Day 168

June 16th, 2016

Good enough is good.


Outfit: Pink and orange dress worn under black dress worn forward. Skinny tan belt, tan wedges, chandelier earrings, re-purposed glass bracelet from an England artisan market (SIL gift!)


Ok, so now that I have only 12 days left, may be a good time to start giving some more practical solutions to this whole becoming fashion sustainable dilemma. I try to remember (like the article yesterday on Eileen Fisher), that we cannot be perfect 100% of the time. Especially when some of the choices are out of our control, like country of origin or availability where you live. However, I tend to approach this like I’ve approached healthy eating, organic food, and even parenting.

The Good Enough Principle as some call it, is exactly what it says. We cannot achieve perfection, so we need to be OK with an outcome that is sometimes short of that. I’m not advocating that we don’t try hard, or that we simply give up, but there are times that we just can’t do anything more than our best, and that’s enough. Good enough. strive-for-progress

When it comes to becoming a good steward of our resources by aspiring to make things sustainable, it can seem like an uphill battle. Small conscious steps are better than none, and eventually they become the norm which help us to make more permanent larger changes.

Start for instance, with hanging your laundry once a week. Or try going shopping at a thrift store instead of the mall. How about buying the better made shirt instead of the cheapy one? Look at labels, choose better fabrics. Try buying online if what you need is not available in your city. And finally, start asking questions, especially from the stores you shop at. The more we ask, suggest, expect, the more chances they will listen. After all, you are the customer and they want to keep you.

 

Day 147

May 26th, 2016

Ethically sourced


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, tan summer blazer, scarf worn as tie, gold earrings from 10,000 villages (fair trade). 


One of the alternatives to having garments made in Canada is to have them made in factories that meet the standards we would expect from our own factories. This means to take the responsibility to find the factory, build the relationship with the owners and personally ensure that all conditions are up to par.

This is referred to as responsibly sourced or ethically sourced. It is similar to the fair trade certification except that so far (to the best of my knowledge) there is no organized standard that gives that official recognition. B corporations are one form of it, but they are not necessarily just for clothing, so a garment fair trade or ethically sourced certification is still to come.

Nonetheless, there are still many ways a manufacturer or designer can ensure that their product is made without breaking human rights standards. One of the steps some sustainable brands are taking to ensure ethical standards is to source out smaller factories in low-wage countries that are independently owned and to form personal relationships with the owners. Some actually travel to the site and get to know the workers and the owners and personally asses that the conditions are actually as safe as they say. Another way to prevent mistreatment, is to not demand unreasonable deadlines and to pay a higher cost per unit, which in turn would translate into a better profit for the factory and a ‘living wage’ for the worker. Sometimes the cost per unit increase is so minimal that the translated cost to consumer may only increase by 10%. Definitely worth the investment.

This is one of those new values I was talking about in my previous post. If we consider having our clothes made in a way that respects the worker and his or her environment, then we won’t mind paying them a wage that is higher than the minimum required by law. Most of the time the minimum wage of a country does not reflect the true cost of living, therefore a ‘living wage’ is a better indicator of what would be fair compensation for work done. According to Clean Clothes Campaign, an organization that is dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries, a living wage can be defined as follows:

The right to a living wage: A living wage should be earned  in a standard working week (no more than 48 hours) and allow a garment worker to be able to buy food for herself and her family, pay the rent, pay for healthcare, clothing, transportation and education and have a small amount of savings for when something unexpected happens.

There are many companies starting to take this approach and one of the best ways to find them is by looking online. I will post some examples in the next few days and give you some links to visit them.

 

Day 143

May 22nd, 2016

As read in an article from adweek.com: Can eco-friendly startups shift industry values?


Outfit: Black and white sleeveless dress with swril print. Black dress worn as jacket, black wedge boots.


The following article was sent to me a few days before my post from yesterday. I find it amazing when I read something that simply re-enforces what I’ve been discerning and commenting on.

I had heard of the brand they refer to, Reformation , a company from California that re-purposes fabric ends from companies who ordered too much or the wrong thing. What a great way to be less wasteful! That’s not all they do though, they are completely transparent in their mission and everything they do is with sustainability in mind. The best part of it is that their clothes don’t look like sacks of potatoes, they are truly beautiful. What an amazing brand! They are not the only ones out there, and though they are a bit more expensive than what we may be used to, the price is meant to inspire you to place that value on something greater than looks.

I recommend clicking on the links they provide about ‘doing things that don’t scale’ that one talks about an online company, Everlane, that provides customers with three sale prices to choose from, each outlines how much of the costs of the company it will cover and gives the customer a different type of decision to make based on ethics.

http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/fashion-brands-long-focused-excess-are-finally-waking-sustainability-171609

P1110204
Just in case you wondered what my outfit looked like.

 

Day 142

May 21st, 2016

Not all hope lost for independent Canadian design and manufacture.


Outfit: Stripped high-low dress worn under black dress. Belted with grey skinny belt. Watermelon wedge sandals.


I believe right now I think we are at a turning point. Either we completely get rid of all manufacture and give up that industry to be fully dependent on other countries for a commodity that is a basic need or we reinvent the way we’ve been doing things and start to adopt a new standard.

What do I mean by all of that?  Well, if having garments made in Canada is going to be so brutally difficult that it makes is impossible to for independent designers to produce their lines here, then we may have to simply give up the idea of having a manufacturing sector all together. This is not too far from reality already, as I’ve outlined in my previous blogs. Some people say this is just the way things need to go, that it is part of progress, to move from a developing society to a manufacturing one, to a one that only deals in research and development or other higher end jobs. But here’s what I don’t understand -and I am no economist, trust me, so it is not surprising that this goes a bit over my head- how is it, in a country’s best interest to completely annihilate a whole sector that would provide a basic need (such as clothing)? What happens if nobody in that country is trained to do such a job and suddenly tariffs change or politics get involved and we lose all suppliers of such goods? I know this sounds a bit apocalyptic, but it has happened before! Just ask a veteran about the clothing restrictions during World War II. The difference now is that most people can’t make their own clothing. I’ve been told that I’d be in high demand during a zombie apocalypse because I can sew clothing and cut hair –I’m set.

So if we do not want to completely deplete our society of design and creative innovators, but we cannot compete with the low-wage countries prices, then how do we keep this industry going? Well, it comes down to uniqueness. A few years ago, I read a study prepared by Richter Consulting for the the government of Canada in 2004, called “The Canadian Apparel Industry: The shape of the future”, it outlines the changes happening at the time in importing and tariffs, in it the writers predict a serious decline in the manufacturing sector if everyone ran to the orient based only on price advantages. It is almost eerie to read such a paper 12 years later and see just how accurate they were.

However, one of the points they raised on how Canadian designers could stay ahead, was to provide products with innovation (pg 40). This translates into amazing design features, new technical advances in design or fabrication, and uniqueness. The forum encouraged designers to be outside the box thinkers, to provide the public with pieces that were independent by design or function. This kind of thinking correlates with the sustainability model, where a new type of value is placed on the product other than the lowest price. Value in this case is placed on longevity due to quality of construction and fabric, or value placed on investing in pieces that are friendly to the environment, or value based on knowing that investing in such pieces contribute on a larger scale towards the local economy.

So as consumers we need to realize that the cost of making clothing is not reflective of the actual value of it. Once the consumer changes its own view on what value is, then we can begin to have a new standard of across the board. Only then will it be ‘fair’ for those who are trying to compete in a market that has brought everything down to the bottom dollar. But we will not be competing with the bottom feeders of the industry because our product will be set at a different standard, a standard that upholds values that cannot be measured by price alone.

Day 141

May 20th, 2016

Why is Manufacturing in Canada almost non-existent, part 2: We’ve hit a wall.


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, denim mandarin collar dress, light tan wrap around skinny belt (wow I’ve gotten lots of wear out of this one!) brown and green heels, green drop earrings.


Yesterday we talked about how nearly all of the fabric in Canada now needs to be imported. And how technical design skilled work force is few and far between. In order to get a garment made here we need those two things first, once we managed that, we go to a manufacturer to see if we can produce it.

The first problem is the cost. You have to remember that sewing is a labour intensive process, therefore the bulk of the cost of a garment is due to the time it takes to sew. If you want to pay your workers at least minimum wage, in Canada that is $10.25/hr. So you want to make a shirt and immediately your sewing cost minimum $10.25. Let me break down a very basic manufacturing cost of a simple blouse for you:

Item Cost/unit Unit Total  
Fabric  $     4.00 1.5  $     6.00
Labour  $   10.25 2  $   20.50
Notions/ Misc  $     0.50 1  $     0.50
 $   27.00

 

I am using 2 hours for CMT (Cut, manufacture and trim) to show a blouse of medium difficulty. Simpler styles would take less time.

So if it costs $27 to simply make, then your basic mark up to wholesale would be double that, $54. In turn, a retailer would need to double that to make a profit, which makes it a very basic $108-dollar blouse.

Let’s pretend for a minute that you’re ok with the price and that your potential customers are not balking at the fact that a very similar blouse is selling at the mall for only $40. Now you have to find some one to want to make it. This is the harshest part of the reality check. No body will touch your sample. Why? Because it’s too expensive to produce. The majority of manufacturers especially in western Canada, are choosing to sew basic, run of the mill uniform-like t shirts and/or casual wear. Mostly knits, because they require fewer operations on the flat bed (straight sewing stitch) and more sergeing which is a finishing seam all in one. There is nothing wrong with a serged seam, but the problem here is that we are no longer producing tailored or structured garments, they are very rare or very expensive. And so, your choices are very limited. If you do find someone to take it, you probably have to up your minimums to make it worth for them to do.

The other down fall of not making as many structured garments is that our local labour force is not being trained to make these more difficult operations well. So we are loosing the skill. In addition, it may not be worth it for the factories here to invest in new equipment which leaves them with outdated machines that may not do the jobs as efficiently as some of the more advanced specialized machines used in bigger factories. The bottom line here, is that believe it or not, the quality of a garment made in China may be higher than one made here. They have the work force.

What can I say? I just went through all of this with one of my clients, I’m not making up stuff here. It makes me almost want to cry. Mainly because I feel that the fact that we are squeezing out local manufacture actually is doing more than simply eliminating blue collar jobs. It is killing innovation. I read about this not too long ago (can’t remember or find where or I would quote it) and it makes sense to me. The fact that we don’t have the ability to create and follow the process up close, will eventually trump this generation’s ability to bring their ideas into reality. It is a very sad situation which I don’t know how to improve. But there you have it: it is almost impossible to have Made in Canada.

 

Day 140

May 19th, 2016

Why is Manufacture in Canada almost non-existent?


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, black blouson style blouse, favourite Miz Mooz boots, long strand beaded necklace, green drop earrings.


The truth about the garment manufacture in Canada may be very hard to swallow. Most people recognize that there isn’t much being made here anymore and we’ve come to terms with that simply because it seems to b everywhere you go.

What most of us may not realize though, is how hard it actually is for someone wanting to manufacture close to home.

In the slow food movement you are encouraged to source ingredients that grow close to where you live. How on earth are we supposed to do that in slow fashion, when not much is being made close to us? Start with fabric (not even going to bother with fibre growing or raising of flocks), even though Canada used to have lots of mills that made fabric up until the mid 90s, most of those are gone. The same goes for the mills in the US, if you wanted to buy from thy neighbour, it would be extremely hard now. Most of the fabric manufacture is now done overseas, with China producing almost 60% (2010) of the world’s total and 69% of polyester fibres globally.

