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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:

fake-plastic-rice-china-pigs

Via Raw Story


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:

Photograph-Travel-Beijing-China-Dongzhimen-Red-Lantern-Alley

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

  1. Open a company
  2. Design things in the U.S. or Canada
  3. Find a Chinese factory to make your stuff
  4. Receive a sample from said Chinese factory that is undoubtedly perfect
  5. Be absolutely THRILLED that it costs 90% less to make the product in China vs North America
  6. Get a report / test on the sample to make sure it meets health and safety standards
  7. Give your business to the Chinese company
  8. Import in and sell your designs to your fellow citizens
  9. [Non-Existent] Obtain regular, random checks on your imported products to ensure standards
  10. Continue selling, until someone gets sick and then another, and another.. and another…
  11. Bleat repeatedly about how it is “Designed in California” or “Designed in Toronto”!!!!
  12. Become surprised when your Chinese supplier started cutting corners to make more money
  13. Deal with the PR nightmare that has blown up in your face
  14. 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.


RMB-renmenbi-money-China-bills-cash-Stacked-2

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?

I read an article the other day about how the pollution in China was the equivalent of smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day.

Shanghai-China-Photograph-Pollution

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.

fashion-italian-shopping-shoes-bag-purse

 

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?

  1. The Chinese government doesn’t let the news leak
  2. If the news HAPPENS to leak, they try to clamp down on it or blame other countries
  3. We may or may not pick up on the story to be able to report on it (or not at all due to politics)
  4. Our governments try and get the Chinese to get on board with safety standards
  5. 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.

Really?

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.

Beijing-China-Photograph-Carrefour-Grocery-Rice-Bins

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:

MAC-Makeup-Brushes-France-Stamped-Country-Japan-On-Handle-At-Bottom-Photograph
(The other two handles were a lot more faded, and less prominent, but you can still see faint traces of the country of manufacture.)

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.

Technology-iPod-Keep-Calm-and-Carry-on-Crown-Music-Listen-6

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

Cigarettes.

Teflon.

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):

  1. Governments like France are secretly kind of happy that people die earlier
  2. 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:

  1. No mention of which countries that do this — China is one of our, if not THE biggest trading partner
  2. 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.

RMB-renmenbi-money-China-bills-cash-Stacked

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.

Greenpeace-Product-Testing-Results-Victorias-Secret-Womens-Underwear-Toxic

Via Greenpeace’s list of tested, random samples of clothing

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.

Update: This is where I will be hosting the list of every brand I’ve found and researched into.

  • 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.


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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40 Comments

  1. Lynda

    I have questions about furniture cushions, Pillows and the like from China. Anything stuffed, or padded. We have had 2-3 horrid experiences with what we think was insects in the stuffed parts ie cushions padding and pillows. I had bites on my back, the backs of my arms and in my hair at the back of my head.The places that would be in contact with the Fabric.Not everyone was bitten Here but I seem to be a person who insects like.We disposed of the furniture and the bugs are disappearing. We bought American made to replace. No issues. I am curious if others have had this experience.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      One thought – shipping containers from foreign countries may contain or carry insects not native to NA.

      Reply
  2. Christina

    It seems very few people actually realize how many of the products used in daily life are made in China, use globally sourced materials (including China) and other cheap labor countries. If something says it was assembled in the US the parts can still have come from anywhere. In my house right now I have diapers, blankets, many of my kids toys and stuffed animals, clothing, cosmetics, personal hygiene products, shoes, the list goes on. Surprisingly, I looked at a package of dried strawberries and even those came from China, the the dried bananas I have are from the Philippines. .

