I love Internet shopping regardless of the inherent problem since I can’t touch or smell the products I see online. I’ve been in for a hard lesson lately about how this problem has worsened as a consequence of the impact the “recovery” from 2008’s financial collapse has had on Internet shopping because manufacturers are taking advantage of lower cost imported supplies from newer trading partners like China.
I wanted to replace a 100 percent cotton futon mattress, so I went to the same online seller I used the first times. We have chemical sensitivities in the family, so getting “safe” and “green” household goods is paramountly important. I had purchased from this online seller twice before and been very pleased with the materials and product, which didn’t cause harm. To my dismay and horror, when the replacement arrived, I discovered the materials were of a different quality and of a different origin: China.
Materials that are non-safe, non-green and that contribute to indoor air contamination–which, according to the EPA, can be between 2 and upwards of 100 times more contaminated than outdoor air–“gas-off” toxic fumes and may “dust-off” toxic particles, like vinyl does. It is this gas and dust, like from vinyl horizontal window blinds, that accumulate as indoor air contamination.
When I opened the packaging (itself noxious dioxin and phthalate laden plastic), I was overwhelmed by the off-gassing fumes from the futon mattress. I bundled it back up in its noxious plastic and dragged it outside to the back patio.
What Tips I Learned
Tip 1: If you want to buy a safe, green futon mattress that does not gas- and dust-off, do not buy it online. I kept trying and wound up rejecting four futon mattresses.
Tip 2: Go to an upscale shop to buy your futon mattress, someplace where you can smell and touch the materials before you bring them into your home (and if the air in the store is so contaminated that you can’t tell if the smell is the store or the product, go elsewhere).
Tip 3: Always ask where the materials/products come from. Goods now have labeling designating “Imported” if not domestic: ask “Imported from where?” Not to add to China’s miserable export reputation, what with pet food, drywall, toothpaste and all, but if the sales clerk says, “From China,” smile, say, “Thank you,” and walk out the front door.
Part of the problem is that some of the goods exported from China are made “under the radar,” so to speak: Chinese police arrest the manufacturers when–if–they find out about contamination. Some Chinese manufacturers focus on creating sales by adding ingredients that boost sales, like melamine for appearance in pet food. The Washington Times says: “In no uncertain terms, nothing from China can be assumed to be safe” ( Decker and Triplett ).
Tip 4: Avoid bringing China’s export problems into your home: don’t buy it if products or materials are imported from China.
More from this contributor:
First Person: The New Economic ‘Normal’ Looks Abnormal to Me
EU Tries to Establish Mediterranean Free Trade Zone, Meets Fierce Opposition
First Person: Charitable Giving on a Tight Budget
Brett M. Decker and William C. Triplett II. ” China’s poisonous exports .” The Washington Times, 2011.
” Made in China: Seven toxic imports .” The Week, 2009.
” Questions About Your Community: Indoor Air .” Environmental Protection Agency, 2013.
Margaret Elkis.” Poisonous Chinese Imports Nothing New .” Economy in Crisis, 2013.