I recently posted this on various social media platforms:
I have a new buying habit. If the item says “Made in China”, it stays on the shelf. Yes, I’m willing to pay more for something made elsewhere. If that means using less of it to compensate for the cost, that’s what I will do unless it is not possible. I am responsible for each and every choice I make. If you want to stop supporting the Chinese Communist Party, discipline yourself in what you consume.
Here are some of the replies I’ve received:
- “While I commend you for this, and totally agree, it’ll be very hard to accomplish”
“You have a hell of a task in front of you. Try finding a ceiling light for example that isn’t made in China”
“Spot on. I am with you”
So mixed and understandable reactions. Indeed, most western countries are so economically intertwined with China that consumers are dealing with limited choices regarding the sources of products.
I live in Canada. Like other places, the label “Made in China” is ubiquitous. As a consumer, I have enjoyed the lower prices this label has come to represent on everything from electronics to food. It is so widespread and deeply embedded in our economy that, as mentioned, even buying something as mundane as a light bulb from a domestic manufacturer is challenging.
This situation has evolved over a long period of time, driven primarily by the cost difference in manufacturing and importing as opposed to making things in the home nation. There are many reasons for the cost differences such as lower wages and safety standards in China along with higher versions of the same plus high tax rates here. So over time, many companies relocated their operations to China in order to remain competitive.
We consumers didn’t really know all this. We were merely living our lives and looking for the lowest priced goods as we all face limitations with regard to cash flow. But now that we know China to be the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. That, combined with the standard obfuscations by the Chinese Communist Party, along with the various human rights abuses it commits regularly, tells me that we need to rethink our relationship with China.
So what is a lowly consumer to do? Hence my resolution to “have a new buying habit”.
One of the first places to start is with food. I went to a grocery store the other day and looked at the labels of each item. If it was made in a non-Chinese country, even if it cost more, I bought it. Interestingly some of the items simply said: “Imported for……” (I’m not naming the store yet). So I wanted to find out where these items came from.
I went to the website and found this : “We are currently working diligently to put the country of origin on all products, but in the interim please contact our Customer Care Centre with the UPC and they will be more than happy to provide the country of origin.” Well now, that is great, right? So I emailed them on May 17 and asked about a particularly mundane item, coleslaw. I further added this, “My concern is related to imports from China. Is it possible to provide me with a list of all products imported from China?” I received an auto-reply saying they would back to me in 2 business days. We shall see.
I further emailed one of their competitors to see what happens as I want to compare the differences in their responses. Most importantly, I want to get those lists so I can make informed buying decisions when I shop.
As a consumer, the only power I have is what I choose to buy. I do not want to be supporting a murderous, totalitarian regime so I need to know what products are originating from it.
There will be more to say in coming posts about this effort as I will be following up with the companies involved.