    Reply
  3. rose

    this is literally THE most brainwashed thing i’ve ever read in my life, and i was part of the christian church for 15 years lol. you’re absolutely insane. people in america do exactly the same thing. we have romaine e.coli outbreaks from lettuce grown and raised in the us. flint michigan has lead in the water because an american company doesn’t care about them. don’t even get me STARTED with the medical industry. i have brain damage from american-manufactured machines because american psychiatrists decided that american bipolar people would benefit from getting the ever-loving crap shocked out of them.

    not to mention, i don’t think my indigenous american great-grandparents would give a crap about any of your american-produced goods, especially considering how many of them were literally murdered by americans.

    it’s not america, it’s just everyone. instead of doing some dumbass probably-racist “MADE IN THE GOOD OL’ YOU ESS AY” garbage, why don’t you turn your attention toward changing those policies and helping lower-class people afford things that won’t break in a few months. it’s all classism. i probably buy almost-exclusively chinese items because i’m living hand-to-mouth. i can’t afford to buy non-chinese items in a very real way — it’s not that i won’t have any savings, it’s that i’ll be homeless.

    besides, do you know how items are made in the usa? most of it is sweatshops, prison work, undocumented immigrants, disabled people working for less than minimum wage, and the like. something can be entirely sourced, created, and sold in the usa, and it will be guilty of more human rights violations than you could dream. it’s ridiculous.

    fix your garbage. this is not a cute look. hope you’ve figured your stuff out since you posted this a while back lol.

    Reply
    1. Christina

      The US standard of making for instance, beauty products, is a joke. As long as the label doesn’t make it seem/sound that the item could be used medicinally there is not much that is done to test any part of it. I could concoct a beauty product today and basically have it on store shelves tomorrow without a problem. Companies are not even required to disclose their entire ingredients list if they claim doing so would reveal a “trade secret”. There is hardly any quality control and outside laboratories don’t have to test the products at all. In fact, companies here can use their own data to say an ingredient is safe without having it checked elsewhere. Go right to the FDA website and you can find out just how lax our system here in the US is.

      Reply
  4. Christo

    Chinese are copy-cats, they don’t believe in ethics. Move the manufacturing plants to India instead, a stable country with a clean record.

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      They’re just as bad I am discovering.

      Reply
  5. Harry

    Most recently I became the victim of another Chinese made product when I bought a watch for my little daughters birthday.which was broken on arrival.So I took it to the watch maker to check the battery,he told me it was junk and couldn’t be fixed and when I told the seller first he ignored me then he offered 30% and when I complained he offered 50% and when I explained he was giving me back my money he wanted me to return it so he could claim a refund from his supplier before refunding me (for the cost of the watch only) and it would take 2 months.So I contacted Ebay who got me a full refund. Now I hate anything Chinese made but it is almost impossible to avoid as the entire country is saturated by Traders importing foreign products made in CHINA

    Reply
    1. sherry@savespendsplurge.com

      It’s that, or you have to fork out a lot of money for simple things.

      Reply
  6. D

    Please take note that a large percentage of “leather” products made in China are made from dogs, cats, and other animals which are sometimes skinned alive so that a quick buck can be made. All products made there are sold through deceptive means without full disclosure to the consumer! Please research this on the web (be prepared because it is disturbing) and be conscious of what you are buying.

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Thank you for the note.

      Reply
  7. Jane

    I try to buy items that are made in the good old U.S.A. as much as possible. I don’t mind purchasing items that are handmade or were made in Europe either. My biggest motivator is that I believe in supporting my local economy, versus cheap and exploited labor from places like China and Mexico. By the way, Mexico has it’s own issues with factories known as “Mequiladoras”. If you do a little research you will discover how workers, especially women, are exploited by American companies.

    As far as your vehicle, unless it is a big Ford truck, which are made in Kentucky, U.S.A. there is a high probability that it was made in Mexico. Even a lot of Asian and European brands like Toyota and Volks Wagon are manufactured in Mexico.

    Check out the website HauteAmericana.com for a list of items made in the United States.

    Reply
    1. saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I know that basically any country that is not a first world country has more problems with slave labour than places like Mexico and China.

      That said, the U.S. has sweatshops too. Don’t think that just because it’s in the U.S., it’s cheap and done well. Unless they have vertical manufacturing that is transparent (American Apparel) it is hard to know how they source their items and where they make them.

      It’s so stressful to try and figure out what is safe to buy and what isn’t. It’s becoming very frustrating, to be frank.

      Thank you for the link!

