Tuesday, November 06, 2007

toys made in China? thanks, but no thanks.

It's not often that I put this blog down on the ground in the middle of a crowded World Wide Web, step up onto it and use it as a soap box from which I deliver my views on a specific issue in a way that will hopefully make you take action.


With the Christmas shopping season fast-approaching (already HERE, if walking into Wal-Mart is any indication - they were actually playing Christmas music over the sound system the other day), I feel it's time to bring up something important.

I've been cleaning out my daughter's room for the past couple days. A better word might be "purging" her room, since it's been too long since I've been a good little Fly Lady fan and dumped all the useless junk the girl never plays with anymore. But my mom will be coming to town in a little over a week, so it was definitely time to address that particular room, which serves as a grandmother/granddaughter sleepover spot whenever Abue comes to visit.

Anyway, I couldn't help but notice that just about every toy/gadget/tchotchke that either got thrown away, put into the Goodwill bag or put back in its proper place had the inevitable "Made in China" stamp on its underside.

Now, let me just admit here that I am a major devotee of both Wal-Mart and the Dollar store, both of which sell massive amounts of Chinese-made junk. Much of it is useful junk, though, and it's always cheap, which means a lot when you have kids and live on a budget. This fact alone might make me a giant hypocrite for writing this post, but I don't think so, and here's why:

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock has probably heard about the widespread recalls of toys made in China that came with free, extra helpings of lead. This is really scary to a parent because in the worst-case scenario lead is fatal. In the less-worse but still horrendous-case scenario it can cause irreversible developmental delays. And I'm really happy that you can find such detailed recall lists online, but I can't help but wonder about the toys they haven't tested yet, those that are still on the market.

So, have I decided to boycott Chinese-made goods entirely? Heck, no, though I heard an interesting piece on NPR about a family who decided to do just that for an entire year. She ended up having to buy kids' tennis shoes out of a European catalog, and paid something like $75 for them.

But here's what I am going to do this year and for every year in the foreseeable future when it comes time to buy toys for any kid. I'm going to check out websites like this one and this one. I'll still check out the toys at Wal-Mart, Target, etc, but if I can't find anything made in the U.S.A., then forget it. I hope you'll make an effort to do the same.

Do I think American toys are perfect and without risk? Of course not. But I know for a fact that literally millions of toys coming from China are not only imperfect, but they have put my kids' health at risk in a very serious way.

Which brings us to an easy way to both buy American and shop locally: Hit your local holiday craft fairs this year! I'll be hawking soap at one of Flagstaff's biggies this weekend, and I'll also be doing some shopping, which means I'll be putting money directly into the pockets of some of our insanely talented local artisans. I can't think of a better way to spread some early Christmas cheer.

So, what you you all think about this issue, and have these recalls changed the way you shop for kids? If you have any good ideas on non-Chinese-made toys, please share!


  1. Anonymous5:28 PM

    Preach it, sister! Seriously I have to add an amen to this. I deliberately decided to curb my shopping expenditures by not buying anything made in China...at the Dollar Tree. Talk about challenging! I actually did cave and buy two items (I can't remember now why but I had my reasons). When it comes to kids' clothing (especially for Target shoppers like me), though, it gets really tough though I have been trying, so usually I end up with stuff made in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Mexico and then of course I start waxing philosophical about those countries' governments and labor conditions, etc., and at this rate I'll be making my own clothes--NOT! But toys, yes, I can and should do that, both for safety/health and moral reasons. I do want to support our economy and not support a country whose ideologies and practices conflict with my convictions. So thanks for those links--I will use them!

  2. Anonymous5:31 PM

    I went to both sites and it turns out they're one and the same. They have some really cool train sets!

  3. I actually have an unnatural fear of both Walmart and dollar stores. I'd rather just do without whatever I thought I'd need there...shudder...

    I've made an effort to buy locally made stuff whenever I can. It's not always easy but it's worth it. I prefer handmade, but I also like knowing that the person who built it will benefit directly from my dollar.

  4. I'm not surprised at your appearance in Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, and of course at your articulateness. Thanks for giving me a socially acceptable reason for not liking the Chinese. Arrogance is difficult to put down easily. Hurrah and Amen. I say again Amen.