November 21, 2011 in Features

Do Your Part: When possible, buy American

Terri Bennett McClatchy Newspapers
 

You can’t escape the angst Americans are feeling about the state of the economy and our job market. Some people blame Republicans, some blame Democrats, and some are taking their discontent straight to the streets.

As a person who sees situations through a “green” lens, I offer another alternative: Do your part and buy American-made products. It takes a little work but every purchase will help keep and create jobs right here at home.

When we go shopping, how often do we really take the time to check where the product is made?

If we are shopping for clothes, we may check the fashion and the fit. If we are shopping for home goods, we may just look at the price tag. The toys we buy may simply be the ones our kids see on commercials between cartoons.

I challenge you to do more digging to find out where these products come from and pledge to buy American-made as often as you can. I challenged myself to do the same with even the smallest of items.

The company T-shirts that the Do Your Part team and I wear are a good example. We could have chosen the cheapest shirts, or the perfect color but instead our decision was carefully sourced.

The fabric was made from organic cotton grown in Texas. The shirts are crafted in California, and then silk screened with safe dyes in Tennessee.

The same can’t be said for most of the clothes and shoes Americans wear. The majority of the textiles we buy come from China, where we don’t know how they are manufactured, where exactly the destructive dyes used to make them end up, what the labor regulations are – and I haven’t even touched on the resources devoted to transporting these goods to the United States.

The same goes for toys. By far, the bulk of the toys made on this planet are actually made in China. We’ve all heard of toxic materials found in the certain toys we buy from China. And while those products are often cheaper, the health and environmental costs are just too high to ignore.

So what can you do to buy products made in America? For starters, check out the label. If the label states that the product was “Made in the USA,” nearly every bit of it must be made in America and can only contain a negligible amount of foreign made materials.

Remember, most of the goods we buy in this country are actually made here except when it comes to shoes and clothing and toys. You can find a number of resources to help you track down products that are 100 percent American made at www.DoYourPart.com/ Columns.

The bottom line is that you must become an educated consumer. It’s worth your time to take the time to find out where all your stuff comes from today. It’s an important way to Do Your Part for our economy, our people and the planet.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, author and founder of DoYourPart, everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com and follow DoYourPart on Facebook and Twitter.


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