About four years ago, I learned of Sara Bongiorni's book A Year Without "Made in China" completely by accident, while sitting at my desk attempting to work, overhearing my boss and my boss's boss chat on their extended lunch break, loudly, on the other side of my cubicle wall. It was impossible to block out the sounds of my boss's boss's harsh voice as she bellowed her opinions about Bongiorni's decision to boycott Chinese products for a year as an experiment to see if it was possible.
At the time, I was more annoyed by the rude intrusion upon my concentration and my work environment than I was interested in the book. But the idea of boycotting products made in China took root in my subconscious and has festered there for the last four years.
About six months ago, when I learned of China's horrific propensity to manipulate the weather, my subconscious split open around the memory of this book. I began to notice "Made in China" tags everywhere in my household. On my towels, my plates, my knives, and the majority of the clothes hanging in my closet. I began to look at the tags of items in stores. All the holiday decorations for Thanksgiving and Christmas were made in China. All the calendars but two in Borders in December where made in China. I can't find a dress that isn't made in China, or shoes. There doesn't seem to be a single plastic item left in the world not produced in China.
I subtly began to shift my buying: If there were two similar items that I liked, I would buy the one not made in China. I began to feel guilty when I did purchase something made in China. I wasn't making a conscious decision to boycott China, but it was there in the back of my head, idealized. I thought, I've managed to boycott Walmart for the last five or more years, how hard could it be to boycott China?
The answer: ridiculously difficult. In registering for our upcoming wedding, I noticed that nearly every kitchen item I wanted was made in China. The one time I had the choice between made in China and not was when selecting a colander. The one made in the United States was a Martha Stewart colander. I chose it. How sad is it that the better choice (in my mind) between China and Martha Stewart was to support the ex-con multimillionaire!
As I scanned the colander to add it to my registry, I decided that I needed to finally read Bongiorni's book. I needed to see for myself what she went through to live without China for a year. I also need to do more research on China. If I'm going to boycott an entire nation, I'm going to boycott it for a more platform-worthy reason than Bongiorni's.