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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Made in America!

I think I’m going to try an experiment for the next year. I think I’m going to try to buy only made in America. In the past the most important thing has been my bottom line, but now I’m realizing that maybe the most important thing is not necessarily to save every penny I can. I understand the global community is important for knowledge and development – but I think it’s important for me to evaluate whether I’m dismissing American goods that are comparable to the popular foreign good that I’m buying, without even a giving the American product a chance. By making the commitment to buy American wherever possible for the next year, it will force me to evaluate my choices and decide whether I am indeed making the best choices as a consumer. Maybe nothing will change, but just maybe I’ll be more educated about my choices and options.

I expect to learn a lot.

I think it’s going to be fun.

I think it’s going to be hard work.

I think I may decide that some stuff isn’t important enough for me to buy foreign when I find out there’s isn’t an American alternative.

After some research, I’ll probably make the decision to continue to buy some non-made in American goods. As a result, I’ll appreciate that product even more because I chose it based the knowledge that it’s a superior product in regards to innovation/workmanship/quality and it has no equal here in the States. I’m not buying it purely because of price point. It’s not fair for me to say “but there’s no quality (fill in the blank) made in America!” when I haven’t really even looked!

This is where I am right now: “I wonder how it would be to try and buy American for the next year”. These are my guesses as I sit in my chair, rolling this thought around – stream of consciousness style! (and yes, I’ll do a periodic update and let you know how it’s going once the project begins)
  • Clothes are going to be hard to find. On the other hand – thank goodness I recently updated my work wardrobe. I may not be to buy clothes for an entire year! Mmmm…I’ll save $$ there which is good since I’m probably going to pay more for everything else. Isn’t Kerrits American based?
  • Horse equipment is going to be hard. Do American made quality leather goods even EXIST????????? I wonder where my Stubben bit I love is made? My Toklet bit? What about the other brands I love – SSG, FITS, Tropical Rider, Ariat? Mmmm…..this is not looking good.
  • Thank Goodness I don’t have to replace my running shoes for a while! Do running shoes made in the US even exist?????????
  • I went to the tack store to pick up some items the other day. The score? Dressage pad – made in India, Irons – made in Korea, Shirt – made in Thailand, Girth – unknown. Mmm…


  1. At least our Renegades are made in the US! :)

  2. Hey Ashley, that's half the reason I picked Renegades over Easyboots. I am pretty serious about not buying Chinese when there's a non-Chinese alternative. Similar to what Mel's doing ;)

  3. It's actually a little more complicated than you propose... Not the actual buying, that's just the last step in a long chain of events, but the various layers of how consumers can approach this.
    First, you need to distinguish between American products and products manufactured in the US. A lot of American companies will have both. So to use an equestrian-related example, let's talk about Kerrits, one of my favorite companies. It is based in Oregon, was started by a woman and is run by women. Awesome and well worth supporting so far. The clothes are designed and tested in the US and some are made here (the tights) but others are made in China (the jackets.) Obviously they make their manufacturing decisions based on bottom line cost, and mix and match manufacturing locations as needed. Now, if you buy their clothing, even when Made in China, you are still supporting an American company, its (white collar) employees and their American product. So that would take care of you wanting to support the American economy.
    However, if you wanted to take it a step further, you would only buy their products made in the US and not the others because you actually want to protest the use of Chinese workers who have very few rights compared to American workers, who often have to live in dormitories, are still underpaid, sometimes exploited, etc. But then, some American companies may actually demand - and enforce - fair treatment of the Chinese they employ overseas - how do you find out whether Kerrits is one of those companies? You could argue that they give people jobs who otherwise may not make any money, could not support their families in rural areas, etc. So it gets complicated quickly.

    Also, why are you planning to exclude all products made in other countries, even when you know their workers have unions, rights, health insurance and other things (like long vacations) that even American workers cannot claim to have? What about well-made things from Germany, or Europe in general? Where do you make the distinction between well-treated and unfairly treated workers? Made in Mexico? How about Chile? Or Made in Vietnam, or Southeast Asia in general?
    Or is it not about the workers after all, just about the American economy and national pride? If so, the truth is that not all things made in the US are made well, and that a lot of things designed in the US but made elsewhere are great. Do you buy the best you can afford, regardless where it's from? Do you buy only American-made to make a point, even if it's a crappy product you have to replace again soon? Do you know how THAT American company treats its workers? How much vacation time they have? What their hourly wage is? Whether they can have a union? Health insurance? Paid maternal leave? The US is not a worker's paradise, that is for sure, so keep that in mind also.
    It is difficult to be an informed consumer these days but it can be done. Here my personal checklist:
    • Consume less.
    • Recycle more.
    • Buy the best you can afford so you can use it for a very long time.
    • Buy local or regional whenever you can.
    • Support small companies.
    • Support female-run companies.
    • Support companies that use sustainable products and methods.
    • Support companies that treat their workers well (wherever in the world they may be.)
    • Read, learn, read some more. Be informed.

    Good luck with your experiment. I'm sure it will be eye-opening.

  4. i hope you don't eat a lot of fruit and veggies....

  5. I'll be really interested to hear how this goes! I think its a great idea and one I might consider myself.
    Our company recently decided to set up a satelite lab in India and the idea has not gone over too well. I am finding it a little hard to swallow, since we've always prided ourselves on being a local company- that just happened to grow into a successful national company. I guess I didn't really think about where my clothes were being made, I know a lot of manufacturing is done overseas, just didn't expect it to hit us chemists!
    Karen W.

    Oh, and Wa state grow lots of apples and fruits if you need some that are US produced.

  6. I have several pairs of New Balance shoes that are made in the USA.

    Here is a shout out for Equestrian Rider Supply in Utah. They try to carry as many US made horse products as they can get their hands on! Check them out:

    Good luck with this! If everybody made an effort it would make a difference!!! We try too. I shop at Costco and try to stay away from Wal Mart. Some companies are rated better for carrying US made products.

    Have you seen the Jib-Jab video on this topic? It's pretty hilarious and gets the point across:

  7. Another plug for Kerrits--I'm pretty sure that if you ask them about which of their products are assembled in America, they will tell you. I have always been extremely happy with the company's willingness to communicate with customers!

    Their email is, phone number is 800-274-7946. And yes, they are local Swamplanders from Hood River, Oregon!

  8. I have been doing a similar "experiment" for several years now. I started out as a member of The Compact (buy nothing new except consumables for a year- only used stuff). That was 5-ish years ago. I eventually realized that I do sometimes have to buy new but challenged myself to buy new only if the product was made in the USA and hopefully try to purchase from a mom&pop stype store instead of a big box retailer. So far so good. I have changed my lifestyle completely thanks to these challenges. I now think outside the box and make sure I actually NEED something before I purchase it. I have also saved a ton of money buying used or not buying. Good luck!

  9. I like your experiment. I too, try my darndest to buy American made products. When I was a kid, you could buy almost anything made here. Our sheets, towels, clothing and shoes were mostly made here in the states. New Balance shoes are still made here, so that's what we buy. I try to buy locally grown produce also. I do this mostly because I fear that as a nation, we are becoming too reliant on others to grow and make our products. Self-reliance is an important part of my reasoning. Good luck with your buying experinces! :)

  10. Marlaina - What you describe sounds very interesting.

    I think I'm going to learn so much doing this - including why this is important to me. Rosanne - I think that what you describe is part of it - I value independence and maybe wanting to buy american is part of that.


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