By: Tammy Kulpa
Before you read this, I'd like to do a quick exercise. Put your phone down or walk away from your computer and grab any 5 items that are the closest to you. They can be anything- clothing, food, your kid's toys, anything.
Have your 5 items? Great, now check the label and see where they were made. Here's what I grabbed from around my office-
1.) Nalgene water bottle- made in USA
2.) Otterbox phone case- made in Mexico
3.) Giro bicycle helmet- made in China
4.) Bic ballpoint pen- made in Mexico
5.) Calculated Industries calculator- made in China
How did you do? Where are most of your items from? How does that make you feel?
My results make me feel ignorant and slightly taken advantage of. Two years ago, I made it my New Years' resolution to buy local whenever possible. While I feel great spending my money at the small local businesses on Main Street instead of at Walmart or Target, I still feel like there is something wrong.
I didn't really see the big picture until I began working for SOM at the start of this year. Yes it is important to buy local, but if you're buying products from China, Mexico and Vietnam, are you really supporting local businesses in the long run?
A couple of weeks ago, I finally sat down and watched the documentary Death By China on Netflix. Being in the "American made" industry, I felt pretty educated on the topic of international trade. That being said, Death By China was life changing for everyone in my household. This documentary will shock you, maybe even enrage you, and will definitely make it second nature for you to check the label on everything before you buy it.
A lot of people say that buying American made products is too hard. After all, nearly 60% of everything that we buy is made overseas. Luckily, "American made" is starting to make a comeback and there are plenty of resources out there to help you find what you are looking for. A 2012 survey by the Boston Consulting Group found that over 80% of Americans prefer to buy items made in America and are willing to pay more for them. We can support this research by talking to our customers, many of whom will tell us that they found our company by searching for "American made minimalist shoes" or "sneakers made in USA" on Google.
Now that you're more aware of the number of imported goods in our daily lives, it's time to make a change. According to ABC News, if everyone spent just $3.33 more on American made products each year, it would create almost 10,000 new jobs here in the USA. Get out there and vote with your wallet! Always check the label before making a purchase and ask your local business owners to carry more products made in the USA.