So, I started my New Year’s resolution a few months early. For awhile I’ve had a growing concern/discontentment with the fact that the vast majority of products are manufactured in China. Manufacturing quality concerns aside, I simply don’t want the majority of the financial and manufacturing power to go to a country that is not a democracy, has a dismal human rights record, poor to non-existent environmental accountability and an increasingly hostile military presence. The economic reasons for the mass production of products in China have been exhaustingly discussed on LJ’s in the past. Bottom line seems to be that a)manufacturing is cheaper in China, b)cheaper manufacturing means greater profits and ability to offer cheaper goods to consumers which has in many instances boosted sales.
Rather than just complain, or be quietly discontent and not do anything, I decided a few months ago that I would, to the best of my ability stop buying products made in China or Taiwan (which many debate is part of China; Taiwan certainly shares much of the economy/political structure of China). This has made shopping difficult and inconvenient, but not impossible. I’ve found that the vast majority of products are made in China, and not buying “made in China” is often not as simple as buying the product next to it on the store shelf. For example, my wife and I decided it was time for a new slow cooker. All of the seven different brands at our local big box store were made in China. Internet research failed to reveal any slow cookers, either high end or low end that were not made in China. Eventually we got one second hand that is in perfect condition, works well, and was made in the USA.
As this is lumberjocks.com, not slowcookers.com, I’ll talk about woodworking tools. Not surprisingly, most tools are made in China. However, there also are a lot of N. American or European made alternatives that I’ve found with a little bit of internet searching. There are many sites which are devoted to listing products still made in N. America. One of the difficulties has been finding woodworking machinery not made in China or Taiwan. I’m wanting to upgrade my 6” jointer to an 8” or larger and other than some very expensive industrial equipment manufacturers (eg. Felder) there appears to be nothing that is not made in China or Taiwan. This means that I’ll end up buying used, which is ok and probably means I’ll get a better jointer for equal $, but it is not as convenient as eg. placing an order on Grizzly.com and having a new jointer delivered to my door.
This process has highlighted in me my own consumerism: I want what I want and I want it now. Not “made in China” means that for many tools I can’t just run down to the local big box store and buy whatever is on sale. Usually this means a frustrating look at tools at the store, then a bunch of web research, then an online order and a wait for delivery in order to get something not made in China.
Will my actions have any impact on a local, national or global scale? Lol, absolutely not!! However, as nice as that 12” Grizzly jointer looks I can still do what I feel is right and remove myself from being part of the problem.
-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil