According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 6 million U.S. jobs were lost between 2000 and 2010. More likely than not, someone you know has lost their job in the last few years due to manufacturers sending jobs to other countries in order to maximize their profits. Lower and middle class Americans are suffering, but we have the power to turn things around. “Made-in-USA” is in the middle of a comeback as people want to make a positive difference and support our country’s economy. There are many reasons why purchasing made in USA products helps all of us, and there are many reasons to make that choice every day.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint
Through receiving products as part of my job as General Merchandise Buyer, I have become more aware of how much material and energy it takes to wrap and ship products. It’s not uncommon for a product to have parts manufactured in multiple countries. When something is labeled “USA Made,” we can be assured that all of its parts were produced within our country and not shipped overseas before consumption. It can be puzzling that products available to the U.S. consumer, produced thousands of miles away in other countries, still tend to cost less than products made here at home. When we look at the economics of it, we see that companies are trading manufacturing costs for transportation costs. For instance, a New York Times article noted that Norwegian cod costs a manufacturer $1.36 a pound to process in Europe, but only 23 cents a pound in Asia. The trouble is, moving food around the world comes at an environmental cost that seems unnecessary—at times even silly. Oxford economist Paul Watkiss points out that Britain exports 20 tons of bottled water every year to Australia, but also imports 20 tons of bottled water from Australia. That’s just burning fuel and creating pollution. Choosing to buy products that have stayed inside our country helps limit that environmental impact.
Respecting the Workers and Enhancing Quality of Life: Sustainability for Them and Us
Why do USA-made products tend to cost more than comparable products produced halfway around the world? What are those manufacturing costs that companies avoid by shipping goods overseas? Often, it’s the cost of labor. Many countries produce products for the richest U.S. corporations that are then sold in our country at low (perhaps unrealistically affordable) prices. Workers in other countries are often not given the opportunities of fair living wages and safe working conditions.
Some business owners admirably choose to take a different approach and distribute the wealth of their profit evenly to their workers. David Gould of Sunbeam Candles is one of the many business owners we work with who sees the advantages of keeping his employees satisfied. His employees have the opportunity to offer input on company decisions and are paid a fair living wage including paid full health benefits. David and his company respect the balance between life and work. As a result Sunbeam produces extremely high quality products. I thoroughly enjoy their candles and our sales show our Owners do as well. Talking with business owners like David, who the Co-op purchases from, makes me feel like we are supporting people who really care about the impact of their work. They are real people invested in their community and the global community as a whole. They see their potential to make a positive impact by providing enriching jobs and by empowering communities.
Supporting Our Local Economy
When manufacturing is outsourced to other counties and jobs are lost here at home, our buying power decreases. When Americans purchase more USA-made products, the demand for them increases. This will increase not only manufacturing jobs but also jobs in engineering, construction, and so on. When more jobs are created here, everyone benefits—on the individual level and on the community level. When I asked friends, family and co-workers why they choose to purchase products made in the USA, they all said they like to keep their money in our community and support our economy. It’s heartening to see Americans recognizing they can make a difference with their buying power. I love knowing that my hard-earned money is enhancing the quality of life for people around me.
Doing Our Part
We do our best at the Co-op to support companies who make products in the USA. Although some things, such as stainless steel, are quite difficult to find made here because of the high manufacturing costs in our country, we try to offer a variety of useful and quality products to make you feel that you’ve spent your well-earned dollars wisely. When possible, buying Made-in-USA products continues to be a priority for our business.
There are some incredibly well-made, durable products manufactured in our country. With the holiday season approaching, you may want to consider gifting some of the general merchandise products we carry here at the Co-op that are Made-in-USA.
- Sunbeam Candles (a variety of soy and/or beeswax candles made with essential oils)
- Juniper Ridge (incense and smudge sticks made with care in Berkeley from plants harvested in the Pacific Northwest)
- Crafted in the Woods (soy candles in glass jars available in a variety of scents)
- Avonlea (smudge sticks made with care in northern Wisconsin)
- Sugar River Pottery (serving/mixing bowls and pie dishes)
- Midwest Clay Project (mugs and planters handmade right on Willy Street)
- Jackie Matelski Pottery (locally made pottery available in a variety of service ware)
- Crow Pottery (handmade plates and bowls and Willy Street Co-op mugs)
- Jewell Hollow Woodcraft (hand-cut cutting boards and coasters - see cutting board below)
- Planetwise (travel bags, wet bags, sandwich/snack bags and reusable wipes)
- Michael Roger (decomposition journals and cork journals made using bio-gas, printed with soy ink and 100% post-consumer-waste recycled pages)
- Preserve (cutting boards, storage containers and picnic ware made from recycled yogurt containers)
- Indigo Wild (candles made with essential oils)
- Peepwool (hats made from recycled sweaters)
- Wisconsin Driftless Alpaca (100% Wisconsin alpaca boot, slipper and trekker socks)
- Rockin’ Socks (a variety of ankle, knee-high, over the knee and wrist warmers)
- Chemex (glass coffee makers and filters)
- Organic Threads (organic socks)
- Maggies (organic socks in solid colors and tye die for infants, children and adults)
- Cuppow (mason jar travel lids and BNTO lunch box adapter)
- Glob (paint kits and brushes)
- Locally Grown Clothing (onsies, and t-shirts for children and adults)
- Re-play (recycled plates, bowls sippy cups and utensils)
- Purple Cow (compost and potting soil)
- West Star Farm (compost and potting soil)
- Dramm (watering cans available in a rainbow of colors)
- CobraHead (garden weeder)
- Seed Savers (organic plant seeds)
- Fat Tomato (pot holders and oven mitts made from recycled materials; see below)
- Anchor Hocking (storage glassware with BPA-free lids and wine glasses)
- Toddy Coldbrew System (iced coffee brewing system)
- Mary’s Softdough (play dough)
- Artterro (creativity kits and journals)
- Spoil Yourself (flax sacks and ocular eye pillows)
- Nancy Peeters (hand crocheted spiral dishcloths)
- Baraka (ceramic neti pots, aroma burners and salt jars)
- Stephanie Funck (hand-knit dishcloths/face towels)
- Sunleaf Naturals (essential oil diffusers)
- Easy Sprout (seed sprouter)
- Mr. Naturals (hemp coffee and tea filters)
- Jade Yoga Mats (natural rubber yoga mats)
- Eclectic Earth and Imagine Earrings (earrings made from recycled materials; see below)
- New Wave Enviro (glass gallon and half-gallon bottles)
- Tattler (reusable canning lids)
- Acorn Designs (journals made with recycled papers and vegetable-based inks)
Nutrition Bars in Wellness Moving to Grocery
by Kathy Kemnitz, Wellness Manager–East
You may have read in September’s Reader that the protein bars that currently live in the Wellness department had moved to the Grocery department at Willy West and that soon they would be doing the same at Willy East. We have decided to delay this move until January to be able to better communicate this move with you.
Why move bars anyway?
Our Co-op is one of the last co-op grocery stores we can find that has bars in two places. Historically, bars were categorized separately because some have nutritional additives, almost classifying them as a supplement. Generally, that’s not the way most people may shop for bars. For example, Kind brand bars have two lines, one has nutritional additives (Kind Plus), one does not. When you, our shopper, are looking for that one Kind bar you got on your vacation in Colorado, you are probably not going to know that there are Kind bars in two different aisles in our store, it’s just not a logical thought. More often, I think people just want to have a snack, and being able to choose from all bars—be it macro, raw, protein, chocolate-covered or green—just plain makes sense that they all be in one spot.
Why are we telling you?
Usually when we move things in the store (or our fancy industry term, “do a reset”), we don’t write an article, so what makes this so special? Currently the bars that live in the Wellness aisle qualify for the Wellness Wednesday 10% off discount; once they move to Grocery, they will not. They will still go on sale from time to time, and we predict that there will be little if any price changes, but for some of you this may be a bigger deal than to others. We want you to have the ability to get in a few more Wellness Wednesdays to stock up on your favorites. November, December and January will be the last opportunities for you to purchase bars currently found in Wellness at the 10% off Wellness Wednesday discount.
What can we do to help?
We of course want you to be happy and to help you stay stocked up on your favorites with a sweet price. Once the bars move to Grocery, the everyday price of bar cases on the shelf will be 10% lower (similar to the alternative milk cases) than buying an individual bar. This new offering will eliminate the Co-op’s special case ordering discount from cases of bars that are available in the store.