Sara Bongiorni and her family decided to boycott products made in China for one year. They didn’t do this for any particular political or economic reason. Sara did not stand on a soapbox and rail against sweat shops and cheap manufactured goods being imported into the US economy. This boycott was simple a test to see if one average US family could live without purchasing anything from China.
The results are thoughtful, with some surprising and some expected conclusions. China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and it has a strong grip on the global market. Sara’s book details the family struggles, going 1 year without the basic technological needs (a coffee maker, a blender blade) and even going to some extremes (wearing glacier sunglasses instead of basic sunglasses for everyday use). Her adventures are comical, particular the reactions of merchants, family and friends to this boycott who waver between support, and amusement as this family tries to navigate their way through the marketplace with strict shopping restrictions.
One thing that bugged me, is that it seemed as if the only store the family went to were Target. I don’t know much about Louisiana, esp pre-Hurricane Katrina, but I would imagine there would be more competition for basic goods that Target provides in a store other than the generic Wal-Mart which the Bongiorni family boycotts for the usual reasons (racist and sexist policies and Wal-Mart’s bullying tactics of its suppliers).
While reading this book, I would often pause and take inventory of my home and see how much of what I own does come from China. It sounds like a fun experiment, although I doubt I would be able to last an entire year. The family went through an entire year with only a few minor slip-ups, some blatant, some accidental, most were ambiguous (Does made in Denmark with Chinese components count as a China-product? What if there is no label?). I think I could last a month. I applaud Bongiorni and her family’s accomplishments with their test, particularly the kids who put up with an entire year of fewer toys and reasonable, but not ideal, alternative to their wishlists. I think this is a book that most people could benefit from, but not everyone will want to reenact.A Year Without “Made in China” by Sara Bongiorni John Wiley and Sons, 2007 ISBN 0470116135 235 pages