Unless you live in a nudist colony, you’ll likely need clothes to make it in America. If you’ve been following along with our “Made in America” series, you’ll know that we’ve already covered American-made forms of transportation, including shoes, home decor and appliances made in the U.S.A., the all-American home, home-grown food and energy, and even American-made vices like alcohol and tobacco. We haven’t forgotten about clothing, which is one of the hardest things to find with “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag. Chances are slim what you’re wearing now has “Made in the U.S.A.” on the tag.
Clothing keeps us warm, dry and covered, but if Americans made all the clothing purchased in the world, no one would be able to afford it. That’s why it’s so common to find clothes made in Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and, of course, China.
The American clothing market is the largest in the world, totalling $359 billion in 2016, which is why it’s so important to keep those dollars here in America. Employment has nearly doubled in apparel manufacturing, textiles and clothing since 1990, because with more people comes more clothes. But just 1.8 million Americans are employed in the fashion industry, with 79 percent of them working for apparel retailers mostly selling imported products. Just 232,000 are employed to manufacture textiles for apparel and other fashion items (purses, handbags, backpacks, etc.).
In order to change the growing trend of outsourcing fashion and clothing manufacturing, more Americans need to buy more American clothes, and there’s plenty of places to start.
American-made men’s underwear is pretty easy to find. Brad Bennett at the Well Spent blog put together a nice list of American options. Keep in mind that just because a company has an American-sounding name, like Duluth Trading Company (mostly made in Vietnam, but they do have a “USA Made” section) or American Eagle (made in China, Guatemala, India, and Vietnam, with some made in America) doesn’t mean it’s products are all-American. Do your research. The only thing that touches American skin should be American-made.
There are plenty of options for American-made women’s underwear, too, including lingerie. HerRoom and HisRoom allows you to search multiple companies’ catalogs for American-made products. For a complete list of American-made underwear companies visit here.
During the spring, winter and autumn months, there’s no more important stitch of clothing than dry socks. I don’t wear socks for most of the summer unless it rains, but when it comes to keeping my feet warm and dry, I’m a wool man. Wool is the absolute best fabric ever, but the U.S. doesn’t produce much of it. If more people bought more wool, though, maybe it would make a comeback in America.
As I stated earlier, Duluth Trading Company makes some of its products in the U.S.A., and the most common item on their “USA Made” page is socks. If there’s a place that knows cold, it’s Minnesota, but if you’re looking for the best socks on the planet, I’d suggest Darn Tough socks. I recommend them because I have a friend from Vermont, where Darn Tough socks are made, who maintains trails in Glacier National Park, and he swears by them. If there’s an environment that requires darn tough socks, it’s Vermont. It’s the seventh coldest state in America and can be one of the wettest in the spring. Plus, Darn Tough socks are guaranteed for life, so if you manage to put a hole in them, you can return them for another pair. You’ll never buy socks again.
If you’re looking for more fashionable options for men and women, Fox River is the oldest performance sock brand out there. What started as a sock company for lumberjacks 116 years ago is now an all-purpose, sock supplier. They sent out a pair of their Peak Series Lightweight Multisport ankle socks for me to try, and except for them being a little long in the sole, they very comfortable for both the office and the bicycle commute. The "helix fit" as they call it provides volumetric compression around the foot between the ankle and toes. The mesh ventilation zones allow your feet to breathe, and the EverWear Durability Shield on the back of the sock above the heel is a neat feature that should prevent holes in the area that rubs against your shoe. For women’s socks visit here, and if you’re seeking hosiery, tights or leggings, No Nonsense provides an ample supply of American-made products for women. If you’re a man in need of dress socks, look no further than Dapper Classics, which also produces American-made shirts and ties for the office.
There is a plethora of men’s pants and shirts, women’s dresses and blouses, children’s clothes and even maternity wear made in America. The easiest thing you can do to find American-made options from your favorite retailers is enter “Made in the USA” in their catalog’s search bar. Most online stores like Nordstrom, Lulu’s and Orvis, understand the importance of catering to patriotic purchasers and have a dedicated page for American-made products. If you’re into sportswear, and specifically throwback baseball uniforms and caps, Ebbets Field Flannels is one of my new favorite American stores. There you can buy jerseys you didn't know existed.
USA Love List put together a great list of American-made outerwear for women recently, and if you’re a leather man, Schott NYC has everything from jackets, belts and boots made in America. Woolrich also provides a page of outdoorsy, clothing products made in the U.S.A. If you’re more into designer trends, The Good Trade put together a list of 15 American-made clothing brands that will turn heads, and GQ has a list of American clothing brands just for men. The most complete Made in America men’s wear list is likely this one by Gear Patrol. Here’s a recent list of more than 100 brands that produce 100 percent of their clothing in America.
So now you have no reason to purchase clothing that isn’t made in America other than cost, but wages in areas where clothes are made are increasing, while American wages remain stagnant, which means American-made clothing will at least be more competitive with imported clothing in the future. So don’t be the typical cheap American when it comes to clothing. I guarantee if you buy the brands listed above, you’ll get more life out of your clothing and more satisfaction for creating American jobs, too.
Next up in our “Made in America” series we’ll look at the best brands for recreation equipment, including guns and ammo, ATVs, tents, backpacks, sleeping bags and the like.
Americans consume. Whether it’s food, energy, cars, second homes or home furnishings, Americans consume most of the world’s supply. Americans waste 30 to 40 percent of our food supply. America also has an entire city dedicated to sin, so it felt wrong to leave out things Americans obviously don’t need but buy anyway, legal or otherwise. America was built on tobacco after all, and still is a leading producer of tobacco leaves, producing 766.6 million pounds in 2012.
While cigarette use is declining in the United States, e-cigarette use is way up. Disposable e-cigarette sales increased an incredible 320 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who would never consider smoking cigarettes smoke e-cigarettes instead. Smokeless tobacco sales were also up over the same period. Despite smoking-related illness costing the U.S. $300 billion each year, Americans were third in cigarette consumption globally (albeit a distant third to China).
The upside of using an addictive, cancer-causing product, if there is an upside, is If you’re buying cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in America, then you’re supporting an American company. It’s that easy. Virginia’s Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris and parent company of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, raised $25.43 billion of revenue in 2015. Vector Group, owner of Liggett, headquartered in Durham, N.C., raised $1.6 billion in 2014. Reynolds American, parent company of RJ Reynolds and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, makers of American Spirit cigarettes, raised $8.236 billion in 2013.
American-made e-cigarettes, however, are harder to find. White Cloud, ProVape and Hana Modz are apparently American, but ProVape has closed. If you’re going to smoke or vape, and I nor GCN Live advises you do, smoke or vape American.
Like Scotland and Scotch whisky, and France and champagne, America has places known for alcohol -- most notably bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. While the two are grouped together for international trade reasons, producers of Tennessee whiskey don’t label their product as bourbon, which is why I drink bourbon. I also drink “sparkling wine,” which is champagne made anywhere but France using the exact same method. I can’t afford Scotch.
Like tobacco, alcohol misuse costs Americans a pretty penny -- $249 billion in 2010 according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And Americans are consuming more alcohol than in the past, but aren’t in the top five as far as nations go.
It’s pretty easy to determine whether or not your alcoholic beverage is American-made. Just check the label. Thrillist ranked the top 25 American craft distilleries recently. A few of my favorites -- Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark -- are owned by Japanese company Suntory Holdings, Ltd. I know, it reminds me of Lost in Translation, too, and kind of makes me want to cry, but both are still made in Kentucky, with Maker’s Mark being the oldest operating bourbon distillery in the world.
Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice amongst Americans, though, accounting for 85 percent of the alcoholic beverage market. If you’re into microbrews, you’re pretty much in luck if you live in America. You’re not only drinking American, but shopping locally. All that money you spend goes right back into your community’s economy. There’s over 3,000 American breweries and over 2,500 American breweries on this map. You can find one near you here.
