I have known for a while that many of the goods Americans purchase are made in China. Although I knew the importance of trying to buy locally, I thought you had to be a wealthy person to be able to avoid purchasing goods from China. In A Year Without Made in China, Sara Bongiorni demonstrates that even the average American can achieve the goal of purchasing everything you need without buying Chinese made goods.
Reasons for Avoiding Goods Made in China
The author begins by telling the reader that she and her family decided to go one year without purchasing anything from China. She had a family of 4 at the time, she, her husband, her 4 year old boy and baby girl. The family has nothing against China. However, Sara wants to try an experiment as a new year’s resolution to see if it is even possible to avoid buying anything from China for a year. Sara and her husband are most concerned about Christmas and holidays, which they know are dominated by goods made in China. One of the exceptions made before the experiment are gifts from people are allowed that come from China.
The author had already boycotted Walmart years before her experiment. She notes that Walmart is full of Chinese made goods, even though Walmart is not forthcoming about this and even tries to hide this fact. I want to note that I have tried recently to avoid buying from Walmart as well for other reasons. It is possible to avoid purchasing goods coming from China, Walmart and Amazon on a budget.
Avoiding Food Made in China
I recently wrote about a topic along the same lines – how to avoid purchasing food from China. After researching, I found that some items that are difficult to determine the origin are spices and herbs. Thankfully, I found a company (Food to Live) that has high quality spices, including organic garlic powder grown in the USA. The author accidentally slips up early on in her experiment. Her husband points out the mandarin oranges she has been buying come from China.
Is It Possible?
As you may already know, most books published that you buy are made in China. I checked inside the book to see where it was made and was pleased to find out it was printed in the USA. This book was also written in 2007 and the experiment was done in 2005. The family seems to run into a number of problems throughout the year in order to stick to their new year’s resolution.
Even though I have not tried this experiment myself, I think it may be slightly easier to follow in 2021. I say this because I have recently tried to avoid purchasing anything from China. It requires attention to deal and being very intentional in my purchases, but it is very possible. I have not done this for a long period of time. Nevertheless, I have been noticing it is a little easier than it used to be to find things made in the USA or other countries.
The most difficult things to avoid are electronics, holiday decorations and lamps. I think as more people are becoming aware, they are noticing where the things they buy come from and wanting to avoid buying from China. More companies have emerged in the US that are American made or made in other countries.
Being More Thoughtful
In the end, Sara’s husband asks if they can continue their experiment. They agree not to be as strict and allowing for occasional purchases from China. Her husband is grateful that they stuck to their trial and reflects that it has made them more thoughtful consumers. I really love this the most about the book. Being a conscientious consumer is something I first learned about in college in my international business classes. I wanted to be able to do that, but again, I thought it required me to be wealthy to do so. It may not require wealth, but it requires reflection and thought more than we are used to.
Americans mindlessly try to find stocking stuffers and buy gifts for family and friends “just because” instead of putting more thought into it. Maybe we should really think about the person we are getting the gift for and think about what they actually want or need. We do not have to buy the cheapest plastic gift off the shelf (something the person may throw away after receiving) just to check something off our list. It is more important to put our hearts into our purchases and give more meaning to gift giving. After all, Christmas is about the birth of Christ, not the decorations, the tree or the gifts. Those are just nice ways to celebrate and remember Christ’s birth.
I hope you will consider reading this book and maybe even taking a pledge with me to not purchase from China. Let me know in the comments your best tips for avoiding buying Chinese made goods on a budget!