Choosy Mothers Don’t Choose Chinese Crap

Isn’t anything made in the U.S. anymore?


Last week I thought I’d pick up some valentiney gifts for my kids.  The chocolate was easy; you can get that anywhere.  I went to the discount stuff store, thinking I would get them each a piece of jewelry.  Heart earrings for Tigger.  Maybe a necklace for Little Bit. 


The store had lots of suitable items, some in bright colors, some in “silver.”  I had just one caveat: I didn’t want to buy jewelry made in China, because Chinese manufacturers lace their cheap jewelry with cadmium, a metal even more toxic than lead. 


Silly me.  I checked the labels on everything that looked cute and fun and valentiney, and lots of other things too.  There was not one single piece of jewelry in that store that was not made in China.  Furthermore, the labels all said “not intended for children under 13.”  They didn’t add “because of the toxic levels of cadmium,” but that’s what they meant. 


I bought each kid a book instead.


Yesterday I took Little Bit on a promised shopping trip to the mall, so she could spend the gift cards she got for Chanukah.  We found lots of cute clothes (I didn’t check where they were made, but what are the odds?) at JC Penney, and then headed to Claire’s.  I sent Little Bit over to look at the headbands and other hair accoutrements while I checked the labels on the jewelry.  Made in China, every last bit of it. 


Fortunately, the child did not have her heart set on jewelry.  She bought three headbands and a purse (all made in China, hopefully cadmium-free, but who really knows?). 


It boggles my mind that we continue to import goods from China.  In scandal after scandal we have learned of the many ways Chinese manufacturers have sent poison for children to eat or play with.  Remember the tainted baby formula?  The lead paint on the toddler toys?  When they got busted for lead in children’s jewelry, they substituted cadmium.  Can you say “missing the point”?


Are there no American companies that make kiddy toys and jewelry?  There’s a chain store called American Apparel that only sells clothes made in the U.S.  I would happily patronize them, but their products are aimed at 15-24 year olds, and I left that demographic behind a long time ago.  Where’s the American Apparel store for grown-ups?  Where’s the American Kid store? 


Not that there’s no chance an American manufacturer would sell flimsy garbage and try to poison us.  I’m sure some would.  But with Chinese companies, it’s a built-in part of the business model, and they outright own our retail economy.  You can’t boycott Chinese products because there isn’t anything else.


Enjoy your chocolate, children.  It’s the healthiest thing you can get on Valentine’s Day.


36 thoughts on “Choosy Mothers Don’t Choose Chinese Crap

  1. “discount stuff store,”I would suggest that in general America does not want to pay for American goods – because they aren’t going to be cheap and discounted. In general, people are going to the discount stores, to walmart and to other places and they want to buy jeans that are $20 not $75 – but if you pay american labor costs and american health insurance costs, you can’t have discount goods, you can’t have your $20 pair of jeans made in America. so which is it america – cause you can’t have it both ways.

  2. One thing you can do is buy used as much as possible.  This supports local used stores such as Goodwill, Savers and Deseret Industries who provide local employment and keep dollars in the community.  Also, even if the goods are made in China or other countries with questionable labor, safety and environmental standards, at least the item gets an extended lifetime.  There is a great clothing company called No Sweat Apparel,   but  I learned moments ago, that they have had to close down their on-line catalog, although they are continuing wholesale and bulk operations.  Very sad.  I bought shirts, pants and sneakers from them.  Another possibility are  union-made goods, such as those offered at  I’ve also made a habit of when shopping and they ask me if I found everything I wanted, saying no, and I would have bought more from them had they offered options made in the US.  If you have time, asking to see the manager is a good plan. And when you do find US made goods, be effusive in your gratitude to the store and assure them you will shop there more if they continue to offer such options.  Appealing to the economic interest of retailers will expand options.

  3. When you find that American Kids store and that American made Adults store, please advise.I get pissed off every time I go to buy something.  And NO.  I’m not talking Wal Mart or the Dollar Store.

  4. Where can I find those “chocolate children”?   Probably in the Chinese chocolate children section of your local Wal-Mart.   At least we don’t drive Chinese cars (yet).