If you drink Budweiser, Busch or Miller beer, your money goes to Belgium. Anheuser-Busch owns Miller now. If you drink Coors, your money stays in the U.S. and Canada. If you drink Sam Adams, your money goes to Boston. If you drink Old Milwaukee or Pabst Blue Ribbon, your money goes to California.
Speaking of California, the American wine industry is buoyed by California’s Napa Valley, and 90 percent of all American wine comes from the West Coast. Again, figuring out if your wine is American-made is as easy as reading the label. Wineries aren’t shy about it. Constellation Brands, the largest wine company in the world, started in the Finger Lakes region of New York. If you drink Barefoot, your money goes to California. If you drink Franzia, your money goes to California. Keep in mind that trying wines from different places is like tasting the place itself, so don’t let an American bias stop you from trying an Argentinian Malbec or Italian Chianti. That would be a shame.
Only Icelanders smoke more pot per capita than Americans. A Gallup survey in 2016 found that 13 percent of Americans were using marijuana regularly, up from seven percent in 2013. Marijuana has become a $6.7 billion industry in the United States, according to Forbes.
It’s a pretty good bet the weed you’re smoking is American if you’re smoking it within American borders. The closer you get to a border, the worse chance you have of coming across un-American marijuana, but with the public opinion of marijuana changing and legislation legalizing the drug increases, supply and demand also increase. Business Insider was nice enough to put together a list of the 25 best marijuana dispensaries in every state in which it’s legal, either medically or recreationally.
If you’re in Colorado, visit The Farm in Boulder or Doctor’s Orders in Denver. Each place has a great deal every day. If you happen to be taking a tour of wineries in the Columbia Basin of Washington, stop by Green2Go in Prosser.
Americans consume 80 percent of the world’s opiate pain pills. That’s what we call an epidemic, and Donald Trump has put Chris Christie in charge of solving America's’ addiction to pain pills. It’s personal for Christie, too. He lost a longtime friend to an opiate overdose.
That’s right, cocaine can be prescribed by a doctor. America is third in the world when it comes to cocaine consumption and second in consumption of prescribed stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. The U.S. is fifth in consumption of amphetamine-type stimulants, so a lot of Americans are amped up.
Cocaine is expensive and hard to find in most places, but most people can easily get a prescription for ADHD medication and quickly move up the scale from the extended release capsules (which contain beads that are designed to keep people from crushing and snorting them) to the immediate release pills (which are not).
I actually suffer from adult ADHD and take 15 mg of immediate release Adderall most workdays. It has increased my production immensely. I’ve gone from working with 30 tabs open in my web browser to 10 or less, but before you schedule an appointment, check out this list to see if you actually suffer from ADHD symptoms. And when you take the test given by your doctor, take it honestly. In the words of my best friend, “It’s a tool, not a lifestyle.”
If you’re already using a generic stimulant, which most people do, it’s likely produced by New Jersey’s CorePharma.
America is ranked eighth in consumption of Ecstasy or MDMA. Unless you have a test kit, it’s almost impossible to determine whether your MDMA is pure let alone made in America. If you’re taking Ecstasy you’re likely taking meth as well, so unless you’re one of the people using the drug for PTSD in clinical studies, just steer clear of Ecstasy until it’s legal and regulated (as early as 2021).
So there are the most common vices of Americans. In order to assure your consuming American-made, though, check your labels and do some research into the companies providing the products.
Next up in our Made in America series we’ll look at American-made firearms and compare them to foreign firearms.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live
So you’ve built the all-American home, furnished it with American-made appliances and furniture, filled the fridge with food made in the U.S.A. and use American energy sources to run your appliances, lights and heat. But America is vast, and you want to see it all.
If you tried to travel 2,680 miles in any direction in almost any country, you’d end up in an ocean. But not in America. The U.S.A. is known for its diversity, both demographically and geographically. That geographic diversity wouldn’t be possible if America wasn’t the third largest nation. That vastness requires transportation solutions in order for Americans to see their nation.
