There may be something more dangerous than coal in some children’s stockings this holiday season.
About 175,000 Curious George Plush Dolls were recalled for containing deadly levels of lead, another in a massive trend of recalled Chinese-manufactured goods.
In March, contaminated dog and cat food led to nationwide panic as pets began to suffer from a mysterious ailment, many eventually dying due to complications from the sickness. It was later discovered that the culprit was contaminated wheat gluten from a Chinese pet food manufacturer; as it turns out, the tainted products had been shipped all over the world from Europe to South America.
Yet, food impurities are not the only risk. In August, Mattel had to recall Dora the Explorer, Elmo, and Big Bird toys because of high levels of lead in the paint.
A month prior, Hasbro recalled over one million Easy-Bake Ovens because of a flaw allowing children to slip their hands into the oven as it cooked.
A generic brand of toothpaste-frequently distributed to European hotels-was also recalled.
These events are a wake up call to American consumers. We need to be more diligent in knowing precisely where our goods are produced to ensure that regulatory standards are being upheld.
We take it for granted that the U.S. is generally efficient in keeping out defective goods, yet this past year has revealed that harmful items will slip through the cracks.
We, as a nation and global community, need to seriously reevaluate our trade relationship with China. They’re reaping in cash, and we get poisoned products-inexpensive poison products, though.
The issue is how to pressure China to not only change their ways, but to remain loyal to regulations, improving their standards about cleanliness and monitoring what goes in the items they export.
The most obvious answer, and one that relies on action by the consumer, is boycotting Chinese-made goods; but this solution has serious issues.
Cost is a factor, Chinese produced goods are usually cheaper than their American or European counterparts, and many Americans would be unable to participate on that level.
Plus, the sheer inconvenience is daunting. What isn’t made in China?
Louisiana resident Sara Bongiorni attempted to live without purchasing Chinese goods two years ago, and even convinced her husband to do the same. Her attempt was publicized all over the news, and she published a novel this year chronicling her pursuit.
In an article from the Christian Science Monitor, she recounts spending $60 on Italian shoes for her son and another $60 for Texan shoes for her toddler daughter.
Her husband couldn’t fix a broken drawer because the tools he needed were made in China.
Their blender broke, and they remained smoothie-less throughout the summer.
They relied on lethal mouse traps since the catch-and-release variety were, again, made in China.
Birthday parties and Christmas were impossible. The only reliable toy they could buy was Danish-made Legos.
If this anecdote doesn’t convince you, scour your home or dorm for anything not made in China.
Maybe a couple books published in England or a shirt manufactured in Bangladesh, but otherwise you’re sure to be overwhelmed by “Made in China.”
Dependency on anything or anyone is impractical, and, in this case, even dangerous.
American consumers must push for better standards on China’s part, and we need to be more aware of where it is we buy from.