  5. Isn’t it frustrating?!?!  Lots of the candy out there is made in China, too.  I try to avoid it at all costs, but it’s nearly impossible without letting some slip through.  My 8 y.o. has been begging to get her ears pierced……but I really don’t want her walking around with cheap-o Claire’s earrings on her head.  When we are ready to let her do it, we’ll have to splurge for some real stuff, I guess.

  6. I hear you on this one, and as the responses show, it’s complicated, isn’t it? Bur yes, in general terms we would be better served to buy less crap, and not haul it to the landfill so quickly ,and if we thought about what we are paying for, and if union labor had a dose of business reality awareness, and transportation costs from across the globe were properly accounted….   But I’m as guilty as any, there are Chinese goods in this home too. Awareness is a good place to begin moving to the next step.

  7. Just chiming in to say Amen and Hallelujah!  I buy used or nearly new as much as possible.  Gifts are always, always, always books and art supplies.  My only regret is that there is not an independent book store close by.I confess to shopping at Lowes and Home Depot and I am sure all their stuff is imported from China but at least no one is eating it or wearing it. I patronize a small health food store for soaps and vitamins because they are nice people and know their stuff and I will pay the xtra for good customer service.   As spring arrives I will buy plants from the local nurseries.  It’s the least I can do.  I really am trying to make a smaller footprint.  Wow – that’s along response.  I guess I feel strongly about this.  Sheesh.

  8. I tried to have a China-free Christmas two years ago.  It was impossible.  Need lights?  Made in China.  Need toys?  Made in China.  Even many of the books (for gifts) were printed in China.  It is very frustrating.  Ironically, if you want “Made in USA” check out foreign-owned brands.  Many are made here.  And quite a few of those (but by no means all) of those are union-made.  So even if the profits are going abroad, at least you are supporting American workers/jobs here.  As an aside, I will not buy any food grown or processed in China.

  9. The Planet Green channel is running a series showing the conditions overseas that allow us to buy cheaply – it’s quite the eye opener.  Sadly, without American manufacturing jobs, we can’t afford to buy Made in America products, and the American companies themselves are as much to blame for this as anyone.  I don’t remember Mattel dropping the price of Barbie dolls when they moved their manufacturing base to China… do you ?  And when they got socked because their suppliers used unsafe materials, I thought it was poetic justice and hoped the recall costs canceled out the profits they made.

  10. An issue about as complex as any imaginable. If there were the ‘correct’ (72 million +/-) number of Chinese the playing-field would be more level. Simplicity is the key-word. I remember being told on my 7th birthday that I would be in “7th Heaven” when I opened my newspaper-wrapped gift: a rubber ball, made in Cleveland. I kicked it around on the lawn for three heavenly, dutiful years. For my 8th, I got a piece of string, and somehow found it amazing. (‘awesome’ -my trans-)  Sledge-hammer the TV, and our problems are solved.

  11. @PrimevalWench –  I can’t speak to Barbie, but look at the case of Levi jeans – I think if you take into account inflation, then you can go into walmart or kmart or target and buy a pair of Levi jeans for less money now then maybe 10 years ago. Certainly you can buy a DVD player for a lot less now than five years ago.I think the american consumer is responsible along with companies. Levi Strauss certainly tried to keep manufacturing in the US as long as they possibly could, but consumers were all about buying the cheapest, in general. Look at the rise of the discount store and the fall of the regular dept stores.Also add on to this the drive for profits, the power of the stock prices, the demands of stockholders for greater and greater profits.It is such a complex issue, but I hate to see it couched in protectionist/anti-China sentiment. The cadmium can’t be any good for the workers in China either.

  12. I have a lot of these same concerns and I don’t even have any kids yet! We have completely outsourced ourselves and I truly believe that’s a major part of the reason the economy is in the sorry state it’s in. We should be exporting our products and creating jobs, not exporting jobs to other nations and creating wealth for greedy corporations who pursue their bottom line by any nasty means necessary!

  13. I am going the opposite direction.  China is a big country that is exporting a ton of product.  There has been a few scandals and those scandals have been highlighted above other scandals.  China has dealt with that issue.  They actually execute people involved in fraud and cover-ups.   No product from any country is going to be perfect.Part of the reason we have so much is because we have imported product.  But currently that has led to a problem because our economy is dragging and we are starting to figure out that so much of our product is made in another part of the world, that we have exported jobs and therefore decreased the amount of jobs here.  We have stuff because we have opened up our country and yet we have a decrease in income because people in other countries are willing to work for less.That is not exactly a chinese problem.  That is an issue we are dealing with here.