When you’re not going far, you can walk in American-made shoes. I would recommend Keen for all-purpose shoes. I’ve been wearing a pair I got at an REI garage sale for about five years. Red Wing and Wolverine make the best boots money can buy. My dad has worn Red Wing boots to work for over 40 years and has a pair of Wolverine galoshes for wet days. Schnee’s in Bozeman, Montana, makes the best hiking boots I’ve seen. There aren’t many options for sneakers made in America, but SOM Footwear is one, and some of the previously mentioned companies have expanded their catalog to include a few pairs of everyday shoes. If you prefer to bear your feet and walk like Jesus, Okabashi makes 100-percent recyclable sandals and flip-flops right here in the U.S.A.
You really can bike from one edge of America to the other. People do it every summer for about $5,000. It’s understandable if that’s not your idea of fun, but I urge every American to bike to work or the store when they can. It will save you money, and it’s great for Americans and America, especially if you do it on an American-made bicycle.
I haven’t owned a bicycle made in the U.S.A. since I was a kid because Huffy has since moved its factories to China. Even great bikes like Surly have their components made in Taiwan and are only constructed in Minnesota. But since I can’t recommend an American-made bicycle, Inside Hook has provided a recent list of the top five bicycles made in America. Firefly is the only one on the list I recognize.
I take public transportation as often as I can because it’s better for the environment and employs nearly 400,000 Americans, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Think about this: every person on a bus or train is generally one less car on the road. It’s the easiest way to decrease car traffic and emissions, so we can continue to breathe clean air.
Public transportation is also incredibly convenient. I have a bus stop just down the street from my house, and I can ride one bus all the way from the Mall of America to Target Field in less than an hour for less than $2. I can even load up my bike and ride to and from the bus. I even get to read while riding a bus or train, so I’m using that extra time more constructively. But 45 percent of people don’t have access to public transportation because it’s not available where they live, which is why we own so many automobiles. (If you’d like to remedy the lack of public transportation access in America, visit Voices for Public Transit.)
The American automobile industry is a driving force of America. The automobile industry is the seventh largest in the world according to Forbes, and half of the Dow Jones Industrial Index companies rely on automobiles to create revenue. The automobile industry contributes nearly a trillion dollars to the American economy each year and is responsible for 7.25 million American jobs, according to AutoAlliance.org. But many Americans perceive American cars to be inferior to foreign cars. They’re wrong.
I’m not one to use personal experience to make an argument often, but if you don’t think General Motors makes a quality car, say that to my face when I’m behind the wheel of my 1957 Chevy 210. Toyota exported its first car, the Toyopet Crown, to America in 1957. A CNN Money slideshow informs that “Toyota soon recognized that the Toyopet really didn't warrant being taken seriously, whatever it was called. It was underpowered, uncomfortable, lacking in even basic amenities, and it cost more than better offerings from European competitors.”
From the Crown Wikipedia page: “As a publicity stunt to demonstrate the car's reliability, Toyota staged a campaign common to American automakers: a coast-to-coast endurance run from Los Angeles to New York. The Toyopet was barely able to limp into Las Vegas before the project had to be called off.”
It doesn’t matter what decade, American automakers have made higher quality cars than their foreign competition. This list of former Motor Trend Car of the Year award winners proves it, with American automakers taking down 55 awards to the rest of the world’s nine. General Motors led the pack with 26 awards, Chrysler and Ford each scored 14, AMC added two and Tesla picked up one. Leading the rest of the world was Volkswagen with a whopping three awards, Toyota and Nissan had two, Honda and the French car company Citroen had one each. That’s right: AMC has the same number Motor Trend Car of the Year awards as Toyota and Nissan, and twice as many as Honda.
Again, if you don’t think American automakers make quality cars, consider my 2004 Ford Taurus with over 202,000 miles, no body rust, no interior damage and no major issues. I’ve replaced the starter and AC pump. That’s it. Compare that to my dad’s 2007 Mazda with 120,000 miles and body pieces falling off due to cheap, plastic clips holding it together. Consider my father’s 2005 Ford F-150 with over 180,000 miles. He just put significant money into it for the first time, replacing the front end when his four-wheel drive went out during one of the snowiest winters Eastern Montana has seen in decades.
