Tag Archives: not made in china

If you’re gonna put a US flag or state on it, then please, make it here.

Nothing drives a “not made in China shopper” crazier than souvenirs and patriotic merchandise made in China. (That is if the shopper in question is not in China shopping for these things, but in for example Texas.)

At a recent shopping outing at HomeGoods (just browsing!), my friend and I ran into this:

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Texas state pride – made in China.

First let me say this, there are things that people buy that kind of have to be imported, sometimes for very good reasons. One example I can think of right now is bamboo. Bamboo is a sustainably harvested plant, very often grown in China and East Asia. It’s durable in use, considered eco-friendly, but doesn’t grow here.

As for the Texas wall art, there is no excuse. Let’s take a second to note what it is made of, namely, some sort of wood, stain and white paint. Hmm, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen these materials in Texas before!

The sad thing is that some proud Texan will fall in love with this simple painting (not sure what to call it really), take it home, hang it and feel good about it. Probably never reading the tag that says made in China on the back.

So, shoppers, read the tag and refuse local pride made overseas!

And makers, if you’re gonna put a US flag or state on it, then please, make it here.

At the end of the day, this is why we need to stop trade agreements like the TPP, folks! What a waste it is to import items we already have (wood, stain, paint, cardboard) all while outsourcing labor and adding polluting transport to our oceans. It should never make economic sense to do so.

Read my take on the TPP (Transpacific Partnership) here and add your name to the petition to stop it here. Right now it looks like there won’t be a vote on the TPP this year, which is great (!), but we still need to campaign against it.

Challenge 1.1: 12 pieces – 12 months!

It’s already February (time flies!) and it feels almost like cheating now that the not made in China challenge is so easy. I decided that it’s time to ramp up and add another challenge to my journey towards sustainable shopping!

For 2016 I’ve decided to only buy a maximum of one new item per month for myself! By item I mean something “nice to have” like clothes, shoes, bling, bags, scarfs. Not included are beauty products, food, drinks, any items needed in a natural disaster, if my pants rip while on a business trip and I need new ones, and such unfortunate circumstances resulting in shopping.

I have seen eco-people on Instagram announce their “only second hand shopping all year” and “no clothes for 6 months” challenges (y’all are awesome!) and I was playing with the idea of doing a no shopping year, but I don’t think I really want that. When I find a cool brand that fits my bill, it actually brings me great joy to support it – and then blog! (Second-hand shopping will be my loop-hole; see, this challenge might help me get better at thrifting.)

For the “12 pieces – 12 months challenge” the following are my goals, or rules if you will:

1. First, I want to only shop from local businesses, small brands and mom and pop shops. That can be online or resale, any type of store where my money gets pumped straight into someone’s small business, not into a corporate mega-giant’s bank account. (No more Nordstrom Rack for me.)

2. Only support brands with a proper environmental policy. Are they doing something I admire? Are they handling waste, dyes, materials and energy properly?

3. Of course only shop ethical, fair-trade, non sweat-shop items.

4. Made in USA!! Thats always on the list. We do have a Europe trip planned, in which I will opt for made in Europe, naturally, if we go shopping. (Maybe some organic Nudie Jeans for me and hubs?)

5. Look for organic cotton, recycled materials, plant based dyes, zero waste manufacturing processes. You know that little extra eco-awareness.

So far I am on track with only one purchase so far (January – check) which I will blog next week!

This is the not made in China challenge version 1.1. Hopefully no bugs will need correcting in a 1.2 version.

What’s your challenges and goals for the year of 2016? Are you making changes to your shopping and living habits? Tell me!

In a world of apps; my memories are still handwritten

I bet you didn’t know that USA organizers, calendars and day-planners are made in China – did you?

As an eco-girl I should be using some kind of “app-planner”, but I just don’t want to! I love lying in bed before sleep, writing some notes on what happened to me during the day, without the glare of a screen. My planners never end up in landfill though, I keep them all, and sometimes I go back and remember a random Wednesday from two years ago; maybe we saw a movie, went swimming or had delicious spaghetti.

plannerThat being said, the paper industry is a big polluter. You can read all about it on Wikipedia, it does not paint a pretty picture.

USA has hundreds of paper mills… yet we can’t seem to find the resources among the 100,000,000’s of tons of paper and paperboard they produce to make planners? I guess not; since all of the planners I saw at Barnes & Noble, except two, were made in China. The two best options were bound here, but the paper may still be imported! How can that be a better business case than using paper made here? – I wonder.

My choice was between Quo Vadis and Gallery Leather; both bound in USA. I picked Gallery Leather since the size was just right, had a weekly planner (best layout for me) and there was one in salmon color screaming my name (Hubby said “oh, that’s soo you!”). Researching it more, Quo Vadis would have been a better eco-choice as they are committed to materials from certified sustainable forests, no bleaching, water recycling, 100% controlled sourcing – to name a few environmental initiatives they have taken. At least the leather cover of my planner is handcrafted in Maine, I like that.

At the end of day, a planner can be made “here”, but with like many other paper products; hardly ever made “right”…

I still enjoy my planners! The little things you do every day are the things to cherish down the line; it’s nice to have a place to keep them, handwritten.

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We all just need a bit of inspiration and the guts to shop differently

When I first started the not made in China challenge January 2014, I had to re-think my entire shopping pattern. My husband and I were both frequent shoppers at Banana Republic, J.Crew and Coach. I bought my occasional pair of shoes (Michael Kors’ heels and Keds being favorites) at DSW. I came to realize, quickly, that all these stores and brands were practically off limits. At the very beginning, I bought my Juicy Couture soft grey sweats on sale and I thought I would run into more affordable clothes made in USA. Well, at the mall, you just don’t, and so for a long time; I didn’t buy anything at all.

I started to reinvent some of the outfits I already had, but I was still a bit uninspired and tired, though very determined to not give up. Obvious US choices like American Apparel and designer dresses and jeans were a no-go as well, for style or price reasons. Then it happened: I ran into that Richter Co. tee at Whole Earth Provision, and started wondering if there were endless, small American brands yet to be discovered. I started to search online, look in new stores and scavenge the racks (which has always scared me a little – too messy!). Bit by bit, piece by piece, rack by rack – I have become a made in America shopper. I say America and not USA because when it comes to sexy shoes, yes, I need to include South America.

My friend and I have been talking a lot about this topic, and I presented her with the idea to make a LookBook. In other words, make a photo collection of the clothes I have found and bought on this challenge and present them in a stylish way, in order to inspire others to go look for made right here. As a blogger I have a lot of words and as a photographer she has lots of talent, technique and cool spots to pick from, so we headed out to the country side.

One hour, 101 degrees, a few bugs and an exhausted reflector girl later, we had more photos than we would ever need for this project.

Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap
Made in USA top, Made in USA sweats, Made in USA bottle, Made in USA arm wrap

I am so thankful to have friends who inspire me, and whom I get to inspire in return. Does she shop made in China anymore? Very rarely! Did she return an expensive, online purchase when she saw the tag? Yes, she did! (See, I am saving her money ;))

Check out the results and get more information about the clothes on my new page LookBook! (I also had a few photos/outfits from before) My plan is to keep adding to it, whenever I have a new outfit to show. Hopefully, there’ll be enough good stuff for a fall shoot later on! (Can’t wait! Another chance to play model!)

If you want to be inspired by beautiful people, laughing children, posing dogs and killer locations, head on over to Shutterluv by Ashley, and like her on Facebook.

That’s a wrap people!!

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My new best friend is saving the planet, straw by straw

You know, I didn’t want to buy a new reusable water bottle for myself, despite the fact that the cup I had been using had a huge crack in it. I was in super-sustainable-mode when my husband suggested it. But this one was cute, lilac and made in USA (of US and European parts) so I let him buy it for me. Introducing the Life Factory 16 Oz bottle – my new companion.

Picture1Most of us love drinking from a straw, right? So, cups with straws are nice for that reason (think “cold beverage Starbucks cup”), compared to a regular bottle you just open and drink from, but the big drawback is that they will spill if they get to ride the purse, or if you turn them upside down trying to carry groceries, lifting things… I hate that. THIS one on the other hand, combines the awesomeness of drinking from a straw and the convenience of having a no-spill container with its straw cap. And it has a little handle to carry it in (cute!). Another cool thing is that there are no BPA/BPS or phthalates since it is made of glass (water tastes delicious).

So now, this little guy gets to go everywhere with me.

A very fantastic part about this country in general, is that diners, fast food places and coffee shops alike will give you water for free with your meal or coffee. And when I say “I brought my own cup” everyone’s like “ok”. Can you imagine how many plastic straws, cups, lids and wrappers could be saved if more people were doing this?! I am not embarrassed to bring my own at all. I am proud and I love that I get to save cups from going to landfills every day. Every day, folks!

LifeFactory Bottle

And if you are one of those people that walk around your OWN house drinking bottled water from the grocery store, shame on you. That water was bottled, wrapped in plastic and trucked several hundred miles. Evian and Fiji water were imported on a ship! All that energy lost – for water. Even if you put the plastic bottle in the recycling bin, guess what, recycling something takes energy too, and plastic has limited recyclability.

Come on, join the revolution. A reusable water bottle is the coolest thing you can carry. Eco-friendly is so freaking cool.

How my dad ended up on the blog… and why he is rocking it

When my dad first heard about me blogging, his first question was not “why?” but “are there any pictures of me on it?” Erm, no dad, it’s about eco-living, product origin and shopping consciously.

But come to think of it, he is right, he does deserve to be on the blog! Why? Because he is an excellent role model for sustainability.

He never buys anything he doesn’t need, rarely shops for clothes, buys good quality items so he rarely needs to replace anything, gives us gifts we want and need, eats mostly organic and locally grown foods (his wife helps on that part), recycles everything, reuses his coffee mug over and over (the so called dish-saving-program that sometimes drives us a little crazy), and always bikes to work; rain or shine.

It so happens, that he has just gotten a new t-shirt which is perfect for his first blog photo. (A gift from my sister – he did NOT go shopping.) It has glasses and a mustache, just like him. So he gets to be on the blog in a not made in China, but El Salvador, t-shirt. It’s looking pretty cool, I must say.

Go dad!

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EXPRESS yourself & show off your legs (leggings)!

Last week, by chance, I read the tag of my 2009 Opaque Ankle Tights from Express for the first time: Made in USA. I thought; “Really? Cool!” (And notice how I just wrote 2009?! Yes, I’ve had them for a while!)

I decided to look into it some more and pulled out all my tights and stockings, which I always buy at Express, for their great fit, to investigate. The full length body shaping tights are made in USA as well, and the other few styles, all patterned black stockings for festive occasions, are made in Italy. How exciting for a not made in China shopper!

IMG_5307A quick visit to the store (and the online shop); I am happy to say they still offer the American made tights! Hurray. Maybe I should buy another few pairs just in case the ankle ones don’t make it to 7 years… 7 year crisis – isn’t that a thing? Two pairs made right here, obviously excellent quality, for $24 – that’s a pretty good deal.

After further tag surfing in the store, I found the spilt is about 50/50 between made in USA and made in Italy. (Tights and stockings only, socks are China imports.)

Express, you’ve surprised me, and I like it. No reason, what so ever, to go anywhere else! Ever!express

I’m hooked on these utility hooks!

Just in time before the weather turns drop dead hot and all the mosquitos south of Maine come to spend their summer (dining) in Houston, we had a chance to tidy up a bit in the yard. Among other things, we hung our ladder, a bike and a few cords in the shed.

How did we do it? The Elfa system! Mostly made in Europe, this is a great option to the made in China selections at Lowes and Home Depot, which for me is a no-can-do.

You may have already noticed that Elfa has completely taken over the smart storage section of the Container Store. Well, it is actually owned by said American chain since 1999, but headquarters are still in Sweden. I will admit that the Container Store people always attack us when we browse, trying to sell us all the smart and awesome Elfa stuff. It’s so tempting! Good thing is, as long as you don’t need (or fall for) the full walk in closet re-model, it’s just as affordable as the next well-made utility hangers and hooks.

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The hooks we bought ($14.99) are made in Poland and the quality, size and functionality is superb! They were very easy to mount and came with the needed screws. (The ladder is an extension ladder by Verner, made in our backyard, Mexico.)

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I’m super excited about the not made in China tidiness. Not so much about the mosquitos to come.

An affordable belt made in USA? Consider it handled.

Nothing thrills me more than when friends, family and coworkers ask for my opinion. I love when they do, because frankly, I am one opinionated gal. So, when the resident funny guy at work asked me to help him find a well-made, American belt, I jumped on it. Let’s do this!

It was actually not hard at all for an experienced “not made in China shopper” like myself to find him something. First site I liked was Bull Hide Belts dot com. He was looking for a black, simple belt for the office, since his Chinese JoS. A. Bank belt was falling apart after he’d been wearing it less than a year.

Here’s what we like about the Bull Hide Belts:

  • Handcrafted in USA from US leather
  • Customizable (buckles, sizes, stitching)
  • Three year warranty
  • Affordable!

craigs belt

The made in China belt cost him about 50 dollars, now he ended up spending about 75 for one made right here. Come on, that’s a no brainer! The quality looks solid. It’s a little stiff right now, since it’s only a few months old, but we are sure that wearing it for a long time (which is the plan) will soften it up.

We make a good team. The two of us even won an award for best supplier recently from one of our customers. He knows where we need to go, and I am like the Olivia Pope of this office (no kidding) and apparently of the shopping too. Consider it handled.

 

Money is everything – it isn’t how you play the game

Friday fun at our house: Watching a marathon of awesome documentaries (Fed-up, Park Avenue, Pump) which lead me to think a lot about money this weekend.

Money is the single, most powerful tool in this world, and in this country. Money rules the Senate. Money rules the House of Representatives. Money rules the President (I bet he made a nice bonus last week announcing that he will allow drilling in the arctic). Whoever invests the most money gets their bills passed.

It so happens that some of the nastiest people in this country have billions of dollars. Like the Koch Brothers. They are in oil. And yes, they fight environmental regulations and, yes, they push their own agendas thru cover organizations, bills and by buying politicians (mostly Republicans!). They know that money means power and that lots of money means lots of power. So they use it for their own benefit, like pushing for bills that gives tax breaks to themselves and the investment bankers, because that’s the kind of stuff oil tycoons looove (“I love it bro’ ”. “OMG, me too”).

What consumers seem to forget is that collectively, we have power too. We have more power in our wallets than we can ever obtain by voting.

In order to make things better and shift the power, we have to play the same game they’re playing, where money is everything. Together we have the power to bring large corporations out of business (bye, bye Wal-Mart), and the power to help ethical, green, local businesses grow. That’s pretty cool, when you think about it! Right?

What you buy is your political stance and ultimately your “vote”. Don’t just sit back and say you can’t change things, because that is not true. Here are some examples.

  1. When you buy American made goods – your vote says that you don’t approve of sending work overseas.
  2. When you buy all natural bath, body and cleaning products – you’re telling the manufacturers that it’s unacceptable to add parabens, petrochemicals and other toxins to these products.
  3. When you buy organic produce – you help support organic farms and clearly stat that you won’t accept chemical pesticides and GMOs in the food that your family eats.
  4. When you buy local – you vote for strengthening your own community.
  5. When you say no to Coca-cola and Pepsi – you tell the marketplace that you don’t accept highly processed sugars being added to your drinks.

The list goes on (and on, and on).

If we already know that the political game is corrupted by wealth, isn’t it time we all started playing? We may not like the game, but we can still be the winning players.

Start using your power this week! Put that processed food back on the shelf and leave that made in China sweater on the rack.

Be the change.