Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shopping Responsibly No Easy Task

Shopping list - Bottle/Thermos washer, blankets, large toaster oven, glass storage containers, tissue, vitamins, broom. Appears to be a pretty straightforward list. A time starved person could purchase all of these items at Target or a similar retailer, right? Wrong. A time starved person who is carefully scrutinizing her purchases will probably bepretty frustrated, if she is looking for BPA free plastic, organic materials and products made somewhere other than China. I started with the blankets, thinking that Target, which promotes it's sustainability initiatives and has some organic products online, would at least have a small selection in stores. Well, most were either non-organic cotton or micro polyfiber and were made in China. I looked around in frustration and confusion for about ten minutes, then left, figuring I would check out a retailer next door. Then I looked for a bottle washer for my difficult to clean thermos. I have been getting disposable cups all week, because my thermos has been difficult to clean thoroughly and I haven't had the heart to throw most of them (cups) away (a local coffeehouse recycles these). Anyway, there were a myriad of dish washing implements, but only one lonely item that looked like it could take on the bottom of my thermos. Then there was the issue of BPA, so what to do? I weighed the advantages and disadvantages and purchased it anyway, figuring I would use cold water when scrubbing. Guess where it was made? You got it! China. Next. Glass storage containers. After looking in the storage container aisle, with no success in finding glass, I finally found glass containers in the cookware section. I was pretty pleased with the exception that the lids were all plastic. Toaster Oven -found one that didn't have any kind of teflon interior, but couldn't get around the made in China issue. It was pretty surreal, almost everything was made in China! No wonder we have so many people out of work in this country. What are we doing to ourselves?! What are we doing to China? I know it's economy is booming (or was until recently) but I always have images of women and children toiling away in unsafe conditions, making these products for a $1 a month. I was encouraged to see a selection of soy candles and natural cleaners, but couldn't find recycled tissue paper products. I eventually ran out of time and decided to get my vitamins from Whole Foods during my next shopping trip there. Lessons learned:

  • We have sold our souls to China and for what? Cheap stuff. What cost? Jobs, our planet.
  • It takes time and careful planning to be a conscious shopper
  • You save money buying consciously, because shopping just becomes exhausting physically and emotionally
  • We need to speak up and ask for the products we want
  • Retailers are slowly acknowledging the demand for safe products, but need a push

How do you shop consciously? I would love to promote any websites that make shopping for safe products a simple experience.

1 comment:

ElleX said...

I agree with you on the difficulty in being able to find products made in the USA. Its really impossible to find a product that is totally made in the USA.