After all the recalls in recent weeks for Chinese made goods, one would think that it would make people think twice about how and where we get all of our products from. But instead I saw the opposite in a pretty big article in a newspaper in Boston. The article was about how back in the day the United States made fatal errors too in creating drugs, goods and food-stuff…and now China was just going through growing pains like we did back then and things will get better. So the article was just saying “it’s the way it is, they will grow out of it” instead of concentrating on the real reason these recalls and problems are happening more and more frequently:
The American consumer wants t-shirts for $3.00 and furniture for $5.00.
We want it cheap and we want it today. Pay no attention to where it comes from, who made it, at what cost it gets delivered to our house…we just want it. Now. Does it matter if it is covered in lead paint? Not if it is only $1.99 it doesn’t! Do we care if our clothes are coated with formaldehyde? Not if they only cost a few bucks we don’t! It’s all about money…get the item for as little as possible and you win!
Sorry to tell you, but no one wins when you get an armoire for $15.
Not you, not the stores that sell armoires for $25, not the trucker that delivers it, not the ship that sails it, not the factory using slave labor to make it, not the average worker in China making $0.57 per hour — or $104 per month. No one wins. No one.
Even people I know have fallen into this trap. “But the stuff is so cheap there!” they will say, without thinking about why it is so cheap. There is a reason that Wal-Mart and other big box stores can offer you t-shirts for a few bucks: They drive factories in China and India to accept lower and lower dollar amounts for more and more work, which in my mind is what is going to lead to more chemical and lead paint issues.
Keep in mind that I am not saying that all goods from all other countries are laced with these problems. You just have to think about what price you could truly be paying to get goods from your favorite store. Are you willing to put your kids health at risk so you can get a plastic toy for $2 instead of a beautiful wood one with non-toxic paint for $12? Are you OK with putting a $2 t-shirt on your body that has been shown to be covered with toxic chemicals rather than a $20 one that is organic and made by people getting a fair wage?
None of us are perfect…I am far from it! But as I learn more and more about this stuff, I am way more inclined to think about my purchases on a human level and not just a monetary one. I do my best to buy things the “right” way and sometimes I slip up. But seeing the effect that my purchasing power can have on small business owners and companies trying to do the right thing makes me want to be careful who I give my money to. All I ask is that you give it some thought before your next purchase. Where did this come from? Who made it? Were they fairly compensated for their work? Is it safe for my child? I think if we as a population start making decisions based on these type of questions, that manufacturers and stores will start to think about what products they are offering us. Hopefully.
Just give it a thought…