Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

A Year Without "Made in China" Review

After the tea ball experience, I find it fitting to give my opinion of the book,  A Year Without "Made in China" by: Sara Bongiorni.  The author writes about her New Year's Resolution to not purchase any products made in China for an entire year.  I won't give a full review of the book, for reasons of keeping this short, but I felt the book lacked substance.  I am a cynic by nature but the book really started to piss me off!

The book went from one item to another that needed replacing, and the author's struggles with finding replacements not made in China.  The author also focuses the book a lot on gifts to her children.  What the book completely missed was the re-evaluation of how much "stuff" we really need.  Not once does the author consider purchasing a product used or even foregoing the physical gift and giving the gift of experience for someone.  For example, the author's husband wants to purchase a blow-up pool for their son's birthday.  What about using the local pool or looking for a used pool at a garage sale, second-hand store, or Craigslist?  A simple example of reuse is birthday candles. At one point in the book, the author cons her sister into bringing birthday candles to her husband's birthday party because all birthday candles are made in China. She clearly violated the boycott, but then she turns around and throws them away and later uses tea lites for her daughter's birthday because tea lites aren't made in China.  What about reusing the candles----eliminate the waste?!  I have used the same birthday candles for 5 years now and they still have plenty of use left in them.

I was flabbergasted at the sheer amount of gifts the author's children receive throughout the year.  Again, it comes down to values and giving kids toys for everything which only sets the expectation of more toy giving.  It's that word again, STUFF.  How about the author take her children to the Zoo, park, swimming pool, or treat them with ice cream?  Why must she belabor the Made in China products when she's in the store trying to find Halloween decorations, when there are probably fresh pumpkins outside of retail stores and grocery stores in her area?

What about finding alternatives for things and use your creativity?  For example, the author hims and haws over the lack of beach toys her children have at the beach and then proceeds to steal all of the "forgotten" beach toys left on the sand when families leave.  How about using other containers (e.g. yogurt tubs, ice cream pails, etc.) that produce the same or similar effect even if they aren't brightly colored with star fish imprinted on the sides?

Has our ability to be creative in gift giving completely diminished?  Giving the gift of experience has so much more meaning and memories than a plastic figurine, whether it comes from China or not.  I understand that the book was trying to make a point about China globalization, but the book could have had more substance if it evaluated Americans' attachment to stuff; and how we can get the same quality of happiness without all that stuff.   Think of how much time the author spent researching and fretting about trying to find non made in china stuff that could have been directed towards time with her children, volunteering in the community, etc.


jenn merfee-t February 3, 2011 at 3:02 PM  

I agree completely! We love getting gifts for visits to local classes or attractions or time spent together. I think the more you and I and other readers and friends give gifts of love and time and local delights, perhaps something handmade within a cloth gift bag, others are sure the follow suit. Thank you for this thoughtful review of the book. It is amazing how much STUFF we get from China, but I get such relief and pleasure from making and giving something truly wonderful with STUFF we already have in our home or garden.

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A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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