Friday, November 23, 2007

The Pledge

So, hopefully if you have been reading my posts for awhile, there have been some that made you laugh. Maybe some have made you think. Maybe some have even made you cry. I sincerely hope that this one will make you think, at the very least, but I also hope it will make you ACT.

Those of you with children, or those of you who read newspapers or watch tv, or those of you who haven't had your head buried in the sand somewhere, know that lately there have been several recalls of various children's toys. But, maybe you haven't seen the list. I got an email with a list of toys that have been recalled recently, and I was appalled. It would take me 2 days to go through this entire list, to make sure I haven't bought or received any toys that could harm my one year old son. I don't have 2 extra days to spare, and I'm betting everyone else with kids doesn't either.

Where are the majority, if not all, of these toys made? China. I decided to do a little research, and this is a sampling of what I found in just 20 minutes of online searching...

-"The Asian and Pacific regions harbour the largest number of child workers in the 5-14 age group, 127.3 million in total. (19 per cent of children work in the region.)" - found on www.unicef.org/protection/index_childlabour.html

-"At least 1,000 children aged between eight and 16 years have been enslaved in the illegal brick kilns in Shanxi province.
The letter, signed by 400 fathers from the central province of Henan, pleaded for help in their self-organised campaign to rescue the kidnapped children. It said the children had been kidnapped or forced into cars in urban Henan centres such as the capital Zhengzhou, then sold to factory bosses for about 500 yuan (65 US dollars) each." - found on www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38212

-"Over the last ten years China's economy has been growing at double-digit rate thanks to the labour of millions of migrant workers churning out goods for export in exchange for low wages. But, as the economy boomed labour disputes multiplies. more and more workers have gone to court or taken to the streets to protest poor working conditions and overdue pay." - found on www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38212

-"The Chinese government sees child labor as one way to combat poverty and does little to enforce the
laws against it. The companies are more interested in their economic investments than the status of
their workers. So far there have not been any convincing signs that the situation will improve or that the
issue has become a priority for the Chinese government." - found on www.tulane.edu/~rouxbee/kids99/china2.html

Am I the only one who thinks that this is not OK? I am MAD. I am mad as a mother. I shouldn't have to worry about the toys I buy having lead in them. Parents have enough to worry about. I am mad as a consumer. I should have the choice to buy a product that is made in the USA, or one that at least isn't made in China. I am mad as an American. These American companies are obviously turning a blind eye to what is going on. They don't seem to be concerned with our children, instead they just worry about the all mighty dollar. I refuse to believe that Americans would rather save a few bucks, and make a company rich who is using children as slaves to make their cheap ass products, than to spend a little more for a product that is safe, and made legally. Please tell me I am correct in this assumption.

After doing the research, I started looking around my house, turning over toys, books, and clothing. It makes me sick to tell you how many of the items in my home say in teeny tiny lettering "Made in China". Too many to spend my time counting. I don't know if you have heard the radio ad yet about Walmart. It says that 70% of the items in Walmart are made in China. That wasn't a big concern to me because I try desperately to avoid Walmart as it is - the place gives me the creeps. But, I was shopping in Target recently, a store I like, and every single item I wanted to buy was "Made in China". I left the store disgusted and with no items in my cart. Today, I found a bunch of items I would like to buy in a catalog. One problem - there is no way of knowing where they were made. I would have the same problem if I shopped online. Consumers are left in the dark about this issue. Well, I for one refuse to be left in the dark anymore.

So, this is my pledge. I will not buy or accept ANY gifts this Christmas that are manufactured, printed, or "Made in China". Even if that means I don't buy or receive any gifts this year. At least I will have the gift of peace of mind and a clear conscious.

19 comments:

Kellan said...

I think we should boycot China for all the reasons you mention. Good post - you need to send this post to the magazines or newpapers - it is publishable!! Take care and see you soon. Kellan

penny said...

I have a link to a related story about recently recalled toys and product safety. For full disclosure I own the website which features only fair trade, organic and green gifts. Non-toxic and eco-friendly. I will say that there are a couple of game companies that manufacture in China but they are very strict about adherence to fair trade principles, human rights and safe eco-frindly products so they use things like soy inks etc. They also go to the factories and inspect everything and actually talk to the workers, they would pull out if their products were in any way harmful to the people that make them or the people who use them, that includes working conditions. I think a large part of the problem is that some companies know and don't care, others believe they are being told the truth about human rights and safety when in fact they are not. Good intentions don't go far enough. In any case, please take a look at this article which addresses many of these issues.
http://www.taraluna.com/Press/RecentlyRecalledToys.htm

Thank you for your insightful and information packed essay.

Penny Schafer
Taraluna
http://www.taraluna.com

Kristi *sweet* Sauer said...

Thats unimaginably horrible!! I had heard about the recalls, but childhood slavery....OMG. i don't shop at Walmart, but i better keep a close eye on where my products are manufactured. This is scary business!

yankee617 said...

Unbelievable! Back in July, I started looking for Made in USA products, for many reasons. I did decide to act. The result is a database where busy people can go and lookup products that are Made in USA. Fast and Easy. It will even tell you what retailer sells the items. I hope it will add to the cause! www.madebyyankees.net

Toni said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I, too, am appalled by the number of items saying "Made In China" that I have in my home. Something must be done and I applaud your efforts at keeping your family safe!

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Kudos to you - I know that I alread had one of the most recent toys purchased and wrapped for our nephew when I read abou the recall. It was pretty scary. Giving a kid that contains the date rape drug just makes me sick.

Hallie

Pam said...

Hi Jen! Just wanted to stop by and say no problem! I understand you can't real all blogs every day...thanks for stopping by when you can - I appreciate it. I'm enjoying reading your blog.

You are right on with this post too! Way to go to you!

Amy said...

great post and i am with you on this.

Joanna said...

I agree with Kellan - get this published!!

Shellie said...

My uncle just wrote to the companies themselves about this very issue. It's a big problem. There is a lot of corruption over there right now. If everyone made a loud noise, it could help things to change.

Karen said...

I truly hate all the store stuff anyway. Not that we don't have any... I sell at a place called Etsy and everything is handmade. They've got some awesome toys there. If you need to do some Christmas shopping check out Etsy.com

Jen said...

Thanks to all of you who commented about this post! It is a serious problem, and if we all made some noise about it, maybe something would be done. Keeping our children safe is our number one priority! Thanks also for the websites - I plan to check out each one.

Not The Mama said...

Chiming in a little late since I'm still catching up on everything I missed over Thanksgiving weekend. I'm with you 100%. I've been making a concerted effort over the last year to live life more simply -- cutting back on consumerism, buying locally when possible, eating whole foods rather than gobs of chemicals and byproducts. That means making the gifts I give, rather than buying "made in china" time bombs. Who knows what will be recalled next? And given their human rights issues, I wouldn't want to support them even if they could guarantee the products were non-toxic.

Oh, and I second Karen's suggestion of etsy. I am continually amazed by the adorable, affordable gifts I find there. And I'm about to open my own shop as well. It's a great way to support individuals rather than corporations.

Joelle said...

Hi, Jen.
I think this is an excellent post. Have you considered writing it up as a letter to the editor and sending it to your local or state newspaper? Or USA Today (do they take letters to the editor?). This Christmas, shop at craft fairs and markets. Buy handmade toys and gifts. Read Jerry Spinelli's CRASH and see what it has to say about toys and what's important. Buy used books...

Amanda said...

I'm afraid I think you are unfortuntaely correct in assuming we Americans want cheap things, and plenty of them, at all costs -- hence China's manufacturing industry. I fully believe our consumerist society has some responsibility to bear in all of this. If we didn't need our gazillions of toys and our $10 Walmart toasters we wouldn't be in this situation with China, which is NOT to absolve China of its appalling safety record and practices.

As a South African who oved to the US some years back I was always struck by how cheap everything was here and how much we in th US expect things to be cheap. If a toaster is broken you toss it out and get a new one. Not so in other countries. We are a commodity-driven country -- and our kids have so much stuff it's crazy but you can't blame that on China. I agree with you --boycott China. If you can. Not sure it's even possible but we have to stop supporting this country's industry.

I should also add as a mom that the toy safety thing worries me, but for every one child out of millions who gets hurt by a Chinese toy, there are millions of Chinese suffering in polluted and toxic work/live conditions. The toy thing certainly has a bad impact on us...but just imagine the impact on them, not to speak of the environment at large.

Too awful. Good luck in your China-less quest, Jen, and thanks for stopping by Crabmommy. I surely do appreciate your readership!

Zoe said...

even worse check out the children and adults enslaved to pick coffee beans. so you know only 4% of starbucks coffee is actually fair trade. soooo depressing.

Joelle said...

This is our favorite coffee. http://www.groundsforchange.com Fair trade, shade grown, organic... Drink up.

Joelle
http://www.joelleanthony.com

Musical Midnight said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I am totally with you on this topic. My sister-in-law has a 5-year-old who loves Thomas the Tank Engine. He collects them, even had a Thomas themed birthday party last year. it is scary to think about all those toys now sitting in his toybox, and makes me wonder: Is the lead paint problem a recent issue, or one that they've been getting away with for awhile that the powers that be only just discovered?

Regardless, I am now striving to not purchase anything bearing the "Made in China" label, and of the items I have that do have that stamped on there, I'm looking to find American-made replacements. (And by American-made, that includes no parts that may have come from China...which probably will mean that I won't be doing much shopping from the big stores.)

Sparx said...

You're so right. There was a radio show on over here the other day where they asked listeners to take off all their clothes and report on the country where they were made - almost none were made in the UK. It is very worrying.