I ran across two interesting things this week, one posted on my Facebook page and the other in a Yahoo! Groups post on Compact.
These sites, xmaswithoutchina.com and the Marie Claire Yahoo! Shopping post, when combined together, portray a picture of our consumeristic “can’t live with it, can’t live without it”, but not necessarily in that order. First, we must have it. How many times have you looked at the “made in” tag on something you purchased? I don’t do it very often, if at all. Well, not now anyway, because of the challenge. But before, when I was shopping, I rarely looked at these tags. It’s a law that the place of origin, or manufacturing place be listed on the item, or on the packaging.
I decided to pick up 50 random items in my house to see where they were made. My findings were not surprising. 60% were made in China, 38% in other countries besides the USA and 2% in the USA. The 2%, accounting for one item, is an art bowl, purchased at a local art show. Just in case you’re wondering, the items were such things as clothing, electronic games, toys, computer equipment, home decor items, alarm system, cookware, bedding, light fixtures and small appliances.
The Christmas without China is a challenge to take everything made in China out of your house and to shop for Christmas gifts, making sure none are made there. This is the start of a documentary on this subject, by a man from China.
The 19 unusual gifts nobody wants is crazy stuff, available for purchase just in time for Christmas. Let’s look at a couple of these items.
Gold pills, editable conceptual art. Guaranteed to make your poop glitter. Made from 24 carat gold leaf, and costing $799, the artists say that these pills will “turn your innermost parts into chambers of wealth”. these are part of a collection, and again the artists say, “INDULGENCES addressed the creation of and demand for the unnecessary, directly commenting on the ever-expanding market of luxury items in our culture, seven INDULGENCES were created.”
Wow. These must be the opposite of happy pills because if I took these, I would be depressed for years. Do you know what I could do in this world with $799? Honestly, I would take that amount and throw it into a burning fire before I would buy or eat these, making the one still living designer, Ju$t Another Rich Kid, any richer. Stupidity has no limits. This proves theres a market for everything and anything. Wow.
Inflatable fruitcake. Oh, where do I start with this one… If 99% of the world hates fruitcake, why is it still so popular? First, if you’re going to spend $10 for an inflatable anything, it better be big enough to float on in the pool during the summer. Second, do we really need more stuff for the landfill? Third, “the fruitcake they’ll want to get”? Who wants this? I want to meet them. That would be a whole new blogging opportunity. And last, “Click ‘play’ button to watch!” Watch what? Some weirdo blowing one up? Okay, I had to look. Curiosity got the best of me. Yes, again, stupidity has no limits. Besides calling this a keepsake, this guy is blowing up a fruitcake, and also demonstrating the deflation for when you’re tired of it. He talks about enjoying it, but he had not demonstration for that. How does one enjoy an inflatable fruitcake? The world may never know… Oh! And they’re made in China.
Microphone Salad Grabbers… Sing-a-long tongs for your musical chef. Ummm, I’m pretty sure the chef isn’t the only one eating the salad. Do you want people singing and spitting into your salad? Look, I’m not a germ freak, but this is a little weird. With these tongs, made in China, “you can make your meal fun and healthy, and you don’t have to sing into your spoon anymore.” Let’s first look at the marketing here. Salad grabbers pictured with a big plate of spaghetti. They say that these tongs could turn Julia Childs into Ozzy Osbourne. Now that’s a video I would like to see. At least these are a useful item, but the word novelty comes to mind. China, your house, then the landfill. Mince, gather, repeat.
There are many things to think about in this information. A few things that crossed my mind…
The big picture. What are you supporting by buying the things you’re buying? I’m not against buying things from China, or any other country for that matter. I am against people that gripe about our economy, yet support the very things they’re complaining about. Make a difference. If everyone made a few small changes, it could have a huge impact on our economy.
Awareness. Where was this made? Who are you supporting by buying it? Again, I’m not against buying things from China, or any other country. I am against sweat shops and buying things we won’t use. Is it a want or a need? Either one is fine, as long as the want isn’t temporary.
Defining keepsakes. I’m no expert here, but feel pretty safe in saying inflatable fruitcake is not a keepsake. Keepsakes are meaningful things that remind a person of someone or some happy memory. Most keepsakes are not something you buy, they’re handed down or custom made.
Useful versus used-ful. I have things in my house that I don’t use and could do without. This no retail challenge has taught me a valuable lesson about the items I buy. My thinking has changed. I don’t want things to be used then making the landfills full. Instead of buying something because I like it, I do the mental gymnastics of the “it’s” life span.
- Will I use it?
- Will I like it in a year?
- Is it useful?
- If I walked away from it, would I still want it a week later?
- Is this money well spent?
I know this is a lot to think about when shopping, but it’s a positive, life changing thought process that can make a huge difference in your life, and the life of others. You probably can live without it, but are you willing to?