this film on working conditions in chinese toy factories solidifies our decision to buy ramona only toys that have been either made in the usa or made by hand by skilled craftspeople. we had already been conscientious of what toys–and what quantity–we would have in our home due to the limited space and our desired aesthetic, and this further inspires me to choose carefully, buy selectively (even if often more expensively), make thoughtfully, and pare down. we’ve found that the toys we’ve carefully chosen for her have far exceeded “made in china” toys in quality, usefulness, stimulation, education, and beauty.
we cannot control what others give to ramona, and we hope to instill thankfulness in her by accepting them graciously. and we will certainly let her play with toys made in china that may be given to her and will gauge her interest (plastic webbed balls, FTW) but–on top of doing whatever small part we can do to not perpetuate human rights violations–we find mass produced toys typically to be distracting, unnecessarily complicated, and, well, cheap.
as the store manager says in the film: “there’s a link between the price you pay and what you get.”
i don’t post this to say that jp and i are perfect consumers. ramona has toys made by machines, we shop at ikea, and have bought clothes at gap. many of my photos on this blog were taken with my iPhone. apple’s factory in shenzhen that produces the iPhone was scrutinized and criticized after a high number of suicides occurred in a short amount of time. i read about it in this article in wired magazine. i don’t believe i would be able to find infallible justification for my possession of goods made by workers halfway around the world that don’t have access to the same rules and regulations and opportunities that work forces in the usa must abide by. but the author certainly seems to give an honest and thoughtful lens on this whole issue of production and consumption and the haves and have-nots. please read.
Oh wow! Yikes! It’s so hard…like you said you really can’t escape products that potentially have a shadowed past. Sometimes I feel hypocritical because we try to be so careful about our food sources, eat a nearly vegan diet, we compost, etc. But then I buy clothes at Banana Republic, shop at IKEA, etc. There are so many social causes to fight for, you can’t do it all. But it sounds like you have a similar outlook, do the best you can and at least try to inform yourself and be aware.
so sad. we have similar views on toys, but most of our decisions are based on health and the environment. i don’t think about human rights as much as i should. lately, i’ve been slipping a little and bending my own rules. this is definitely a new source of motivation to shop consciously.
Did you by any chance hear the This American Life from Jan 8th? Its called “Mr. Daisey and the Apple factory” and I think you’d appreciate it very much. You can listen here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/454/mr-daisey-and-the-apple-factory