One of the great things about reading (there are so many!) is that one good book will often lead you to another. That was the case with Cheap, which led me to another book, called A Year Without “Made in China” by Sara Bongiorni. I recommend this book, too. Sara was already a Wal-Mart boycotter when, on Christmas Day of 2004, she was appalled by the amount of Made in China stuff that her two small kids got for Christmas. She decided to make a New Year’s resolution that she would spend 2005 without buying anything made in China. Her book details her experiences, which are often funny. I won’t spoil any of it; I’ll just say that she had mixed results. The items that gave her the most difficulty were toys, shoes, sunglasses, holiday decorations, humane mouse traps, and printer ink cartridges.
There are a lot of reasons to try not to buy Chinese-made stuff. Sara’s explanation to her kids was that she wanted to give the rest of the world a chance. My reason when I was shopping for dog toys was environmental – how much fuel got burned to get that fleece duck from China to my local PetSmart? There’s also the sweatshop argument, although that’s a double-edged sword. Do you refuse to buy anything that was made in a sweatshop because you want to punish the parent company, or do you buy those things because the sweatshop workers have such an awful life and if their jobs were to disappear it would only get worse?
For me, the most compelling argument right now is economic. We have to bring manufacturing back to the US. An economy built on the accounting shell games that the big banks play will never fully recover. My trip around the world, courtesy of my own closets, has been an eye-opener. I was pleasantly surprised that I did have a few US-made things, but also disappointed that I had so few.
I did a Google search for “women’s clothing made in USA” and got a long list of results, several of which look very promising. Of course I haven’t bought anything from any of them yet, so I can’t guarantee any kind of customer satisfaction from any of these, but here is a short list:
Made in USA Forever.com – not just clothes, but also shoes, great toys, furniture, and more
All USA Clothing – where I should have gotten my long-sleeved tees
A.S. Tees – men’s, women’s and kids’ clothing
Americans at Work – a directory of Made in the USA goods of all types (air cleaners to wood stoves, including holiday decorations!)
It’s not New Year’s Day, but I’m going to make a resolution anyway: Buy American whenever possible. Starting now.
I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