Thursday, January 8, 2009

My passion... beads. Oh, and men's underwear is interesting, too.

I was taking my sick little rat home from the vet today when I passed a bead shop. The car automatically slid into a parking space so I went in. She had a fantastic selection at reasonable prices but, unfortunately, did not know where many of the beads originated from. I am going back there in a few days but am in a quandary whether to buy the ones without a known origin, knowing they are most likely from China but not necessarily. Before Christmas I found an adorable princess-themed wristwatch for my niece that did not have a "made in" label. At the time, I thought it was fair to get it (until I eventually did, after poking around a bit, see a "made in China" sticker on it and had to put it back.) Hmmm. If I cannot get a place of origin after due diligence, is it cheating on my pledge to buy those products? I'm not sure.

On a sexier note, I found some interesting underwear at called "Mens 3G Not Made in China Low Rise Brief". I called customer service and they had me on hold for several minutes while they were researching the place of origin. They are made in Canada! (Lookin' good, Canada.)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Momma needs a new pair of shoes

I went online to Vegan Shoes and Bags as I need some insulated winter boots and my husband needs some dress shoes. Very good prices and no dead animal skin. Perfect. I placed my order over the phone with a very helpful and knowlegable man. As I was getting ready to give him my credit card number and was still exploring the rest of the website, I came across the FAQ section and saw "Why buy from China?"
Oh no! I confirmed that all my purchases were indeed made in China and, after apologizing profusely, explained why I was canceling my order. The FAQ section does explain that they buy from responsible companies, etc etc. But how do I know that? The government does such a poor job overseeing and regulating things that I don't trust that following THEIR labor laws really means much. They also mention that we shouldn't boycott the whole country but, that, in fact, is often what a boycott is. We currently have an embargo against Cuba and widespread sanctions against Iran and North Korea. In a country like China, where there is no oversight of any kind that can prevent tainted dog food, toys, baby formula or medications such as heparin, when the very top people only care about power and profit, then what companies in China can we trust?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas shopping

I went to BigLots last night (my first mistake) to get a few last minute little items. I wanted a toy for two little girls in Germany - every play set, jewelry making kit, paint by number, Barbie - they were all made in China. Then I tried to find liquid soap - all 7 brands made in China. That had me concerned because then I wondered if there might not be poisonous substances accidentally allowed in the soaps that could leach into your skin with repeated use. I also was looking for an item for a male relative - everything I picked up to consider was made in China. Of course, it goes with my theory, if it was made in China, you probably don't need it anyway. But isn't that half the fun in Christmas shopping, buying things for people that they don't need or wouldn't buy themselves? Anyway, today I head out to a couple nice stores - World Market, for one, to see how I can do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Halloween shopping

I gave up on Halloween stores for purchasing my wig. I went to the California Merchandise Company in Santa Ana and found a beautiful wig labeled "50% made in USA, 50% made in Japan".

I also went to BigLots recently to finish putting together an earthquake kit. One of the items on my list was rope. There was no rope there not made in China - thick, thin, nylon, cotton, bungee cord - all made in China. The search goes on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I went shopping for a Halloween party I'm having. I LOVE Halloween. It is the only "holiday" for which I purchase home decor. Basically every piece of decor is made in China. From the cool door knocker that makes scary sounds to glow in the dark skulls to fake gargoyles. I didn't buy any new decorations. That made me sad. The only thing I absolutely needed was spider webs. I looked in Big Lots and Target - made in China. At the Party Store they had some, both white, black AND glow-in-the-dark, made in the USA!! I also need a wig for my Sarah Palin costume. So far, no costume wigs to be found that aren't made in China. I'm running out of time and getting nervous.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

reduce REUSE recycle

The reusing part of the Reduce Reuse Recycle mantra seems to be similarly forgotten. While riding my bicycle through Newport Beach I noticed a lot of furniture in the trash waiting to be picked up. A small bench, a stool, a coffee table. All in good shape, too. These things could have been donated to Goodwill or a similar entity or sold in a garage sale! A few years ago I found a large round coffee table sitting next to the trash bin outside of an apartment complex near where I lived in Philadelphia. It was in perfect condition but didn't fit my eclectic style. But I dragged it home and covered its surface with a mosaic of tiles, including 4 ceramic coasters I bought at a garage sale. The results were stunning. So now this piece of art sits in my front yard where we enjoy sitting around it drinking a beer or glass of wine.

Reusing items also keeps them out of the waste stream, where they need to be picked up from the trash and hauled to a landfill, which costs energy, money and space. Reusing also prevents the need to expend energy and money on the recycling process. It also prevents the need for a similar product to be manufactured (in a place such as China).

What happens to the stuff we toss out? Amazingly, a lot of it ends up in the ocean. Marine researchers Charles Moore and Marcus Eriksen were on their boat about 700 miles north of Hawaii in January and found trash everywhere. They found a vortex of trash bigger than Australia, covering 10 million square miles. This plastic, which includes billions of very tiny scraps that float on the water's surface, can be mistaken for food by fish and birds and can kill them. ``No matter where we go, we find plastic,'' said Moore, 60. ``The ocean is now this plastic soup, and we just don't know what that's doing.'' They frequently find larger items such as potato chip bags, lighters and toothbrushes.

This is a site where kids can learn to make crafts with used items, such as an old toothbrush!

Websites that encourage innovative reuse solutions:

Let's keep this from happening:

Friday, September 26, 2008

REDUCE reuse recycle

I have not written in a while partly because I have been reducing the amount of products that I buy. A recent purchase I made was calendars for my business to give to patients and business associates at Christmas. I emailed National Pen company and they quickly responded that the calendars I ordered were indeed made in the USA. I also bought some thank you notes at the airport - made in the USA. In general, however, I simply am not going to Target to meander down the aisles and find bargains. I am buying only what I need. That is a very important part of the Reduce Reuse Recycle mantra. We are all about recycling and many cities force us to recycle but the harder thing to do is to decrease the amount of goods we purchase. Shopping for many of us is an addiction, whether we realize it or not. Try NOT shopping for 2 weeks and see how you feel. It probably won't feel good, I can tell you. If you've ever been on a diet or tried to quit smoking, you'll recognize the feeling of having to give up something you crave.

Over the past 35 years, the amount of trash has increased per person from 2.7 pounds/day to 4.4 pounds/day. Buying less things means less packaging for those things and less paper or plastic bags they are put into. Also less natural resources (trees, oil, etc.) are used that go into making the products. If you must buy something, then purchase products that are durable and long lasting, unlike many things made in China. Buy whole foods that do not come in packages, like fresh fruits, vegetables and bulk grains. Buy in bulk. Or don't buy at all.