This is going to be one tall order!

A few days ago, after putting my two kids to sleep and putting the house back in order, I collapsed on the bed and snuggled under the covers with my husband to watch some TV before we fell asleep. We were watching the Daily Show per usual and on this particular episode they had a segment that really struck a chord with me. It was about a Chinese factory having to install nets to prevent Chinese workers from jumping to their death as a means of escaping factory life. Not exactly a comforting image to have before falling asleep.

I looked around my bedroom and wondered how many things in that room were made in China, if I was honest with myself, probably most of it. I mean what’s NOT made in China these days? It’d be easier to list the stuff Not made in China than it would be to list the things that were. My sight then uneasily settled on my iPhone4 that was laying on the nightstand right next to me.

Yep, that was definitely made in China, and probably came from the very factory they were talking about on TV. I felt ashamed and outraged….deeply deeply ashamed. I realize this is some very heavy stuff I’m talking about now, and I’m usually very light hearted, but this was seriously upsetting and really solidified my reasons for not buying anything made in China from that point on.

Part of me always knew that the conditions of workers in China had to be difficult, and that’s putting it lightly. I knew they would not be able to mass produce things on such a cheap and large scale without making some serious sacrifices, but I guess I just chose to not think about it.

I’ve been wary of Chinese products for a while now. Since the birth of my first son in 2008, I’ve been reading labels a lot more closely and paying attention to where things are made and what materials are used to make it. I insist on buying BPA free. I thought that was enough, until I discovered one afternoon while reading a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room that I also had to pay attention to Phalates and PVC.

To put it bluntly, I was not very enlightened on the subject before having children. I was your typical middle class working American young professional, I worked hard for my money and wanted it to stretch. I had student loans and car payments to make. When it came to my food and home products I never paid much attention to labels and just assumed if it was on the shelves then it must have passed some rigorous government testing and rules to make it safe for me to purchase and/or consume.

Something about having to start feeding my son solids got me thinking about what I was putting in his mouth. I looked around at the food we bought and ate, none of it was organic. I started reading about why one would want to buy organic in the first place. It always just seemed like over-priced pretentious food for pretentious people. I was floored by my ignorance. I immediately started buying organic food, or at least what I thought was organic (more on that later). I had a hunger to educate myself on the safety of the products I used on my son, what I bathed him in, the lotion I slathered on him, the diaper creams, the shampoos, the toothpastes….the list goes on and on…

Did you know there’s a whole website dedicated to giving a safety score to everyday products we use on our skin and bodies? I had no idea. I found this site and started searching for the products I had in my bathroom. I panicked and threw out all the skin products I had for him and ran to the nearest Whole Foods and bought him organic and chemical free products. I keep trying to educate myself, and every day I learn how much I actually still don’t know. It’s exhausting. I try my best and I’ll keep trying. I feel much more enlightened than I did 3 years ago for sure, but I know there’s still so much for me to learn and so much for me to find out. I find myself becoming more and more “crunchy” (I hate that word) with every passing day. I now cloth diaper my youngest son whereas I used Huggies on my oldest. I’m slowly replacing all the plastic in my house with glass or stainless steel or ceramic. I’m really trying but I know there’s still so much for me to do and this blog is dedicated to my journey of “doing”.

Which brings me back to the whole China thing. I used to shy away from products if I knew they were made in China. I’ve read too many recalls for things laced with lead and/or cadmium to know that many cheap products from China come with a steep price health-wise. But to be honest, I was only half-heartedly doing it. I think I was most surprised when I was browsing through the aisles of Buy Buy Baby and came across a box of Baby MumMums. Displayed across the front of the box was the word “Organic”. Yes, this seemed like a great product to buy for my 8 month old. I take a peek at the label…..yep, Made in China.

Many products that claim they are organic are still made in China, and maybe I’m a serious skeptic here, but really, how organic can they be? I have a hard time believing that China would have the same organic standards we have here in the US, and don’t get me started on the mislabeling and intentionally misleading advertizing on so called organic and natural products here in the US.  Also, on that same note, I read an article a while back about organic farms in China, it’s not good news for the Chinese people. To sum the article up, organic farms are very limited and the organic produce it produces is strictly available to the elite and/or rich and none are available for the general public. So basically I am now on a mission. I am on a mission to take responsibility for the products I buy.

  • know how mistreated Chinese workers are. You’d have to be living in a cave not to be aware of that.
  • know that the safety regulations on Chinese products are just not good enough.
  • know that I want to buy organic products that do not contain harmful chemicals for me and my family.
  • know I want to also be as environmentally friendly as I can be during this process.

So my personal challenge is to buy only organic, earth-friendly products that do not contain harmful chemicals, and are Not Made in China. I know this is going to be one heck of a tall order. It’s going to take some serious research on my part, and a lot of effort (and money…), but I’m willing to do it and blog about it in hopes of maybe helping others find alternative products to the everyday chemical-laden, China-made products we use. I will try my best. I’ll be posting about my successes and failures and I’m anticipating quite a bit of failures. I’ll be researching and shopping for NMIC products as they run out in my household and as needed for the family. Guess I can kiss Thomas the Tank Engine toys goodbye! I’m going to try and compile a list of all the products I used to buy and the new chemical-free, not made in China products I use to replace them. I’ll be learning as I go but hopefully you’ll be learning right along with me. Or if you already know maybe you can just tell me and save me the hassle! The one thing I am sure of is that every time I look at a label and see Made in China, those suicide-prevention nets will be the first thing that pop in my head and that image alone will make me drop that product, turn around and keep looking for a better and more humane alternative. It’s a matter of principle.