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WEB EXTRA: SUSTAINABLE LIVING -- Made in China PDF Print E-mail
Written by SHAWN DELL JOYCE, Creators Syndicate   
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 19:48

It is difficult to buy anything that is not made in China today, because the U.S. imports more than half of its consumer goods from that one country. Many people are starting their holiday shopping this week, and most of that hard-earned money will go right to China.

The flood of consumer goods from China has nearly tripled since 1997, and the number of recalls has grown proportionately. The Food and Drug Administration is deluged by this flood. The FDA has only 1,317 field investigators for 320 ports of entry. The agency inspects just 0.7 percent of imports, half of what it did a decade ago. David Acheson, an assistant commissioner for food protection at the FDA, points out that it would be impossible to test all imports from China. "It's got to be based on risk," Acheson says.

And we have seen how risky it is, with recalls on pet food, produce, toothpaste and many other products. According to WorldNetDaily, "FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs."

Recently, China quietly surpassed the United States as the world's top polluter. China has no real environmental safeguards in place to protect drinking water from contaminants, no labor laws to keep children out of sweatshops, and no legal ethics to keep entrepreneurs from producing dangerous products. In addition, our communities suffer financially when we buy imports over locally made goods. When we opt for a cheaper import, our dollars flow out of our community and fund a system that degrades people and the planet. Our small businesses suffer; manufacturing jobs leave; and we find ourselves with boarded-up storefronts in our downtowns. This economic exodus further devalues our currency and increases the demand for "cheap."

A recent economic study conducted in Austin, Texas, found that if each household in Travis County redirected just $100 of planned holiday spending from chain stores (carrying cheap imports) to locally owned stores, the economic impact would reach approximately $10 million. Imagine what $10 million could do for your community.

If you are getting fed up with cheap imports flooding our stores and damaging our economy and dangerous products slipping through the holes in our safety nets, here are a few simple actions you can take today:

  • This year, think "home for the holidays" and spend your money locally. Visit local artists, crafters and artisans for gifts. Look for items that are made using local products, as well, for example, wines from local grapes and jams from local fruits.
  • Boycott anything made in China, even for only a week. It will make you aware of how overdependent we are on imports, and it may protect your family from unsafe products.
  • Lobby to make it illegal to sell defective goods and for every business in the supply chain to be legally responsible for what it sells.

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning columnist and founder of the Wallkill River School in Orange County, N.Y. You can contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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