After watching the ABC special on made in America products, it was a challenge to myself over the past week to identify a top three list of eco-friendly, stylish items that are both beautiful and affordable. Plus, all these items had to be made in America. Home-related items that are both functional and innovative... and due to the economy, less expensive than a competitor's. These small, innovative firms are showing that job creation, manufacturing pride and technological innovation will allow U.S.-based companies to win the battle to survive in this challenging economy.
U.S. jobs will come from manufacturing
Many people think only about price when making a purchase. They should also think about where an item is manufactured... not only for the carbon footprint, but also to keep people employed in the United States. For the longest time, a factory job was an opportunity to step into the middle class -- and to ensure opportunities for the next generation. In the past twenty years, we have let many manufacturing jobs slip away -- and the knowledge base is not being passed down -- thus crippling our ability to preserve the manufacturing sector.
We must begin a return to a somewhat ethnocentric view of purchasing items that are made in the USA, if only to preserve jobs and skills. But, the manufacturers must also continue their emphasis on quality -- and remain focused on being price conscious as well... this is the only way to ensure that the manufacturing sector begins its rebound.
How do you support a U.S.-based firm?
So many people want to support U.S.-based companies, but it is a challenge to find hidden gems. Often, these companies have been hit by the economic downturn and have limited marketing funds. So, hopefully this list will create an opportunity to support a few firms this summer season, when your attention may be focused on the boat or beach...
Please keep these companies on your radar -- and support them with your purchasing power!
Top 3 list of summer lifestyle items
- MelanSol Sunscreen uses ingredients that we can all pronounce and is chemical-free, with UVA/UVB sunburn protection that can be used on your face.
- Bras by Amoena is the first temperature control lingerie garment that uses NASA based micro-capsulate wicking fabric to prevent perspiration in cleavage and underarm areas.
- Fashionable Note Totes takes an old concept and morphs it into a fashion statement with quotes on the side such as "green is the new black."
Top 3 list of kitchen products
- All Clad Pots & Pans are made in a Pennsylvania factory that buys all its metal from U.S. suppliers and has been around since 1960 -- and is sold at most retailers.
- Holiday Kitchens* is a custom cabinetry firm based in Wisconsin since 1947. Ten years ago, they began "green" practices, such as reuse of sawdust and wood chunks, plus a major investment in technology to maximize use of cutting surfaces. Today, architects and designers are specifying their products because of the lifetime warranty.
- Viking Stoves are made in Mississippi since 1987 and are considered one of the best stoves in the residential and commercial market for durability and reliability.
Top 3 list of furniture finds
- Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is based in North Carolina and has been in business since 1989. They manufacture their products sustainably and do not use any formaldehyde-based glues or adhesives in their products.
- GatCreek Furniture is based in West Virginia and employs over 175 millworkers. The team builds each custom piece individually for a new owner, and the artisan signs the piece upon completion. The firm has been around since the 1960s.
- Mohawk Rugs was founded in 1878 and is based in Georgia. A as one of the largest rug and wood flooring manufacturers in the country, it tries to stay on the cutting edge of innovation -- with a line of rugs made of recycled bottles.
In summary, there are hundreds of U.S.-based manufacturing firms and it is time for a list or awards program to increase consumer awareness...hmmm -- that is a good idea! As an eco-designer focused on wellness in the home, it is also important to say that most U.S.-based manufacturing firms adhere to rigorous testing criteria, environmental standards and sustainability programs that lift them to the next level in their stewardship of our environment.
Please try to focus a few of your dollars and web clicks on these U.S. based manufacturers.
*disclosure: Robin Wilson is a spokesperson for Holiday Kitchens.