Monday, May 14, 2007

The Yuan Stops Here

Look carefully. That is the yuan, an example of Chinese currency.
And now look at this: The U.S. Dollar. I wish I could show a magic trick where the dollar turns into the yuan, but all I have to do is look at the labels on my clothes, my electronic equipment, and my pet food.

I started thinking about the yuan after the pet food recalls. Never in a million years could I have imagined that an ingredient in Alice and Miss Kitty's food would come from China. Now, most of the time, I put a mental wall up against "the news". I listen to NPR on the way to the office, to keep myself "informed", but I usually don't allow any feelings to seep through, because, I tell myself, I am virtually powerless to change global issues. (snickers from my friends who remember my early activist days are allowed).

But then I started listening, and thinking. China's economy is booming. China's government does not have the safeguards in place to protect our environment, let alone the health and safety of consumers of products made in that country. Then add the fuel that it takes to ship pet food from China, or clothing, or toys, and the impact is appalling.

I kept thinking, what can I do? One person, in a small town in Central New York. Write my Congress representatives? Maybe. The President? (hah!) So I did nothing.

Then, the other day I was changing my clothes at the office, before going to the Y. Here's what I discovered: My skirt was made in China, my blouse in Swaziland, my bra in the Dominican Republic, and my panties in Bangladesh. And I didn't even buy any of them at Wal-Mart.

So here's what I decided: No more. I am not powerless. I have the power of the American Dollar. I will not buy any items made in China again, nor any made outside of the United States. Even if it means that I have to knit my own underwear, or (gasp) go without ala Brittany Spears.

I'm serious. And it's not going to be easy. Just try to find a small appliance made in the U.S. Or a pair of sneakers. In the past, I've ordered items from the Sierra Trading Post catalogue, and LL Bean. Guess where over 90% of those items are made? You got it -- Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, China. Our dollars supporting other countries who are taking our money , killing our pets, and poisoning our environment. No more.

I wonder what would happen if, just for one day, no one in America bought anything foreign made. Do you think the politicians would notice?


A South Park Republican said...

This is a great idea. I think it is going to be very hard to do in practice, but a great idea. If more people would do the same, it would be easier to maintain since we would probably have more American products to choose from.

Carrie K said...

But that wouldn't be making it the Global Economy. Which apparently means someone is getting very rich and paying very little while playing with lives.

Keep me updated on how this goes! I think I'll try it myself. I'm trying to do the local thing already.

Melissa K said...

I'm not sure how possible it is to buy nothing made outside of the US...but, our family has for many years sought to prefer items made in the US. So given, for instance, two similar rakes, we'll buy the one made in the US. We buy nothing, ever, at Wal-Mart.

If not already known to you, there are two websites you should know:

Affordable, handmade soap, by bicycle:

It's not all US made, but you'll feel better about it nonetheless: