Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Made in the USA update


It's been a week, and what occurs to me most is "why the hell am I doing this"? I've (tried) to give up products not made in the United States and there have already been very frustrating moments.

Some of your comments, too, have me concerned: Chris in Seattle says that even if just one small component is US made, the entire product can be labeled thus. Randal brings up the whole travesty of the Marianas Islands- a scheme brought to life by Tom DeLay et. al. where products made in sweatshops by asian women (who may be forced to undergo abortions just to stay on the job-whassat? christian right?) are still able to be labeled Made in the USA.

Frankly, I think that no one is even trying that hard to deceive anymore because no one is paying attention.

And its so convoluted to try to figure out the place of origin on some things. Yesterday I went to spend a Barnes and Noble gift certificate. CDs and DVDs are marked 'printed in the US'. But does this mean that the package is printed here or are the CDs and DVDs printed here? No doubt the jewel cases are Chinese. Should I care? And another point-I wouldn't ordinarily buy from Barnes and Noble except for the gift certificate. I prefer to buy CDs from a locally owned store rather than to download (I'm probably 50/50 right now). Downloading is environmentally better, but buying locally is economically better. I havent' figured that out on the hierarchy yet.

I just came from the grocery store. Today I broke down and bought straws for my daughter. I don't buy them because she tends to spill when she uses one, she tips her glass toward her like she's drinking but still has the straw; also single use plastic items are just kind of a 'no'. So I bought them and Ben pulled them out of the bag. "Busted", said he. "China?" "China". Crap. They're probably 100% phthalate neon glow straws. I did find a face scrubbie thing since I can't buy Biore strips; those dandy little wonders that yank stuff out of your pores are made in Canada. I wonder if the lady in the HABA aisle thought the little "whoo hoo" I squeaked out was weird. 3M corp. Minnesota. Made in the USA.

Ben got stuck out of town one night last week. He needed clothes for work and stopped at Kohl's to get a dress shirt for the next day's meeting. You absolutely can't impulse-buy on this program.

I also had clothes to exchange at the Gap. I can't tell you how deflated I felt walking in to the mall knowing that there is probably not a single thing in those 5 acres of mall store product that was manufactured here.

And tomorrow is Ben's birthday. I also went to Kohls yesterday to see if I could find a kitchen gadget miraculously made in the USA. Wisconsin used to be home to three or four manufacturers, like the Mirro company who make small appliances and pots and pans. The closest I came to something for Ben was a product labeled 'Engineered in the USA. Made in China'. We'll be going out for dinner.

We won't order the Chilean Sea bass. (I knew better before this experiment anyway).

13 comments:

CDP said...

I've read about the Marianas labor issue, too. Residents of Guam have many of the rights of US citizens, except that minimum wage and other FLSA protections don't apply there, so some cheap "made in USA" goods could also be coming from Guam. I sympathize on the straws; I have a 3 year old who insists he needs a straw before he'll drink milk or orange juice.

Randal Graves said...

Engineered in the USA, made in China? Yikes. I've never seen that before. Sneaky bastards.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Keep trying and setting the example for the rest of us. Maybe when the whole economy falls apart they'll start making things in the USA again.

I'd modify your program one small way though, I'd go ahead and buy Canada made goods because they are at least made in North America.

Jess Wundrun said...

Dr. MvM do you mean I can buy Biore strips? Yay.

randal true they're sneaky, but I had to spend a few moments considering American engineers. They need our love too.

cdp my 4yo thinks she can drink orange juice from an orange if she sticks a straw in it.

FranIAm said...

Dr Monkey with the ideas and the good ones.

I do admire you dear Jess, but wow, such an undertaking.

And you mean you can't drink oj from an orange with a straw??

When I was a kid, my mom got this thing that was plastic and had something that looked like the sippy part of a sippy cup at one end and was sharp and round at the other. You stuck it in an orange and squeezed hard, sucked through the sippy part and yes...

This was in 1964 I think!

Dr. Zaius said...

I can't begin to imagine how difficult that must be to do. Based on your post, I looked at few products in the grocery store the other day. Nothing is made in America.

Sorghum Crow said...

Engineered in America by engineers with an H-1B visa?
Actually, I first saw the "designed in America" thing on bicycles when most mass production of frames was moved overseas.
Jess, you're doing well, at a hard task, and heck just looking at the origin is practically unique.
Sterilite plastic containers (W*lmart) are still made in the USA, and so are some of the Martha Stewart plastics from Kmart.
I actually bought three items at W*lmart the other day and two were made in America and one in Canada.
A DVD was made in the USA as were my safety razor blades, (not as good as the German ones), and tissues made in Canada.
Stay tuned for an update on my Luddite switch to an old fashioned double edged safety razor.

dguzman said...

As Monkey says, keep on trying, Jess. If enough of us at least try, who knows? Maybe we will make a dent. And god knows the repubs are going to bring down our economy crashing down all on their own, so anything we do is just gravy!

Thanks for the update, and keep up the good work!

commander other said...

you have more...er...gumption, than i do. we just got a new computer here, and i think every component was Made in China.

in some ways, i think that's kinda cool. my computers have traveled all over the world: much further than i have ever been. i feel tied into the global consciousness.

which actually means i feel rather depressed and my sense of self-worth is quite minimal. hell, even existentially minimal.

but i digress, of course.

i wish more things were made in the USA, but on the other hand, knowing that the USA is actually run by a bunch of corporations instead of "the people", i'm not altogether choked up about almost everything i own coming from somewhere else. the American economy theoretically profits from the shit no matter where the shit is made.

but i have to admit it'd be awful nice if the things i own weren't created by people who desperately wished they could be doing something else. it kinda blows the creative karma.

Jess Wundrun said...

fran I know exactly what little device you are talking about. We had one too, and I tried to find one on-line but what exactly, would be the proper google search? 'orange sucky-thing?'

Dr. Z even at the grocery store? sad. Are you shopping at the mexican tienda?

sorghum crow thanks for the tip. I thought everything at W@lmart was made in the USA. Oh, yeah....

dguzman thanks!

commander other the American economy theoretically profits from the shit no matter where the shit is made. This is one of the things I've been feeling lately. It's true that corporations are really not about national pride. It's another reason why when Bush/Cheney sport their little lapel pins I practically toss my lunch. As our first "mba administration" they care less for what goes on in our borders than just about anyone.

fairlane said...

I recently purchased some colored pencils that were made in the US, but they cost a bloody fortune.

Anonymous said...

National Presto, of Wausau, Wisconsin, made kitchen and household products in the US for about 100 years. But the competition began killing Presto, so it switched its manufacturing to other countries, including China and Mexico, I believe.

Meanwhile, it added adult diapers and military munitions to its product mix.

As for products made in the USA, well, the list is extraordinarily long. A list of products NOT made in the US is much shorter.

Moreover, Americans import many luxury items -- in virtually every product category.

Furthermore, buying products through domestic venues leads to paychecks for domestic employees. Thus, shopping at Costco, WalMart, Best-Buy, Circuit City, or the Toyota dealer puts money in the pockets of American taxpayers.

Suzy said...

Great post. I know where you can buy some sweet little eye pillows, made right here in Madison, Wisconsin. Would Ben like a couple of those?

The folk singer Pat Humphries sings a song called "Buy This American Car" about how all the components of the "US Made" stuff were made overseas (and that was kind of a redneck thing in the eighties and nineties, wasn't it -- Buy American. How the pendulum swings, and now it's the leftie thing to do.)