Thursday, September 20, 2007

It hurts when I think this hard

I've been thinking alot about this boycott business. You know, boycotting all toys made in China. I've started looking into toys made in America and Europe and it's actually pretty easy to find some toys that are really cool. For a long time, I've avoided toys that light up, make noise, talk or race around the room. They have a name here...."battery suckers". The thing is, once the batteries run out on a toy, generally, I don't replace them. So then the toy just sits. And the kids move on to toys that don't take batteries. It's my belief that the toys (not all of them) that are free of "bells and whistles" are the best kind. Chances are, if a toy has a bell or a whistle, or any plastic whatsoever, it was probably made in China.

With Christmas just around the corner, I'm still struggling with this. I find myself justifying certain things. But here are things I struggle with:

I don't even have to look at some of the toys my kids want to see where they're made. I already know. It pains me to not get something they'd really like for Christmas/birthdays. They're so young to understand the idea of a boycott. The other day, Stephen told, "Mom, not EVERYthing is made in China!" I'm sure if he could roll his eyes, he would have.

I've had my eye on a bike for Stephen for Christmas for months....I looked on the website of the store I plan on getting it from and all it said was "imported". I really don't want to investigate further. So (wait for it, here comes the justifying) then I think, 'But it's not like he's going to be sucking on the bike!'

Boycotting toys made in China also means boycotting most toys carried by Sweet Hubby's company. It's almost like a conflict of interest. He really wants us to do as much of our Christmas shopping as possible not only with his company, but at his store.

Toys made outside of China are not cheap. And it's harder to find them in a store, which means we'll also be paying shipping.

Most toys made in China are not toys that my kids would recognize off the bat, so I worry that come Christmas morning or the birthday party, they won't be excited about their gifts. Certainly, they'll have time to get excited once they get a chance to play with a toy, but if they have no idea what it is, will they care when they open it? Will they be disappointed?

I'm not sure how to handle gifts from family and friends. I'd hate for the kids to get really excited about something only to have me tell them when we get home from the family Christmas that they can't play with it or it has to go back to the store. I know my mom is trying to seek out American made toys, but I'm not sure who else is putting any thought into it.

During all this, I've realized that I need to pinpoint exactly what it is I'm boycotting. I know definitively that I am boycotting ALL toys that pose a health risk to my children because of the way or where they are made. Lead is harmful when ingested. So all toys that might get sucked on or chewed on can not be made in China. That cuts a lot of toys out. But how far am I willing to take this? Am I willing to buy toys that are made in China (bikes and larger toys) that the baby won't play with and I know the boys won't try to eat? Do I want to make it even broader by boycotting the companies that aren't taking the appropriate measures to keep our kids safe? Or even further than that by boycotting ALL products made in a particular region just to make a statement?

As an aside, here are a couple websites I've found with some really cool toys made in America. Willow Tree Toys...check out the page labeled "Toys Made in America and Europe". They carry toys made in other countries, but claim all the products must meet their "stringent safety standards". There are some neat dress up clothes on their site for boys and girls (I'm thinking seriously about the sword and shield). And Imagiplay has some great toys as well that also say they are environmentally safe.

I know I'm not the only putting this much thought in to all this...what are you all thinking? With Christmas coming up, are you planning your shopping (for your kids, other people's kids, or your entire shopping list) just like usual or are you hesitating, maybe coming up with alternatives? What are your thoughts?


Kelli in the Mirror said...

I'm really struggling with this too. Gillian has very recently gotten interested in Barbies and pretty much wants nothing else right now. I have not found one single 'character' toy, (barbie, dora, whatever) that isn't made in China.

And she's four, and I HAVE caught her chewing on her Barbie's feet.

It's really hard to balance getting them the stuff that interests them right now, versus what's good for them in the long run. But you're right- I could envision a Christmas that could be very sticky, especially since other family members tend to think we're the paranoid crazy branch anyway.

I don't know what to do either- but I'm with you. Did you see Oriental Trading Company just recalled some bracelets that were 97% lead? I buy crafts from there to do with my daycare. It makes me sick.

Kelli in the Mirror said...

Okay, I've been back here four or five times to see what other people are saying. Where are the other people? :)

Alli said...

LOL, that's what I was thinking!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Ok, I think just like you. But I am definitely trying to look at gift buying (especially for my children) quite realisitically. They don't NEED any more toys, and are perfectly happy with the 1st gift they open, so why do they need 8 or 9 gifts? I am encouraging everyone to scale back- and I'll do the same. It will benefit us financially as well as not succumbing to too much excess, because our playroom is overflowing ...

And by the way- the toys that we will buy, I am researching. So, it still may be made in China (like Melissa & Doug items, etc.) but I am googling to see if it's been lead tested, etc BUT I will do my BEST to not buy "made in China" at all.