Right of the bat, even if you get the fabric from a Canadian company, the product is imported. OK, no worries, that’s fine. We can’t all make the same stuff right? We then move on to design and production. Finding competent pattern drafters and sample makers is proving increasingly difficult, but not impossible; definitely something that you’ll find more of in large centres like Vancouver.

So let’s say you got your fabric lined up, you have a sample and graded pattern ready to go, then what? Now you’re ready to have it sewn, but because you are a small start up you don ‘t want huge numbers. Here is where we hit a huge wall. But I’m going to leave you hanging because I don’t want to make the post too long. For a close look to the actual cost of manufacturing in Canada, check tomorrow’s post.

Day 132

May 11th, 2016

Slow Fashion moves in Vancouver


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards over summer dress. Brown belt, watermelon wedge sandals.


The following article came upon my feed a few days ago. It is so absolutely pertinent to what I’m trying to communicate through this blog, that I will let you read and then we’ll explore more in the following days.

Vancouver entrepreneurs buckle up to tackle slow fashion challenge

Make sure to click on the videos, especially the one about Nicole Bridger. I love the part when she talks about not feeding into trends, but finding your own style…have I not been saying that this whole time? Great minds think alike!

 


 

Day 115

April 24th, 2016

Happy Fashion Revolution Week, April 18-24, 2016: Who made my clothes?


Outfit: Black dress worn backwards under multi-colour dress worn as tunic. Watermelon sandals, drop orange earrings.


Today marks the final day in Fashion Revolution week which started on the 18th of April.

What is Fashion Revolution? It is a call to action to get involved in asking more questions from your clothing manufacturers. The movement started in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, where more than 1100 garment workers died when the factory they were working at collapsed due to building code violations. These workers had been threatened with losing their jobs if they did not show up for work that day, even though inspectors had deemed the building unsafe the day before. The owners of the factory are now being prosecuted for manslaughter and await trial. However, the question remains, what is pushing factory owners like these to ignore warnings and safety codes? Could it be the fact that the brands placing the orders are pushing their limits by demanding unreasonable deadlines? And penalizing late deliveries with cancelling orders in some cases?

The responsibility for the garment workers’ rights falls on many hands and for the consumer to expect the corporations to take full blame is too naïve. We need to start demanding more transparency in the supply chain, and that’s something Fashion Revolution is trying to do. It may not be a perfect method, but it is something. At least it starts the conversation.

P1110093To get involved or to support, you take a picture wearing your clothing inside out showing its label and send it to the brand, asking who made your clothes? Then you post it on social media. For more information on the movement and ideas of how to get involved, check out their website here.

Facebook page

Day 99

April 8th, 2016

What is Cost per wear?


Outfit: Black dress worn forward, brown high boots, soft ruffle tan cardigan, hand knit infinity scarf.


Cost per wear is the amount of times you’d be able to wear a garment before it fell apart/went out of style/you stopped liking it. Considering that cheap fashion is generally disposable, or ill-fitting, those ‘great deals’ end up in the pile that never gets worn so their cost per wear is often the price tag! The calculation for cost per wear varies but a very basic one is as follows:

#of times item will be worn ÷ by cost of garment= cost per wear

You can calculate the number of times you anticipate wearing something by weeks, months or years you’ll keep the item. Either way, you divide that amount by the cost of the garment and that gives you the CPW.

Fashion sustainability supporters use the cost per wear formula as a guideline for buying investment pieces. It is a better way to evaluate whether or not an item is in fact ‘so expensive!’, which is the most common response I get when I encourage people to buy outside ‘the box’.

For some great insights on what it is like to purchase something with cost per wear in mind, read this article by Chris Gayomali  of GQ magazine.

Or for a different approach and great examples, see this link by Zady.

 

 

Day 82

March 22nd, 2016

Outfit: Black dress worn under wrap skirt. Black chunky boots, pink scarf-like necklace.

Why on earth am I doing this?

I want to take the opportunity today to remind you of the reasons I’m doing this crazy thing!

First of all, because I love craftsmanship in fashion and beautifully made things that make you feel good.  After all, it is a basic human characteristic, we love to adorn ourselves. Some more than others, but we all have that innate need to stand out. And it saddens me that the stuff available to us is not beautifully made. Secondly, I have a soft spot for righteousness, social justice and feeling good about things being fair. And last but not least, I have a nagging growing guilt about the kind of world I’m leaving for my kid’s kids to deal with.

But in addition, this project is also a fundraiser. So far, I am so very grateful for the donations I’ve gotten in support of my cause. I truly believe that every little bit counts and no matter what I’m ahead of the game. That being said, I would love to take this effort to the end goal and raise the full amount I’m hoping for. $5000 is a lot of cash and it would go a long way in helping those that I’m hoping to help.

I am donating to the Masterpiece Campaign for my children’s school St. Joseph Elementary, because the sad reality is that we desperately need a new building. For years we’ve managed with the buildings the way they are (some of them around eighty years old), and have thrived in the knowledge that it is what’s inside that counts. Our teachers are great, our families are great and our community is great. I remind my children that we have so much to be grateful for and that an old building not the end of the world. Old is different than decrepit and unfortunately one of our buildings is close to being that. So after a very long process, we finally have a plan in place and the only thing left is to raise the money. No small feat eh? Great news is that we have more than half already, from very generous donors. But we need the rest and that’s where the little people like me come in. I don’t have lots to contribute. My family is modest and we have what we need, we make sacrifices to send our kids to this school and we are happy to do it, but we cannot offer large sums to this endeavor. What we can offer is our time and talents. This is why I’m doing this. I will offer some of my treasure, but I feel that giving out of our other means is just as important.

I recognize that in North America we have more than enough to go around. And that our problems are first world problems! Sometimes when I sit and whine about how I need another oil change on my car, I have to pull myself back a few notches and remember that I am lucky to have a vehicle that takes me from point A to B without effort. I think of the countless girls who carry water on their backs and walk miles every day just to have drinkable water available. Hence, when I was looking for another cause to donate to, I thought of children in a different part of the world who may also be struggling with their education needs. I thought of my friend Louise, because she’s worked with organizations in Haiti and I knew their schools needed help. That is why I’m donating to the institute there.

So I hope that you will help me spread the word and hopefully this venture will inspire many to donate and help me reach the goal I’ve set. Because like it’s been said throughout our campaign, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Thank you.

 

Day 74

March 14, 2016

Outfit: Black dress worn backwards, brown boots, light khaki cardigan, borrowed necklace from Renée!

Buy from thy neighbour.

Having discussed “locally made” now let us talk about “locally owned”.

In the same way that importing has replaced the local manufacturer, corporations have replaced the local vendor. Big box companies as well as large multi-label corporations are what fill our shopping malls nowadays. You may see a bunch of different stores with different target markets ranging from tweens to seniors, but they are all owned by the same parent corporation. Companies like The Gap, have something for everyone’s budget, Old Navy for the thrifty shopper and Banana Republic for the elite, and Gap fitting comfortably in the middle.

Most of these stores operate under what is now called ‘private label’ which means they have their own design department and they simply provide goods to customers directly.  The difference between these stores and the traditional boutique or department store is that they do not carry someone else’s lines. They cut out the middle man. So the cost of the consumer would be technically less because they don’t have a wholesale price to contend with. They still have to go through a manufacturer that converts their designs into finished product, but their cost is much lower.  These private label stores put the local store owner at a disadvantage when it comes to price. The local boutique has to buy product from a design line, which sells wholesale to them. Then the owner has to mark up the wholesale price in order to make a profit themselves. The cost of doing this is generally more than that of private label. So for a while small boutiques and even department stores were failing. Some of the department stores have resorted to producing their own private label. But the small business owner is left with a choice. To provide a better product that fits a niche market or to perish trying to compete with bottom feed prices from the chains.

So to those small store owners who chose the former, it becomes crucial to build a solid relationship with loyal and returning customers. This is where personal service comes to the forefront and simply providing product is not enough. These small businesses need to rely on excellent quality coupled with accurate product knowledge and great customer service in order to truly stand above the norm.

And they do that. That’s what keeps people coming back to them and being willing to spend a little bit more than at the shopping centre. But it is not easy for these stores, it is a very competitive industry. And here is where us as consumers need to make a choice. Did you know that for every one hundred dollars spent supporting a local business, forty six dollars make it back into the community compared to only eighteen if buying at a chain store? According to LOCO a Vancouver based non-profit organization that promotes local business support and initiatives, even 1% increase in BC based consumer spending would create 3100 jobs and 94M in annual wages to BC workers!

When looking at stats like those, the choice should be easy, yet, in many cases it comes down to price and convenience. So maybe we must start to look at it from a different angle, is the low price we pay really portraying the true cost to all of us in the long run? Is it ultimately affecting our local economy in a positive way? And when it comes to convenience, I try to look at it like I approach fast food. It may certainly be convenient to buy French fries at the drive thru, but in the long run it is not the best choice for my health or my hips!

Day 72

March 12th, 2016

Outfit: Slim cut jeans, dress worn backwards, hand me down kimono sweater, brown belt.

Unless item:   Original necklace made by dragonfly designs. Specialzing in cooper wiring, Sharon is able to create works of art from simple rolls of copper. (Come into the store to see more of her beautiful works).

Hanging with locals!

Locally made is not the same as locally owned. Both though, have infinite benefits for our economy.

“Locally made”,  as I mentioned in a previous post, can be categorized as Made in Canada or Product of Canada. It is a lot easier for other sectors like the food industry for instance, to fit the requirements to be a full product of Canada. You can easily adapt to the 100-mile diet if you live somewhere like the Okanagan where farms and local produce abound. But not so much for clothing, we don’t have tailors or seamstresses every two blocks and there is certainly no mills or weavers that can provide the raw material. So for clothing, we are happy when we can find something that is “made in Canada”. That means that at least the labour and the finishing was done locally and employed people in our community (yes, our Canadian community).

Why is it so relevant to find something made in Canada? Well, I don’t know if you realize by simply looking at your labels, but in the last 30 years or so, the apparel manufacturing sector in Canada has literally shrunk from about 70% to 40% as of 2004 and even further in the past 10 years. (1). This is due to Continue reading “Day 72”

Day 70

March 10th, 2016

Outfit:  Black dress worn forward. Grey tights, black boots. Hoop earrings.

Unless item: Original Jacket from BESOREAL Fashions. Locally made, unique clothing designed to let you be yourself. Quality made items that will last for years. http://www.besoreal.com/

WHAT IS MADE IN CANADA?

Do you know what it means to be made in Canada? I have had many people ask me how can you tell and why are some things labeled Canadian yet they say they are made in ___________(fill in the blank).

Here’s the not-so-short answer on the labeling requirements according to the Competitor Bureau of Canada:

In order for a product to be labeled “Product of Canada” it must meet the following two conditions:

(a) the last substantial transformation of the good occurred in Canada, and

(b) all or virtually all (at least 98%) of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the good have been incurred in Canada.

