Made In The U.S.A.

Ten things… The last part.

In Adventures on May 29, 2009 at 12:58 am

Last year I also bought:

8. Paint. Lots and lots of paint. Behr, the house brand at Home Depot, appears to be made in California. That’s where I used to get all my paint; not California, but the Depot. When I painted this house, however, I went to Paint Supply on South Grand. They suggested some companies I’d never heard of, but they ended up being really nice to paint with–and they cost about a third of the price of the Home Depot paints. And I can’t for the life of me remember their names. The point is, I at least feel better about buying local from a little paint store than I do from a big corporation. And it was cheaper. That was kind of a nice change.

I suppose if I was going to paint this year, which I may, I’d look into environmentally friendly paints more than anything. “No VOCs” paints are all the rage, because they don’t contain “volatile organic compounds” which make it bad to breathe the air. I recall seeing “no-VOC” paints at the big box stores. Turns out, it was Freshaire brand paint at Home Depot. The Lowes option is from Olympic, which is a “premium” VOC-free paint. I think, or perhaps assume, that the Olympic paint can be mixed in any color since it’s simply the premium line of paints, whereas other “eco-friendly” paints appear to be premixed and therefore of a limited palette. I’m thinking that the ideal option is to find VOC-free paint that didn’t come from terribly far away. If you could easily find that information online, I’d print it here. As it’s impossible to find online, I’ll just keep my eyes open in the store when the time comes.

9. Shelving and storage systems. I outfitted my home office with wire storage shelves from Target. They were a discount version of a more expensive and presumably higher-quality shelf I’m familiar with. Presumably that means they came from the third world. I’ve got a basement full of Rubbermaid tubs. Turns out that Rubbermaid is now part of a huge multinational company that makes all sorts of brands all over the place. It’s one of those brands that lurked at the back of my brain as a MITUSA product, and I think in large part the cheap plastic tubs are in fact Made In The USA.

I’m guessing this because it probably costs more to ship an injection-molded piece of plastic than it does to make one. I learned this in the late 1990s when I got a tour of the Pelican facility in Southern California. Pelican makes really great, and really expensive, heavy duty waterproof cases for all sorts of equipment–like cameras and electronics and such. I learned on my tour that what makes the stuff so expensive is the milled molds that the plastic is melted and injected into. These molds cost, as I recall, like $30,000 to $50,000 depending on the product. Then they inject the mold with 15 cents worth of plastic and make a $300 case. The cost is in the setup; but once it’s setup, they can ship you the case and request that you not send it back because it’s literally cheaper to just provide a replacement. That’s why Pelican has a lifetime no-questions-asked replacement warranty. Because it’s cost effective and great for the customer too. But now I’ve digressed.

I also bought a lot of little space-saving storage things for my kitchen. The kind of stuff you buy at Organized Living or The Container Store. (One of them is out of business now. I forget which. Sorry.) I’m assuming that the vast majority of the space-saving solutions in those stores–because they’re comprised of wire mesh and plastic and other random things–just seems like exactly the sort of stuff that would come from China. If I needed to buy that sort of thing this year, I suppose I’d look to antique shops for similar things that I can re-use, and probably take a bit more of a DIY approach. I probably wouldn’t shell out ten bucks for a set of magnetic spice jars that I stuck to the side of my fridge and now can’t live without. And that’s kind of a shame.

10. A whole bunch of knick-knack (junk) I probably didn’t need. Candles. Candlesticks. Blown glass thingamajigs. Bookends. Clocks. Flower pots. Coasters (2 sets). Sconces. TV trays. Embellishments. Flair. Junk.

All of it probably came from China.

If I were going to buy it this year, I couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. Any time I’m around a Hobby Lobby or truck stop or Big Lots or Target or Cute Little Corner Store or what-have-you, I check the labels on the stuff. All of that knick-knacky decor stuff? Universally, and I mean almost literally 100% universally, from China. It really does make me wonder about a country that can produce that much stuff. There’s something wrong with them. I hope they’re finding some time to enjoy their weekends. And I hope there’s a park somewhere that they can hang out in. It really is a lot of stuff. And nobody really needs it.

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