collage_edited-1We received a comment the other day suggesting we are somehow not being clear about the place of origin of one of our products. This isn’t accurate.

Like many others providing home and personal care products, we select many of our products in China.

Why China? And, why might someone consider this a bad thing?

There is an outdated notion, still held by some, that China is a source of low quality, cheap products. This may have been true in years past, but the opposite has been true for some time.

Think about it. In order to sell in markets around the globe, Chinese manufacturers must meet the safety standards of the United States and the member nations within the European Union, or EU. Other countries, Japan, for example, have safety standards of their own, but for this discussion, let’s concentrate on the U.S. and the EU as the most relevant.

In the United States a variety of agencies establish standards and enforce product safety requirements. The best known are the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, but there are others including the Federal Trade Commission which monitors, challenges and sometimes prosecutes businesses whose claims and practices are unfair, deceptive and/or fraudulent.

Responsible companies like ours insist that our suppliers understand and comply with these safety standards. But this is rarely an issue. Ambitious Chinese manufacturers want to meet these standards for their own success and prosperity.

But that’s not all. At this writing, Unicorn Station does not sell internationally, so we are most familiar with US safety standards. However, several of our suppliers sell into the European Union so those products must be compliant with EU standards where they must meet safety standards promulgated by individual countries and in the absence of relevant standards, they must meet those promulgated by the European Commission.

In other words, Chinese manufacturers must know and comply with safety standards set by the 28 member countries of the European Union including England, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, to name a few. If an individual country hasn’t issued a relevant standard, Chinese manufacturers must know and comply with the standard issued by the European Union Commission.

Does this suggest responsible Chinese manufacturers take product safety lightly? Of course not. But, for our company, there is more.

OEKA-TEX_Standard_100In addition to general safety standards regarding clothes, fabrics and accessories established by national and international agencies, Chinese bamboo manufacturers must also meet standards that control the quality of the raw material used to turn bamboo into fiber. Bamboo plantations adhere to the international organic standard of the Organic Crop Improvement Association International and the USDA National Organic Program to ensure each bamboo stalk is 100 percent natural and without any chemical pesticides. When the fabric is produced, it is certified to meet the OEKO-TEX Standard 100, proof that the finished fiber has been tested for harmful chemicals. OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is an independent testing and certification system for textile, raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of manufacture.

In the past, many Chinese manufacturers earned a justifiable reputation for cheap products. And there are some manufacturers still producing cheap, shoddy, and short-lived products. But reputable Chinese companies have embraced the safety standards set by the U.S. and the EU. And they have moved to embrace the organic standards set by very well regarded international organizations.

Our products meet those standards as well as our own selection and inspection processes, and we believe it’s shortsighted and, frankly, somewhat old fashioned, to dismiss products just because they are made in China.