Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cheap stuff OR a rich community life?

"We have the illusion of consumer freedom, but we've sacrificed our community life for the pleasure of purchasing lots of cheap stuff. Making and moving all that stuff can be so destructive: child labor in foreign lands, acid rain in the Northeast, depleted farmland...We often have the form of liberty, but not the substance." ~ Tod Murphey, as quoted in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

A friend recently told me that our embargo is not plausible in the real world. It's got to be large scale stuff or bust. China is not going to be stopped anytime soon, he said.

Tell me something can't be done and I'm only going to try harder. ;)

I disagree with my friend. If everyone thought that way - i.e. large scale or bust - nothing would ever get done. We ARE making a difference with our New Year's resolution. Now I'm sure our embargo hasn't made the front page in Beijing. Factories haven't shut down due to our efforts. And large boats crammed full of cheap, plastic goodies are still moving steadily towards the U.S. at remarkable speeds every day, I'm sure.

What's the point then? First of all, we're taking action by spreading the word. Do you realize how many emails Drew and I have sent in nine months? Customer representatives from Pottery Barn, Purina, Blurb.com, Victoria's Secret, Verizon, Gap, and a random eBay seller, to name a few, have heard about our embargo. We've told friends, family, and strangers. I believe that Drew and I plant a seed just by telling people about this crazy venture of ours. Maybe that random stranger will ask himself, "Do I really need this?" the next time he's getting ready to purchase a Chinese product (I know one of my friends has already done this a few times! Kudos Gaby!). Who knows?

Secondly, Drew and I are personally tweaking the way we live our life. I'm realizing that this "Why China?" thing is much bigger than I originally thought - it's a first step. When I think back to the quote at the top, it hits me like ten pairs of socks. "Poom, poom, poom...POOM!" Our decision to not buy from China is there in the quote (i.e. "cheap stuff"). But a not-so-subtle shift in how Drew and I think and buy has occurred - we've started thinking globally by buying locally (i.e. "community life"). So whether or not I'm officially boycotting China next year, I WILL be attempting to be a better member of my community, which in turn means buying locally, so it all comes full circle in the end anyway. Bye bye China.

So, friend, at the end of the day it's all about living life in accordance to what YOU think is important. After all, if I believe something is wrong, I must stand up for it. Even if I'm the only one. Or maybe I'm not...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday's trials

Two things happened to me yesterday. One I'm going to call a bittersweet event - for lack of a better word - and the other, an unfortunate occurrence.

You must know that since the day I got my first cell phone at sixteen or so, it's always been the freebie. One or two I remember fondly. My last one, however, was wallowing in anguish as the flippy part of this flip phone wasn't working very well (maybe if I hadn't dropped it so many times...). My contract was up and it was a decision between two phones - another freebie or the very cute $50. I didn't care where the freebie was made - heck, it's FREE, so Chinese-made is okay. I made the mistake of asking my mom, who has the earlier model, where the $50 phone was made.

"Mexico," (or some other, none m.i.c. location) she said confidently.

I had bothered Giedre several times to spill the location of her phone - she DOES have the same model I was interested in - but no luck. So I ordered the phone. It arrived yesterday, in all of its shiny, new phone glory. Charcoal and silver, with a flash of orange zest, this baby was purty! I decide to peruse the box (BAD idea!), curious where the baby was made (was it Mexico, Korea, or Taiwan? I think it was Taiwan), when I notice a tiny set of black words set against the brilliant white background - PHONE MADE IN CHINA.

It's starting to feel like this is the story of my life. Or at least my year... :D

Long story short, I ended up keeping the phone. Why, you may ask? Well, it would've cost me at least $40 to return the gadget. Darn those overpriced re-stocking fees! I couldn't stand to lose so much money over a stupid mistake. So the Chinese phone stays. And yes, I shelled $50 out to China. But if I had returned it, I would've had to fork over almost the same amount! Does that even make sense?

Drew and I have been doing our very best these past nine months to stay true to our resolution, even if it means walking back into the grocery store to return that $5 steel wool sponge (Drew) or facing sarcasm from a clerk because of the m.i.c. pact (unknown). But at the end of the day, we also have to be logical about this embargo and it does NOT make sense to pay almost the same amount for the privilege of returning a phone as it does to keep it. ARGH.

* * *

My unfortunate occurrence was a fall yesterday. And no just any 'ol fall, but the embarrassing, I-feel-like-I'm-five-years-old again sort. Drew and I had left for a run. I was animatedly talking to him about who-knows-what, when BAM! My right sneaker hits a piece of sidewalk that's rudely jutting up in front of me and I go flying. I have that split-second thought - while I'm flying - that I'm going to smash into pavement. Then I do.

So there I am, crying like a baby while blood streams down my elbow. I'm peering at my knee through watery eyes and see white. Drew sees it too. Running back to the apartment, he appears minutes later in his car and proceed to lug out the orange medical box (I say "medical box" because this sucker is way too large and stocked to be considered your ordinary first aid kit). Drew and I had both thought it was bone we were looking at, but thankfully, it turned out to be skin. Lots of skin. My oh-so-graceful fall apparently tore open several layers of skin right down to the spongy, bottom layer. Ugh.

I'm hoping you, dear reader, have a stronger stomach than I do. Once I was home, injured leg in the tub, I must admit I almost passed out. I was riding high on the waves of adrenaline - which causes numbness, nausea, and scanty hearing, and it is NOT fun. "Woozy" would be a very cute way to describe it and only accurate if the subject is an adorable, fuzzy puppy.

Please note the two subjects of this blog post below.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's it gonna be?

I'm wondering if I haven't hit a dead-end...

A week ago, I fried my camera's battery charger. To any other person, there is a simple solution: go to the store and buy a new charger. *sigh* But when I'm trying my darndest to avoid Chinese products, it gets a little trickier. No, scratch that. It becomes infinitely more difficult. I've tried Craig's List, Amazon, and eBay and the two brands that pop up are both m.i.c. I haven't found a single used charger yet either. When you can purchase a brand new one (good news: the new ones usually come with several tantalizing accessories as well!) for only $10, who in their right mind is going to sell a used one?

To a budding photographer, not having a battery charger is on par with Tupelo Honey's basket/bed being taken away from her. You don't think that's a good comparison? All right, Trix being deprived from human interaction for a month. Still no go? Okay, Drew getting cut off from all NFL games this season. ;)

I was telling Giedre about my dilemma and she asked skeptically, "So you're gonna wait til New Year's to buy a new charger?" Exactly - no, I'm not. So by hook or crook, I WILL figure this out. There has got to be an answer to this problem...or at least a charger.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010