Friday, November 9, 2007

Get the Lead Out: Safe Holiday Shopping

The first time I heard about the recall of toys from China that contained lead, I was a little concerned, but not so much that I did anything. Then another recall, and a little more concern, but then again, not much done. When the recalls started rolling in after that, I started tuning them out, it was too much.

Today, however, Parent Bloggers Network has asked me to think about what will happen this holiday season, when I start buying gifts for my kids and others. They would like me to actually think about it, not tune it out. And they have given me some resources to consider, including the League of Maternal Justice and the Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports.

When faced with issues like this, my first instinct is to say that it is too big of a problem and surely there is nothing I can do about it. I initially felt that way about the environment and global warming, but then I saw An Inconvenient Truth and came up with some ways that I could actually make a difference. I also gave myself time to achieve those goals, rather than making it an assignment on my to-do list. It has become a lifestyle change.

Can I do that for this problem as well? How can I figure out what has lead in it? Do I ban all toys from China? Do I prohibit others from giving those things to my kids? How would I do that? How can I stay in my budget? How can I shop online (which I really like to do in December to make things easier), and be able to know where things are made? And on top of everything else that is already going on this season?

Let me break it down into what I can do:

1. Give books
They are great gifts and I don't think they have a lead issue (I will be pissed if that happens!)

2. Buy local
Figure out my budget and factor in shipping (I guess I would need to do that anyway) and start early. Hold things in my hands and see where they are made. Seek out local products. Now that I think about it, that should not be hard in the Bay Area, especially with all our wonderful gourmet foods. Scharffenberger Chocolate, here I come.

3. Consider not giving as much
This is a year-to-year goal which I have not been very successful implementing.

4. Go homemade
My friend Vero over at Little Elephants who took the Handmade Pledge, vowing to buy handmade and request that others do the same for her. This I might be able to accomplish, at least with certain friends. I have a zillion jars of jam and as you saw from my post last night, have mastered the art of making them look festive. Vero also had a link to Sew, Mama, Sew, with great ideas for a completely handmade holiday.

5. Sign up to be a Safe Shopper with Consumers Union
This is an interesting idea, although I am not sure how comfortable I am with confrontation. Frankly, I am more likely to just take my business elsewhere! I do applaud Consumers Union for using the power of pissed off parents to help bring this situation in front of people (like me!) who think there is nothing they can do to help.

Wow, I guess this is a little less bleak than I thought. I still want to buy my kids digital cameras, which will involve some research, but avoiding plastic painted things might be wise anyway. And there are some great local arts and crafts fairs coming up, so I have no doubt I will find places to spend my money.

Thanks for helping me work through this. Now, tell me what you plan to do about the issue of lead in toys this holiday season....

1 comment:

Nancy Bergenske said...

Thanks for the cake recipe and good luck on your shopping!