Christmas was lovely this year. My girlfriend and parents came over in the morning and we opened gifts and ate pastry and my dad ran through a whole 8 cups of coffee by noon.
Plus, I got good stuff.
Among the lovely things my mother gave me was a basket. It was simple, and perfect for toting a baking dish or just using as a table centerpiece. I noticed the tag prominently read “Made in Bangladesh.” I commented on it because a little bit of Bangladesh—a country I couldn’t find on a map if I tried—had woven its way into my family Christmas.
A few minutes later, as I opened a box to reveal a nice Izod checked shirt, the first thing I noticed was the tag: Made in Bangladesh. What were the chances!
As it turns out, the chances are actually quite good. I once noticed that the tags on my Gap and Banana Republic and Target shirts all seemed to be from exotic locales—Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China… These brands seem so uniquely American, so it’s hard to picture the bulk of their products—to the layperson, anyway—originating from parts of the globe I can only imagine. I can also only imagine the conditions in which my clothing is made. But I suppose as I do when it comes to food origins, I generally prefer not to think too hard about it.
But the thought nagged. Putting the question of whether or not my parents and I need to exchange quantities of stuff annually to show our love for one another aside, can it be remotely healthy for all of that stuff to come from everywhere but the US of A? I haven’t been living under a log so I don’t pretend to be surprised that stuff is made in China and other cheap-labor locales. But I’m no expert this stuff, and I’m probably a pretty average American in terms of informed vs. uninformed, and I never really realized that pretty much everything we buy is from somewhere far, far away.
So I decided then and there that in the coming new year I’d make a second resolution. In addition to the standard goal of losing mass quantities of weight, I decided that I won’t buy anything that isn’t Made In The USA. I only hope it’s easier than laying off the Oreos.
Because really, is buying Bangladeshi-made shirts really any better than buying Chinese-made shirts? I doubt it. So maybe, just to see, I’ll try to buy only made in the USA for a year. Can it possibly work? Who knows. But at least, if nothing else, through paying close attention to the origins of what I buy, I won’t be blindsided by my consumption again. And maybe I’ll become a more informed consumer, then a smarter consumer, and eventually a consumer of less stuff.