Saturday, March 1, 2008

Book Review (sort of) "A Year Without Made in China"

A Year Without "Made in China" - One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy, by Sara Bonjiorni.

I picked this book up at the library - thought it would be an interesting quick read. I'm always looking for something I can read on the old Nordic Trak and this book seemed to fit the bill.

It was interesting at first but I got tired of it rather quickly. The premise is interesting - the challenge of shopping for an entire year without purchasing anything that was made in China (including internal parts of electronic things).

The author decided on this journey after surveying the after Christmas loot and realizing that so much of it came from China. In explaining to her young son about why they don't want to buy so much from China she says we ought to give other countries a chance to sell/make stuff for us too.

Author soon realizes that it's pretty hard to always avoid "Made in China" and when you can avoid it - you pay a small fortune for said item. There is one caveat in the no China purchase and that is gifts or throw away or used items don't count.

See that right there would make it a lot more easier for those of us of a frugal nature. I regularly shop at (and enjoy!) thrift stores, "junk" stores, garage sales, Craigslist, and curb freebies (well actually we've only once got something from a curb - a large wooden kitchen table that had a "free" sign on it - my dh repurposed it as a desk). I do put my limits at dumpster diving but even as I write this I do remember a dumpster diving event in my life.

I was maybe 8-10 yrs old. I loved playing "school". Of course I was always the teacher (a harbinger??). I had a made-up attendance sheet and all the kids I didn't like in real life, were the kids that were absent or the kids that got in trouble and maybe required a "note" home from the teacher. Someone in our neighborhood found out that the elementary school near us was throwing away a bunch of school papers. Multiple photocopied (but it wasn't actually photocopied - that old blue paper stuff) worksheets. This friend got the idea for us (maybe a group of us) to go and get the papers to play with. So we went to the school climbed in?? or leaned in and got out stacks of paper. How fun to actually have worksheets for my "students" to complete!

Anywhoo back to China...

The book was a little too drawn out for me - I made it about half way through and then flipped to the end. The author kept referring to her husband as "the weakest link" (which didn't endear her to me) in the whole project. Needless to say if you are going to embark on some sort of year long lifestyle journey you are gonna need to have both spouses on board totally.

I've never been part of the "Boycott Red China" (a bumper sticker I've seen before) crowd.

This is my take on the whole "Made in China" deal. Having stuff made cheaply in China has resulted in a higher standard of living for the "poor" and the not-so-poor in the USA. The author couldn't find shoes not made in China so she spent about $68 on a pair from another country. How many middle-class or lower-class or folks on welfare can afford to pay $68 for a pair of shoes for a 4-year-old? How many can spend in excess of $100 for a pair of sunglasses? And even if you could afford it - why would you want to pay that amount?!

I just randomly picked up a few things in my office area and found a few made in China, a few made in USA, one made in Switzerland, and one made in Malyasia. It would be an interesting experiment to try going a year w/out made in China - the author even got a book deal out of it (she was already a journalist and or writer) - but I'm afraid I'd cave in too soon.

How about this idea "A Year Without New"...everything you acquire has to be purchased from a thrift store, garage sale, Craigslist, eBay (except eBay NEW items), curb freebie etc.? Well I should say everything except foods, hygiene products and medicines that is. Now I think that would be a fun idea.


Abbi said...

I think the year without new stuff does sound fun. We actually have been trying that in several ways this year. The kids and I have decided not to buy any cloths if possible (I did break down and buy a coat for my eldest son for next year that was super cheap on clearance). We are trying to just wear out what we have, remake clothes to make them work and use hand me downs. We are also trying to buy as little as possible of other things. My reasons were, We have an over abundance of stuff already and I would like to cut down on clutter, Not buying saves money and I also like the idea for the enviromental reasons.

Anonymous said...

You could join "the compact"