I was aghast while reading a recent article in the New York Times that included continued revelations regarding poor manufacturing standards in China. The latest string of toy recalls, this time through Mattel, is alarming to those of us who have children, and perhaps this it is a wake up call to reconsider many of our consumer habits. This is especially true for those of us who want to avoid having our children ingest lead . This must be what we reap as a result of our incessant demand for cheap products that are outsourced and sub-contracted out half way across the world.
For me, many of the startling images of mass industrialization and environmental degradation from the film "Manufactured Landscapes" are embedded permanently in my mind. I think of them every time now that I see the ubiquitous "made in China label" on many products, and I have been contemplating for some time an appropriate personal response to these issues.
Though rather than simply just laying blame elsewhere, we in the West must also take responsibility for a great deal of this. In many ways we have given up on being attached to any meaningful forms of production, and have sold our soul to the lowest bidder overseas. This makes it all too easy avoid responsibility, as witnessed in Mattel's press release regarding this massive recall, where CEO Robert A. Eckert responded by stating that ""No system is perfect".
I can only hope that these revelations may cause many of us understand more fully the consequences of the globalized economy, and perhaps compel us to demand more localized and potentially safer choices. As for me, I am now determined more than ever to both discover and promote any company that produces locally, or at the very least in North America, where we have some capacity to influence both safety and environmental standards. I owe this to my children, in more ways that one.
(Note: To get a full appreciation of the scope of this massive recall, here is a link from the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission)