Made in China, part 1

I did my own back-to-school shopping last weekend.  For me, that means stocking up on the basics.  I bought a new pair of black Dockers (I’d have gotten more, but they only had one of my size) and nine long-sleeved tees – three black, three white, two ecru and one brown.  I went to Bealls, which is a Florida department store.  They’re inexpensive relative to Macy’s or Dillards, and it seems like everything is always on sale.  All of my items were 30% off.
It never occurred to me to look at the labels.  I was so happy to see that they had plain, scoop-neck, long sleeved, solid color tees that I just grabbed the ones in my size and headed for the cash register.  After I’d been home for a while, I checked the labels.  All of the shirts, and the Dockers, were made in China.
The reason that it occurred to me later to look at the labels was that I was reading a book called Cheap, by Ellen Ruppel Shell.  Here is an excellent review from Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing.  The book is about our discount culture, including outlet stores, Wal-Mart, Ikea, and stuff made in China.  I highly recommend the book.  It certainly made me think about what was hanging in my closet.  So, I went to check as many labels as I could find on my clothes, and other stuff.  Here’s what I found.
In addition to my new tees and Dockers, all of my old Dockers were also made in China.  Here are some other things that I own that were made in China:
  • Sixteen (16!!) jackets, including one that I bought in England and two that were “designer”
  • Twelve pairs of shoes
  • All of my stuffed animals, except for one teddy bear from Indonesia
  • All of my sports bras (Champion brand)
  • Two pairs of pajamas and one bathrobe
  • My phone
  • My computer bag
  • My Lands End tote 
The tags are long gone, but I suspect that all but one of Ralph’s toys were made in China.  He has a USA-made Nylabone, but all of the other dog toys that I’ve looked at in the past couple of years were made in China.  I’m sure all of my electronics – TVs, computers, phones – were made there as well.
Here were some surprises:
  • One long-sleeved tee from the Marianas Islands, which is a US territory, bought at J. Jill
  • One long-sleeved tee from Mauritius (I had to look at a map to find it; it’s a speck in the Indian Ocean), bought from Orvis
  • One short-sleeved tee from Malaysia, bought at JC Penney 
  • Six short-sleeved tees from Honduras, bought at Target (yay! Western hemisphere!)
  • Four jackets (same style, different colors) from Sri Lanka, bought at LL Bean
  • Two jackets from Vietnam
  • Pajamas from Vietnam and Indonesia
  • Hanes undies from Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Vietnam
  • Other undies from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Malaysia
  • Three pairs of shorts from Bulgaria
  • Two pairs of shorts from Peru
  • Huaraches from Mexico (actually not a surprise)
  • One pair of Reeboks from Vietnam
  • Two pairs of dress shoes from Thailand
  • My good hiking boots are from Italy!  I guess I’ll quit mowing the lawn in those.
  • My winter coat is from Korea.
  • Several exercise tops were made in Guatemala.
As for non-clothing items:
  • Aveeno night cream from Canada
  • Band-Aids from Brazil (!)
  • Towels, all bought at Target: made in Pakistan, Brazil, Thailand and the US
  • Dish towels from Pakistan
And, all of this was Made in the USA:
  • A sturdy canvas tote that was a giveaway at the Florida Library Association conference, from a book vendor
  • My Crayola crayons (yes, I have crayons!)
  • A Rubbermaid bucket
  • A Pendleton wool jacket that I’ve had for at least 25 years and never goes out of style
  • Two jackets from Coldwater Creek
  • One of my bathrobes, from Lands End
This was a fascinating exercise!  I would never have guessed that my dish towels were made in Pakistan, for one thing.  For another, it made me aware of just how much I’ve supported the “discount culture” with my purchases, even though I haven’t darkened the door of a Wal-Mart in at least three years (it’s not convenient to my house or work, it’s always crowded, the parking lot is frequently the site of crime in Ormond Beach, the place is a mess, I don’t support their employment policies, and frankly, I’ve found that a lot of their stuff is crap). 
How am I going to respond to these discoveries??  Tune in tomorrow for part 2.  🙂

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