      Reply
  8. fabulously frugirl

    I’ve been thinking about this since our chat on the weekend. At the end of the day, I think a “summary” or big picture way of looking at this, is that there is so much disconnect between the stuff/food we use/eat on a daily basis that it results in us (the end users) usually having a completely different notion of where our stuff/food even came from, the process to produce it, and who is affected by this product.

    It reminds me of the 100-Mile Diet book, and Just Food books I read about food. Even though those books were on food, the fundamental argument that we, as consumers, need to be more informed to be able to make informed decisions still holds true. I admire your determination, and look forward to how you will address the challenges you face in this journey.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      So far the challenges are daunting. It’s been the cause of my stress (read: acne) lately.

      Reply
  9. Mochi & Macarons

    Thank you for your great input — I am an extremist on some things, and moderate on others. Having visited China, I turned even more extremist.

    You are right. I should certainly think about the product itself, rather than branding the whole country is to be avoided.

    By the way, your comment got caught in my Disqus spam filter. Thanks for your persistence, I notice you entered it 3X 🙂 I’m pretty sure it’s because you posted a link to TuckShopSundry Supplies.

    I am leaving the link in for now.

    I would most definitely prefer a Japanese car over an American one. I’ve driven the range of American cars versus Japanese, and Honda seems to be the best…. unfortunately, very rarely found secondhand 🙁

    Reply
  10. Tania Ginoza

    I try to avoid items made in China as best I can but once inawhile I slip and forget. Like this weekend, I bought a cute synthetic cowboy boot by Rampage from Macy’s for maybe 30 bucks. Super comfy. I get it home, leave it overnight in my car and take it in the house the next morning. Opened the box and it stunk to high heaven. Oh, yeah, China…it went back immediately.

    Many people will argue “but I can’t afford anything but Walmart”. It may be absolutely true in some cases but in many cases we overconsume as a society. If we really just bought exactly what we needed, we could buy less and spend a bit more on each item. The shopping hauls on youtube with the young girls really drive this point home for me. Young girl shares her monthly (or sometimes even weekly) shopping haul of 3 eyeshadow kits to add to her already overstuffed drawers of cosmetics, 5 shirts from F21 and several pairs of $39.99 shoes. Then she’ll show her one Stylemint shirt (made in the US) and talk about how it wasn’t worth the $30 because she can buy, like, three shirts from F21 at that price. I’m always thinking, “or you could just buy one, fullstop”.

    I’ve been meaning to write a post about origin sometime soon. I have a reader who is always asking me how much my home items cost when she sees it in my instagram. I get really uncomfortable because I know when I answer she’s going to respond “oh that’s way too much”. Sometimes I can understand and other times I’m thinking “actually that’s a pretty decent price unless you’re buying pure crap from Walmart”. I make pretty good money so I hate to kind of lecture someone about buying quality without really knowing them well. I’ll even go without for awhile until I can afford the one I really want before I’ll buy a cheap substitute.

    Reply
    1. Leisha Moffa

      I agree with you 100%.

      Reply
  11. Sara

    Maybe by the end of the year VS will be safe again?

    http://jezebel.com/5978672/victorias-secret-is-taking-the-pthalates-out-of-its-panties

    It just all makes my skin crawl. And I never want to shop again, ever. I’ll be interested to see what you find; I don’t even think I could tell you many European/NA clothing brands.

    Reply
  12. Jose

    My experience with Chinese products has been less than stellar. We bought a four wheeler several years ago for the kids and it wasn’t a year old before it started falling apart, the body plastics were junk and we basically had to sell it at a loss before it fell apart (with full disclosure!). About the only thing I’ve experienced from China that seems to be solidly made are their small engines (the ATV engine was pretty good) and that is probably because Honda used to outsource productions of their small engines to china. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the Chinese small engines resemble Honda small engines in all respects other than the branding.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I mean obviously we aren’t going to go as far as to move into the mountains and never buy or eat anything we don’t make ourselves again.

      That’s going a bit Thoreau-too-far….. but we have to remind ourselves and be conscious consumers of what we do purchase and luckily this has been happening in the past few years, so we have less and less of those items.

      At a loss or not, it’s just money.

