My son wanted a new baseball glove last week so off we went to try and find one. We went to the evil empire, Walmart. No luck. Then we went to Canadian Tire and did find one that he liked. Here’s the thing; not one glove we looked at was made in North America.

Now I am sure that these gloves are well made but I am becoming increasingly concerned about the conditions they are being made in. Are the workers being paid a fair wage? Is the leather being cultivated in an ethical way? And so on.

It seems to be almost impossible to find ANYTHING made in Canada or the United States anymore. And that is a real shame. My parents have an old electric knife that is still in use for carving the turkey. Made in Canada!

And what about the clothes we wear. The United States imported about 17 billion dollars worth of t-shirts last year alone! And most of these shirts are produced in sweat shops where the workers are child laborers. Not cool.

I actually want to spend my money on quality items that will last. I want to buy goods that are made here in Canada or if need be the United States. I want to know that the goods were produced in an ethical manner.

And what about all the computers, laptops, smartphones, and music devices that use rare earth metals. Companies are raping the environment to find these rare elements. From what I read Apple is one of the worst offenders, but I am sure all companies are bad.

Hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius are in the same category. We are led to believe that buying a hybrid makes us a better person but I suspect that the materials used in making this car make it LESS friendly to the environment than a regular vehicle. Not that any car is good for the environment.

How do I shop for ethically produced goods?

I need to realize that a t-shirt will cost more than 5.00$, a dress needs to cost more than $20 for it to be made under safe and sustainable conditions. Low prices are the result of discrete policy decisions undertaken over the last decades by the U.S. government and the W.T.O. to favor outsourcing to countries that lack environmental protections and basic labor laws. A $20 dress represents both a tremendous waste of resources and the mistreatment of garment workers, who are overwhelmingly young women.

I need to go the smaller specialty shops and ask where and how the goods are made.

I need to check the labels to see if the say Fair Trade, Sweatshop Free, or Organic.

I can search out ethical companies online.

These are just a few of the things that can be done to help make more ethical choices when purchasing goods. Now of course my minimalist lifestyle says that I am not going to be out shopping but if I do I want to spend my money wisely and in an ethical fashion.

So I am sure some of you feel the same way about how you spend your money. Maybe you know of some great resources for ethical shopping. If you do please share your tips with us.

Please share this post.

Live simply.

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9 thoughts on “Made in … Where IS it Made?

  1. I know there is lots of controversy over Fracking, but we have lots of natural gas in North America. I have thought about getting a car that runs on CNG but there are few models and they cost about US$5K more.

    I am concerned with fracking and the BS the natural gas industry spews on TV ads. But, if we can supply ourselves with enough CNG to run our cars, trucks buses on, we support local jobs and it is cleaner. T Boone Pickens is all for this, so I am naturally skeptical even though it does makes sense to me. Don’t trust that guy since he torpedoed Sen Kerry’s run for President.
    BTW – I buy New Balance running shoes as they are made in Massachusetts. Only some models, so you have to check. I love the idea of supporting someone’s family that probably lives less than 20 miles from mine!
    Love your blog. Andy

  2. I have been going through the same issues. I tend to buy most of my clothes from a consignment shop telling myself that at least I am keeping the clothes from going to the landfills. My underclothes I buy online from smaller business that makes them from organic cotton.
    I live in the US and grew up with most everything we owned being made right in my own country. What happened? People could still make TVs and radios, cookware, and so on. We used to take a trip to New York to see the Corning Glass being made and purchased all glass storage pieces for food. The only large company still making plates and such in the US to my knowledge is Fiestaware. I bought my plates and bowls from a local potter rather than have buy items shipped in.

    I live pretty simply so the largest part of my income goes to food. I grow some of my own and buy the rest in season from farmer’s markets.

      1. How well I know. General Electric had a huge plant in my hometown. Many relatives worked there and we were expected to buy products made by GE. Then GE began downsizing the amount of things they made here and shipped it almost all overseas. I don’t think they make some of what they used to like refrigerators and such. It’s just a shame as a result of all this my hometown is struggling to stay afloat. The only jobs left are pretty much in the service sector with all these abandoned factories sitting around or being torn down leaving empty lots.

  3. It’s really relevant that I read this article today. Yesterday I watched the Story of Stuff movie, (http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-stuff/) and it really made me want to STOP buying things from the shops!!!! I am going to make a commitment to buy second hand goods wherever possible, and grow my own plants, and buying local. Too much abuse taken from developing countries.

    This other video really moved me too (anger, sadness) and again links its relevance to abusing the developing countries so we can live as ‘cheaply’ as possible: http://www.ted.com/talks/lisa_kristine_glimpses_of_modern_day_slavery.html

    1. Hey I watched the Story of Stuff movie as well. I have it on another post so I didn’t want to add it again. Very eye opening isn’t it?

      I would love to just have my own plot and be self sufficient.

      I will be sure to check out the other link.

      Thanks

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