About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am finishing up my midwifery apprenticeship and plan to be a real midwife early in 2014!

Friday, August 17, 2007

NOT made in Sweden

I waited more than two weeks after the opening of IKEA in Portland to join the throngs of consumers, the ones wanting more furniture for less. Now, Paul has a real aversion to IKEA, because he hates crowds and he hates how IKEA herds you from one department to the next, forcing you to walk through the entire store. I felt herded as soon as I was approaching the area in my car. But we've managed to pick up several IKEA products over the years. I love our coffee table from IKEA--it was exactly what I was looking for at the time (and still use it)--a coffee table with six cubbies below the top surface, so each of us have a cubby to store things in the living room, plus two left over, which we use for library books. It's a good solid piece of furniture and I think it'll be with us for quite some time.

On Monday I went into IKEA with a specific item that I was looking for, which I've been searching for for quite a while. I want a big cabinet to serve as a pantry in the little alcove just outside my kitchen. There's a little space there, that right now has an old small cupboard. But there's enough room there for a 30 inch wide, 22 inch deep, and up to about 80 inches tall cabinet. I could really use a nice big space for kitchen storage. But they're kind of odd dimensions and I haven't found anything that was just what I wanted.

I didn't find it at IKEA either, though some things came close and I might have made do with one of those solutions. But then I looked at the tag, where it says something like "country of origen: IKEA chooses it's suppliers on the basis of who can supply us with our specialized furniture for the most economic price. Therefore each piece of furniture may contain components from many different countries of origin." In other words, don't bug us about exploitation--you can buy it for cheap! And didn't we already tell you it's environmentally correct enough that you can feel good about it? There was more info on how they supposedly didn't destroy the environment to make this item--really, you can go ahead and keep buying lots of stuff. It won't hurt anything!

I had an interesting conversation with a woman while visiting my parents in June. This woman was talking about how great it is that there are dollar stores and the like now, and Target and Walmart and lots of places to buy good clothes for cheap. How she buys lots of extra clothes for her grandkids so it's on hand when they're at her house, so if they get dirty they can just change into clean clothes. How it wasn't like that when her own children were small--you had to buy clothes at department store prices and you couldn't afford to have extras. I just couldn't resist--I often just stand there listening to these kinds of conversations, not saying what I'm thinking, but I spoke my mind this time. "But, did you ever think of where those clothes came from? Who made them? How much they could possibly be getting paid, when you are paying only a couple of dollars for an item of clothing?" And went on to talking about how people are exploited, because most of our clothing nowadays comes from China, where human rights are abominable (the food scares we've been having lately from food from China? Did you know they *executed* the person in charge of food safety?) and workers get paid next to nothing, certainly not enough to live a decent life. And I told her that a much better option, in my mind, is to buy from thrift stores and consignment stores, where you're just re-using someone else's exploitative clothing, instead of having new exploitative clothing made for you, and it's often even less expensive than Target or Walmart to buy thrift store clothing. But this woman didn't like the idea of her grandsons wearing something that's already been worn by someone else. Okay, I shut my mouth, but I didn't stop thinking, so she'd rather her grandson didn't wear something worn already, and have them wear something that someone else's blood, sweat and tears paid for.

What bothers me is that environmental issues are the issues du jour. Everyone is talking about them, with good reason. And I'm not saying to stop--I think we need more discussion on environmental issues. But when we speak of the environment and ignore the human suffering that is happening around the globe--and in our own United States--it is a lopsided concern. We cannot be whole until we look at all these issues together. It's a pet peeve I have with PETA--I am all for the ethical treatment of animals. I just wish they were concerned about the human animal as well as others in the animal kingdom.

So, I won't get my cool IKEA cabinet that I was hoping to find. But I'll be able to live with myself for awhile longer.

1 comment:

Xenia Kathryn said...

Wow, I didn't know that about Ikea and their "ways" of obtaining cheap materials. That's very good to know!

I've managed to avoid making a trip out there. I would like to go for the sake of just seeing what it's like, but I don't want to get sucked into buying stuff. It just might be too big of a temptation...

Besides, if our apt. gets one more piece of furniture, it'll burst. :P

SC