  14. I swear, I’m terrified of everything my kids eat or play with anymore. Maybe I should change my name to Grace or Hope or something, move to the country, stop shaving my legs, and grow all our food. At least I’d know it was me killing them instead of a foreign corporation.

  15. Everything we eat or put on our skin (lotions, jewelry)  seems to have some kind of poison in it.  Hydronated oils, aspartame, MSG, lead it seems like there is no getting away.  Our country poisons us just as much as the others.  

  16. Nothing is made in america anymore because americans dont want to work in factories anymore.  They all want finance jobs pushing around imaginary values producing nothing.  Some impurites got into some chinese products. Americans started a global recession.  I think we’re even.  Hate to break it to you but pretty soon china will be the number one superpower regardless of what americans think. If we boycotted china they’d live. If they boycotted us we wouldn’t survive

  17. I agree with @TheTheologiansCafe – I had to read your post more than once to realize you were talking about cheap children’s jewelry (I was always allergic to it and never got any and I tend not to buy it for other people’s children). I was going to say that you are going to find trace amounts of cadmium in gold from all over the world b/c of the mining process and b/c it is found in gold mines and you have to go out of your way to find cadmium free gold (since I always buy hypo-allergenic I don’t think about it). I think it is sad that you can’t find anything that was made in the USA for a decent price.  Other countries ban imports from the United States that don’t meet their regulations (such as our food since we use genetically modified foods).  We shouldn’t have a problem doing the same thing to countries that don’t meet our regulations.  I understand that China is being affected by the recession just like the United States, but there is no reason for them to cut corners in order to make a profit but still keep manufacturing prices down.  Raise the price like everyone else would do.  People do not need so much cheap stuff.  They do have American Apparel Kids if you ever want to buy jewelry again.  As for stuff marketed for those of us that have left our 20s (but haven’t quite entered the geriatric stage) I haven’t found anything that sells stuff that was made in the USA.

  18. You are absolutely right that corruption is “a built-in part of the business model” in China. I lived there for many years, and it’s in every line of work, not just retail. As far as how it’s gotten into our own economy – that’s our own fault. If Americans were not the biggest consumers of Crap No One Needs other economies could dump endless trash into ours.

  19. I remember when my Dad and I went to Wal*Mart for cheap silverware, and walked away empty-handed because even the pricier stuff was made in China. I was convinced they were all toxic metals (and I was probably right) so we just didn’t get any. It’s really sad when saving money means sacrificing health — it’s even sadder when people are so inadequately informed by the manufacturer and/or seller of those items that they become innocent victims of attacks on their health.

  20. In my place, some stores were still selling beauty products-slash-make-up from China (though, it had been prohibited). It was disturbing because some chemicals Chinese people use in creating those products could actually harm the skin (and not in its entirety beautify them).  T__T

  21. @debbie – You’re absolutely right.  And until the American consumer realizes that by buying the cheapest product possible, they’re putting their neighbors (and eventually themselves) out of work, it’s only going to continue.  As for your example of Levi jeans… are the jeans manufactured overseas the same ones that were manufactured here when it comes to quality ?  No, they are not.  But we’re so fixated on brands, we don’t care.  It’s difficult to know where to begin fixing this problem.

  22. Meh.  I know damn well that I’m drinking my coffee from a cup I got from Wal-Fart (made in China, of course!), sitting at this computer, (made in China), and I just picked up my Family Dollar furniture polish (also made in China! What do you know!, but since I only use it at work, where my hours are being cut, I could care less about American made products).It’s more of a case of you’re just getting fucked either way you go–if your hours or job is cut, you don’t have the extra money to afford American made goods, thereby delaying this so-called “recovery”, which hurts the economy, and on and on.  If you DO have a job, you’re more likely to try and save a few $$$, so….cheaper goods if you really need them, or you’re doing without.I’ve put off buying another computer (to replace the faulty one I bought…) because of the economy.  Think of all the big-ticket items that aren’t being bought right now, the fact that NOTHING’S really MADE in America (more like manufactured and/or just sold), etc., and I really don’t see things getting better because there’s always someone that can do it better/cheaper/faster or use enslaved labor.  It’s the American Way, and we’ve just got to suck it up and take it.

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