      It hurts, but I can always make more, and it takes 10 years for non bio-accumulative things to move out of your system, which is pretty scary. That means if I have kids, they could potentially be exposed to that as a fetus and after they’re born. *sigh*

      Then things like mercury, don’t ever disappear, and lead can kill you in high doses.

      Reply
  13. Tim

    This isn’t surprising to anyone, right? Governments in theory are supposed to protect their people…the only problem is that only happens after they protect the business interests first. Hence all the problems that occur. If you don’t believe me just look at your government’s taxation system, trust me that businesses are getting the much better end of the deal. So what next? Are we going to discuss the the evils of the fractional reserve debt system? (Can you tell I’m reading Web of Debt?) By the way, thanks for the post…it gave me a few excellent tidbits to include in my next book.
    Tim

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, but it’s amazing that I went all these years, hearing all of these things and .. IGNORING IT.

      How could I have been so ignorant and stupid? Or maybe not ignorant AND stupid, but so.. blase?

      Oh I know businesses get the good end of the deal — I own one.

      You’re welcome!

      Reply
      1. Tim

        Oh, don’t beat yourself up over it. I think in general people forgot how well developed we are at ignoring problems, hence the blase attitude. It’s easier to do nothing and conform most of the time. Being different is bloody exhausting.

        Reply
        1. Mochi & Macarons

          You’re right. It is bloody exhausting.

          I’m tired, I haven’t slept this well since I worked 80-hour weeks, I’m frustrated and annoyed at everything.

          Still, it is something that cannot be unsaid and unseen. I can’t turn back now. I know too much.

          Reply
  14. MelD

    Makes life not only expensive but pretty tedious, trying to keep track. Ethically worth it, but how many people will really make the effort? I agree it’s sad and not right.
    Not even expensive or “European-made” means something is ethically ok. We paid 10 times more for a wedding dress that turned out to be made in Vietnam, because it was marketed in a small local boutique that looked as if they had their own workshop. Fooled. Next daughter we ordered the dress directly from China – the fabric and tailoring quality were excellent in both garments but at a fraction of the price and avoiding the middlemen. Still not sure how ethical it was, but hey.
    As for “European-made” – there is a huge difference between western/central Europe and southern or eastern Europe but very often, there is simply no choice. My husband found a local shoemaker and enquired about having shoes custom-made, willing to spend what it takes – except CHF 5000?! Prices become utterly ridiculous and you still don’t have the guarantee that the leather is ethically produced, no chrome-tanned etc. You have only guaranteed that the craftsperson gets a fair wage…
    I could buy only underwear made here in the local factory and have done so before now – till I heard how they employ only lowest-wage foreigners, so really, only relatively better than buying any other overpriced or cheap foreign underwear. Surely “Made in USA” only means the workers are likely to be Asian or Mexican immigrants (possibly illegal and not getting fair earnings?) etc. if the price is acceptable…?!

    No wonder we capitulate a lot of the time.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Exactly. All of this on top of whether or not we have to worry about how the raw materials and products are created to begin with, before they’re manufactured elsewhere.

      It’s frustrating, I have a headache right now and I’m really annoyed with the whole business.

      The good news is that it further strengthens my resolve that I shouldn’t be a stupid person and continue buying things without thinking. It’s not only costing money, but the less I have, the better it is for everyone.

      Reply
  15. CorianneM

    And, ehh, no, I don’t trust Chinese products! I’ve studied China too much for that 😉

    Reply
  16. CorianneM

    Good luck with your quest! You reminded me of a very interesting article I read while I was still living in China. Some quotes:

    “At the moment, consumers in China are still more concerned about getting poisoned than getting fat.”

    “One common profitable shortcut is illegal additives. Clenbuterol – an anabolic agent used to produce leaner meat that can also cause nausea, headaches and heart palpitations – has now become so ubiquitous that the Chinese General Administration of Sport has banned athletes from eating pork in the run-up to the London Olympics, according to the blog of Olympic rower Huang Wenyi. A 2011 German Sports University study found that 22 out of 28 tourists returning from China tested positive for the steroid, an indicator of how far the drug has permeated the food chain.”

    YES, Chinese Olympic athletes were actually NOT allowed to eat anything outside of their training campus, to avoid getting such drugs into their bloodstream and risk being disqualified for the games.

    And then there is this thing called bureaucracy, and an example that shows noone apparently feels responsible or obliged to even answer questions:

    “Sometimes, they compete to pass the buck: our call to the Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision was directed to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which insisted that the matter is the SFDA’s remit – and the SFDA, of course, suggested trying the Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision.”

    http://www.timeoutbeijing.com/features/Blogs/15611/Cheat-eats-China%E2%80%99s-food-safety.html

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      That is horrifying.

      What else have you found out? Do you have sites that you go to?

      Reply
  17. Liquid_Independence

    I wonder if Chinese tourists would get upset if they bought a souvenir
    from Canada and found out it was made in China 😉 Whenever I buy goods imported from China I do a quick Google search to see if there’s any obvious problems with it. Human rights abuse and dangerous air pollution would be the biggest concerns for me in that country, and two wongs don’t make a right 😀 Unfortunately there’s no simple solution to the many problems you’ve outlined. Running a nation with over a billion people can’t be easy, not to mention actually changing policies for the better.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I’m just avoiding the whole country and other cheap countries. If the price is not what I expect it to be, and the quality or the brand is unrecognizable, I’m not buying it.

      Tableware and cookware is my #1 priority to replace.

      Reply
  18. Michelle

    Could the chemicals be washed off though or is it forever in the clothing? o.o

    I am looking forward to your future posts on what to buy or avoid. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Michelle

      I also wonder if products made in Vietnam, Philippines and the like are just as bad… :/

      Reply
      1. Mochi & Macarons

        They are. The fabric is sourced from China.

        The key is to find out WHERE it is sourced and where it is made. All parts of the chain can be contaminated.

        Reply
    2. Mochi & Macarons

      They can be 80% washed out from the first wash. If you hand wash things, you will notice that even dyes come out.

      The 20% remains and continues to release into your body and the environment.

      Reply
  19. Cassie

    I was wondering what was up when you were tweeting companies about their manufacturing locations. Good to know. I just checked my Le Creuset casserole dish, and it says “France” on the bottom. I can’t imagine it’s cheaper to ship cast iron than it is to enamel in house, so I think I should be okay with this dish. I’ll check the bottom on future dishes though. I’m a little concerned about the ceramic pour over coffee maker I just bought though. I saw the “Made in China” on it when I got home :s

    I think you may have just given me incentive to give my underwear drawer a once over. I’ve been wanting to do it for years, now I have an excuse.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      Yeah sorry. Twitter was the only way I could reach them because their Contact pages were nonexistent or very well hidden 😐

      Le Creuset is pretty much made in France, but you have to be careful because around the same time of 2009-2010, during the recession, they shipped things overseas.

      Underwear from any place that states where it is made and even better, the SOURCE of the fabric is a good thing.

      That’s why I chose Cosabella. I saw that it was cotton sourced from Europe, and even at $32 a pair, I am willing to pay once every 4 years (or more) to replace everything.

      Reply
  20. Joe

    Couldn’t agree more. I don’t trust communists and that includes the Chinese. I mentioned this today in talking about Huawei. China hacks whoever the hell they want and steals billions from Canada — Google “Sidewinder Report”. Seriously, it’ll shock you.

    Canada’s rush to integrate trade with them is only going to end with disaster. They just lie (e.g. “Yes we’ll improve human rights if you give us the Olympics”) and then do whatever they want anyway. They should be sanctioned for currency manipulation but pro-globalists are OK with how this policy has ruined North American industry. We are on a verge of a robotic revolution and China is actively trying to keep this technology down, lest they be left with the world’s largest workforce that has been negated by manual labour bots.

    Reply
    1. Mochi & Macarons

      I only came to these thoughts AFTER I visited China. Before going there, I had the same assumptions and stereotypes as everyone else, thinking they’re some advanced superpower.

      I get there, to the biggest cities in the country (Shanghai / Beijing), and I realize that it is not what I expected. I didn’t know what I expected, but I was thinking more of the way Tokyo felt to me. Clean, organized, efficient, etc.

      It was the total opposite, if you wander off the beaten tourist path, which is what I did.

      Reply

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