Can you keep a China-free home? The challenges of buying American: Part 1

Can you keep a China-free home? The challenges of buying American: Part 1

About a month ago my husband and I were discussing something or other when we stumbled across a major revelation:

“I hate bed skirts,” he said.

To me, someone who has had bed skirts and used them to hide storage bins under the bed for pretty much her entire life, this came as quite a shock. Especially since I had never known about this for all the time we’d been living together.

Therefore, not wanting my husband to “hate” any part of his home life, I started searching around for a better solution that would rid our bedroom of the dreaded bed skirt, yet still keep us from surrendering the area under the bed to wasted space.

Eventually, we came up with a pretty nifty solution from Pottery Barn – they made a nice looking bed frame with built-in drawers. But I tend to be someone who looks around thoroughly before I jump in and buy something big, so I started digging further, searching Google for other potential options. That’s when I discovered the Ultimate Bed.

Despite the somewhat dated website, we were in love. All those drawers, solid wood, rave reviews!

And MADE IN AMERICA.

Not just in America, but local to us too, in a warehouse it turned out was about an hour away from us. So we hopped in the car, drove up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, had a look at their humble showroom, met the owners, and had the chance to chat in person. Right before we left, the owner dropped a bit of a bomb on me:

“We tried to sell our beds through Pottery Barn, but they won’t accept anything American made. They only sell items from China.”

WHAT?!

It’s not that I’m a Pottery Barn addict or anything – on the contrary, I don’t know that I’ve ever purchased anything from them. It’s just that this concept shocked me. Why on earth would an American company have a policy like that?

I found this pretty infuriating, but it really got me thinking…what would it take to consciously keep your home China-free?

While I can’t say for certain, because I haven’t come close to mastering this yet, I’m going to go with the answer “a lot.” I might even bump that to “almost impossible,” because being aware of where the stuff in your home comes from is not always a straightforward practice. Sometimes it’s labeled on the box or the website, but more often it’s not. There was a time when it was thought you could determine a product’s origin from its barcode, but that was proven to be misleading as well. Unfortunately, it seems the powers that be work very hard to keep the general public in the dark about things like this.

Still, even when it’s glaringly obvious that something wasn’t created here, how easy is it to refrain? I’m far from innocent myself….I’m absolutely guilty of Target “shiny object” moments and I have a Subaru Outback snuggled up in my garage (in my defense on that one, she joined this family at the time simply on the consistent and wide array of top-rated safety features that Outbacks have always offered, ideal for the backroads of Wisconsin).

Not to mention, even when you try to support local companies, sometimes you still can’t win. Here in Wisconsin, it's glaringly obvious that local Menard’s and Fleet Farm are carrying more and more from China – a set of screws you buy that keep snapping in half (defeating the screw’s entire reason for existence) or light bulbs that you screw in that won’t light up – and it really saddens my family that our community is coming to this.

Yet, even creepier is the idea of food coming from China.

Creepy because one, we live in America, land of farmers and “amber waves of grain.” Seriously?! How much are we consuming that we need to import our food from China, a massively overpopulated country who can’t even feed their own people?

But second, and more alarming, is the quality of the food coming from overseas. The lower food quality standards are becoming more and more common knowledge, with article after article after article after article outlining the hazards and Chinese imported food increasingly reported to be fake/toxic/contaminated/etc.

And don’t even get me started on the fossil fuels/environmental absurdity of shipping food over from China. It’s something I can’t begin to wrap my brain around.

For us, at least it feels great knowing that we took advantage of the opportunity this time to buy American, and we’re incredibly happy we did. Our bed frame came out beautifully and was verified by my exceptionally handy husband to be a solid construction made of true quality materials (no plastic-coated particle board here!).

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Now I find myself thinking, “how can I make a better effort to actively buy American?”

I’m going to talk more on this subject next week, but for now, I’d love to hear some of your own recommendations.

How do you keep your home American-made and grown?

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