Made In The U.S.A.

Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

What it says on the New Balance tag

In Stuff on January 20, 2009 at 1:16 pm

New Balance: A commitment to U.S. manufacturing.

Many of our shoes are produced in one of six United States factories. While most of the footwear industry has moved its production overseas to take advantage of low labor costs and generally cheaper production costs, we continue to have many of our shoes made in the United States Read the rest of this entry »

On Stuff

In Stuff on January 16, 2009 at 11:21 pm


Stuff: Noun. The stuff you stuff your face with, or the stuff you stuff your house with, or the stuff you stuff your ego with. Stuff. Anything you buy. Goods, wares, junk, purchases, etc. Stuff.

Usually I don’t need most of the stuff I buy. I think I need it, or I want it, or I like it, etc. But I could make do without quite so much stuff, I’m sure.


On the origins of all sorts of stuff

In Stuff on January 16, 2009 at 12:53 pm


I suppose I should come up with some sort of hypotheses about which stuff comes from where. So, let’s see…

Food: I’m guessing most of it will come from the U.S. But I’m also assuming that it’ll be hard to tell the origins of much of it. And, secondly, are things like Argentinian chiles and oranges from Mexico off limits? Shelley says cans and stuff? I have no idea.

Clothes: I think this might be one of the hardest things to buy made in the USA. Unless we count vintage, in which case I’m golden. Most of my clothes seem to come from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and Thailand. Shelley says she doesn’t check clothing labels. Never, in fact.

House stuff: Shelley says she can’t even venture a guess. I assume some furniture will be US made, but most knick knacky stuff will be from the far east. Maybe India.

Electronics: I’m guessing that’s the other big impossibility. Are Zenith TVs still made? Weren’t they made in the USA? I’m in trouble if I have to buy a TV. I think.

Cars? Come on. That’s a tough one.

Consumables? Probably made in America for paper towels, TP, etc.

Ugh. There’s a lot to buy.


I have a feeling…

In Stuff on January 15, 2009 at 11:19 am


I have a feeling that one of the hardest parts of this process—at least at the beginning—is going to be simply remembering to check where the stuff I buy is made. Every little purchase I’ve made in the past few days, as a warmup perhaps, has caused Shelley to inquire without missing a beat: “Was it made in China?”


If nothing else, hopefully this process will at least make me aware of where my stuff comes from.

An informed consumer must be a better consumer, right?


How difficult is this gonna be?

In Stuff on January 14, 2009 at 10:17 am


Just out of curiosity I’ve been ramping up my awareness for the new year. Today in the shower I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Tilex spray I use daily to keep the shower clean is proud to be made in the USA. I vaguely recall seeing “Made in Missouri” banners on household cleaning supply displays at Schnucks (the grocery store where I make most of my edible purchases), so maybe with that stuff it’ll be easier than expected.

But in terms of food: am I screwed? I was spooning peanut butter into Hazel and Myra’s Kongs this morning (Kongs are semi-indestructible chew toys for dogs; I wonder where they are made?) and I decided to check the back of the Schnucks brand peanut butter for evidence. While it did warn me in big bold letters that the contents contain, horror of horrors, PEANUTS… It did not mention remotely where they’re from, or even where the PB was made, or even packaged. I have no idea what to think, except to assume that peanut butter can’t come from that far away, can it?


A little bit of Bangladesh, right here at home.

In Stuff on January 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm


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.