For a product to bear the label of Made in Canada it must meet the following three conditions:

(a) the last substantial transformation of the good occurred in Canada;

(b) at least 51% of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the good have been in Canada, and

(c) the “Made in Canada” representation is accompanied by an appropriate qualifying statement, such as “Made in Canada with imported parts” or “Made in Canada with domestic and imported parts”. This could also include more specific information such as “Made in Canada with 60% Canadian content and 40% imported content” (link)

When it comes to clothing, the first part is easy, because the transformation of goods occurs when the cloth is made into a garment. The second criterion is trickier, considering that most manufacturers of fabric are now outside of North America, mainly in Asia, purchasing fabric from Canada is practically impossible. So, since you can’t buy Canadian cloth, the chances of your garment being “Product of Canada” are very slim, unless the maker actually harvested the cotton or wool and then wove the fabric themselves. For this reason, the most common designation is “Made in Canada”.

The biggest expense in manufacturing clothing is the labour. Consequently, if a garment is sewn in Canada, the cost is substantially higher because our minimum wages are higher than in other countries. And that makes up for the 51% of costs.

There are many garment companies that are Canadian but do not manufacture in Canada. Their designation is “Designed in Canada”.

Truly Canadian made clothing is like an endangered species. It has become incredibly difficult to find factories that can still manufacture and stay competitive. The percentage of clothing made in Canada has dropped incredibly over the past 25 years. This is definitely a topic for a different day though, since there is so much to share.

For now, though, hopefully this explanation makes it a bit easier to understand your choices when reading labels. If a garment reads “Made in Canada” don’t be surprised to see a higher price tag. You’re paying for local wages. So if a garment says Made in Canada but the cost is really low, there’s something fishy.

I am not trying to knock down a “Designed in Canada” label. It has become very hard for Canadian companies to stay afloat and we all have to do what we have to do. But if you do see a Made in Canada label, contemplate for a while and see beyond the garment, to realize the sacrifices and hurdles that those companies go through in order to keep investing in an industry that is almost gone. Hats off to those who keep up the good fight.

Day 63

March 3rd, 2016

Outfit:  Black dress worn backwards, chevron stripe skirt, black skinny belt, red shoes, red necklace, red purse. Another skirt made by yours truly. This one was tricky only to match the stripes so they formed the ‘v’ at centre front.

A year without ‘Made in China’

Could you live without Chinese-made items for a whole year? That’s exactly what the family in the book I just finished reading (A year without “Made in China”, by Sara Bongiorni) did!

In truth it was the wife who came up with the idea and the husband followed suit – I think he had no choice! There was a reason she secretly called him ‘the weakest link’, fearing that at any point he might cave in and buy something outlawed by their boycott.  The kids were too little to have a say, but they certainly noticed that they couldn’t have regular buckets and pails for the summer because they were ‘made in China’. The book is quite funny as it documents their ups and downs through the struggle of buying items that were not manufactured in China. It was an experiment (what is it with people like us?) to see just how much of our stuff came from there and whether or not it has a monopoly on commodities. As funny as it is written, it certainly makes you realize how dependent we are on stuff made overseas. It wasn’t just clothing or toys, she couldn’t even buy printer ink! All made in China. And interestingly enough, when it comes to celebrating holidays, everything is Chinese. So she called it Chinese Christmas, Chinese Halloween and Chinese Fourth of July (in our case it would be Chinese Canada day). But, for real, how exactly do the factory workers feel about making Americana and Canadian merchandise for us to feel patriotic? Does that seem ironic to anyone else?

I laughed hysterically when the husband went around in mismatched flip flops because the rules they had set up did not allow for even used Chinese items. Have you tried buying flip flops made elsewhere lately?  And I could certainly relate when she started to bend the rules on ‘gifts’ from others because she felt it was too much to impose the restrictions on friends or family to adhere to their rules.

All around it was a great insight on once again, the result of our over consumption and just how used to it we’ve become.

Spoiler alert, it is almost impossible to boycott China if you ever want to own a television set, or a coffee maker, but at least it is good to know that where there’s a will, there’s a way and that we can spread our spending among other countries of origin if only we put in a little effort and use all kinds of will power and self restraint.

I loved it and highly recommend it, if you’re up to the challenge. Here’s the link. A year without ‘Made in China’