to citizens, that we don’t last very long past the age of 65.
After we stop working and we retire, we are a burden on society.
We use universal healthcare, we have to obtain an income of sorts to live in retirement, and we aren’t producing any more.
This is the harsh reality that I think we sometimes forget to acknowledge, because we want to believe that other people care for us as if they’re our immediatefamily.
This is not all hogwash, because they care …. but only to a certain extent, which is why they tell their family and friends about what they discovered at work, but we are essentially nameless and faceless.
I guess they aren’t really allowed to blow the whistle independently on anything without an official, rather non-descript bulletin such as this one issued by Health Canada about lead-tainted crystalware. They have to go through official channels. If you read the bulletin carefully you will notice 2 things:
- No mention of which countries that do this — China is one of our, if not THE biggest trading partner
- A short vague “hint” about tableware: “Use lead-free tableware when serving children or pregnant women ” — How about when serving ANYONE?
If children or pregnant women can be affected by this, so can adults.
We are all humans part of the same race, after all. I don’t believe in this “trace amounts are fine” crap.
No amount of toxins are acceptable because everyone reacts differently, and perhaps MOST healthy adults would be fine, but what about my family members with destroyed immune systems after years of chemotherapy?
They can’t even get a cold, without a fear of dying from it now.
THE ONES WHO KNOW ALL THE DIRTY DETAILS, MAY BE THE ONES WITH THE MOST RESOURCES TO STAY SAFE
The ones who are REALLY in the know at the government, are rich enough to purchase non-tainted items at exorbitant prices.
They don’t need to worry about the problems of middle-class folks who are working on budgets, and seeing that something for $1 is far better for their pockets than $10.
As an example: Who the heck can afford to buy Cosabella panties at $32 a pair? Or Cosabella bras at $100 a pop?
At La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21, Old Navy and other such stores, underwear comes at $3 per pair, or $30 for 3-5 of them, and bras are only about $15. I know, because I bought my underwear there, thinking: HOW CHEAP!
Recently, I tossed them all in the garbage and I purchased Cosabella panties at $32 a pair, but I am only planning on buying 7 at the most, and doing laundry every week, and 2 pairs of bras.
I’ll be out about $479.12 after sales taxes, just for BASIC women’s underwear.
I can afford it without breaking the bank, but how many people aside from me, can afford that?
THIS IS REALLY A CASE OF MONEY VERSUS YOUR LIFE
It’s just money.
You can’t use your savings if you’re dead.
You can’t bring your children back to life if they’re poisoned as a result of it.
We can be excited that we bought $1 worth of goods at a dollar store that would “normally” cost $5 in another store, but that excitement is unfounded.
Photograph I took of the (probably tainted) yuan/RMB money when I visited China
We’re only happy that we saved $4, but we don’t ask ourselves basic questions like:
- How is it possible that they can make something for $1 that costs $5?
- It looks the same, feels the same, but is it really? (Probably not, will break in no time)
- How did they make it so fast for so cheap?
I am absolutely guilty of this, and it is stopping as of yesterday.
I am shaking my head and feeling rather sick at the whole thing.
But trace amounts or not, I am not taking a risk for a few bucks or more.
I will willingly spend $10,000 to replace all the basic essentials I need (underwear being one, tableware being another), and suck it up as my CHOICE to not buy cheap crap and take the risk of killing myself.
NOT USING ANYTHING OR KEEPING ANYTHING FROM CHINA
I went through all my things, and am currently making a list of what is Made in China.
I will be posting a follow-up of what I find if it’s interesting, and at the very least, how many things I actually own, what I kept and what I got rid of.
I also went through all of my parents’ items, and tossed all the tableware and things that we put our food on, and heat up our food on, right into the garbage.
The most important things are what you use to put your food on and heat up.
The second most important, are your clothes and jewellery, but you can use your own discretion for this part.
Underwear for instance, is more easily absorbed into your blood stream being near private parts, than clothing on your arm, although your skin is an organ and can absorb everything.
So far, we have done research and come to the following brands who have stated on their websites that they do not use toxins; is it any surprise that most of them are French?
They’re all expensive brands, so don’t squawk about the price.
I warned you.
- Le Creuset — $515 for the large pot; Watch out for their ceramics, they are made in Asia
- Staub — All Made in France, but who knows, they could be moved to China soon
- Alpico — Fantastic tableware from France (e.g. $30 a plate)
- Duralex — Glassware from France (about $4.50 – $7 per glass tumbler)
- Pillivuyt — Porcelain from France
- Emile Henry — Bakeware from France
- Wolford Tights — Made in Austria
- Stabilo Stationery Products — Germany
- Equipment Clothing — After 2010, they are all produced in China
- Cosabella Intimate Clothing — Made in the USA of European Cotton
Other things to remember:
- Painted and decorative items are just for decoration; unless it states explicitly: Safe to eat and use, assume it isn’t.
- If a mug has lead-based paint on the outside, but you think it’s safe because you drink the water on the inside of the glass, then you better be careful to wash your hands for 15 seconds each time you touch that glass because lead can transfer from your hands to your mouth
My Macbook Pro keyboard (tainted, I’m sure..)
I also know that ALL my Apple iThings come from China (really, what doesn’t?).
I am trying to see what I can do to avoid prolonged exposure to these items that I can’t get rid of (need a laptop to work), and to try my best to lower my exposure.
If you can come up with anything else that I should be aware of, or may not have mentioned, please let me know.
P.S. Expect my budgets to be well-broken this month and until we go through and replace all the major things we need to.
We obviously will not replace the car (I’m sure things are made in China in there too), so we aren’t going to extremes and becoming hermits living on an untouched mountain, but we will be making a great effort to change our things.