So now that your perceived quality of American automobiles is no longer misinformed, let’s explain why it’s so important for Americans to buy American automobiles. Too many Americans think buying American-made cars doesn’t matter for America because foreign automakers are hiring Americans to construct their cars in America, too. They’re wrong.
According to Roger Simmermaker’s How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism, “When you buy an American-made Chevy, you not only support more American workers, you also support American investors, owners, and stockholders. When you buy an American-made Toyota, you may help your Uncle Bob if he’s on Toyota’s payroll, but you’re hurting Uncle Sam since American companies pay about three times as many taxes to the U.S. Treasury as do foreign-owned companies.” That doesn’t even include the insane amount of tax breaks foreign automakers have gotten to open production facilities in the U.S.A.
From Forbes: “Alabama offered Mercedes-Benz more than $250 million worth of tax breaks, training and land, and South Carolina won BMW’s only U.S. plant with state incentives worth more than $130 million, according to a 2008 report by the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business. The gifts to Kia that helped win the plant for Georgia total more than $258 million.”
Most importantly, American automakers employ more Americans -- nearly three times more than foreign automakers as of 2012. The jobs putting the cars together aren’t the only ones that matter, though. Plenty of materials go into making a car, so the more materials used that are made in America, the more American jobs are created. Simmermaker cites a 2002 Business Week story that states “each auto-assembly created by an American company also creates 6.9 other American jobs, where each auto-assembly job created by a foreign company creates only 5.5 other American jobs.”
While there isn’t a car entirely made in America, the Tesla Model 3 is likely to become the most American car on the road, with 95 percent of its parts made in the U.S.A. You can find out how much of each 2013 car was made from materials made in the U.S.A. by visiting here. No surprise, General Motors tops the list, with Ford and Chrysler filling out the top 10. Toyota has the only foreign car in the top 10, and Chrysler is now Italian-owned.
So I hope the next time you’re buying a car, whether new or used, you buy American, because you’re supporting American jobs when you do.
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Unless you intend to light your all-American home with candles, and there are plenty of American-made options, you’ll need energy made in the U.S.A. to power your American-made lights and appliances. While America’s energy self-sufficiency rate has declined the last few decades, it still produces and consumes more energy than any other nation besides China. America is also one of the countries leading the shift to renewable energy sources.
Back in 2014, a solar power system was installed in America every 2.5 minutes, and that pace hasn’t slowed thanks to a 60-percent drop in price for solar panels. The solar power industry employs nearly 260,000 Americans at more than 9,000 companies, with 360,000 American workers expected to be working in solar power by 2021.
Solar power is booming in America because it saves Americans money. Actual savings, of course, depend on where you live, but are anywhere from $43,242 in Portland, Oreg., to $19,074 in Austin, Texas over a 20-year period. The average U.S. household can break even on their solar power system in just 7.5 years, but in many cities payback periods are four years or less. If you live in these 20 states it behooves you to install solar power, as it’s cheaper than grid energy already.
Buying American-made solar panels is as easy as visiting here and picking out what you require. You can even deduct 30 percent of your solar installation costs from your federal taxes. You can find solar installers here. But if you live in an area where the sun doesn’t shine very often, a wind turbine might be a better fit.
If you generally have a 10- to 30-mile-per-hour wind where you live, installing a wind turbine could be a better fit for your home energy needs. But you must make sure your home is zoned for wind turbine installation. Also be aware that any wind under 9 miles per hour or above 33 miles per hour won’t allow most turbines to harness energy, which is why combining a solar array with a wind turbine and battery is the best way to go. You can also connect either your solar array or wind turbine to your grid energy if you have access, which would allow you to sell your excess energy to the grid. But many states, like Minnesota, have passed or will pass grid fees that make it more expensive for Americans to hook their renewable energy sources up to the grid. Big energy isn’t making it easy for Americans to become energy independent.
You can find a list of large wind turbine manufacturers here, but small wind turbines are likely what you’ll require for your home, which you can find here. You can double check to make sure your wind turbine is certified here. Wind payback periods range from six to 30 years.
It’s that easy to become energy independent and do so with American-made energy sources. Next up in our Made in America series, we’ll look at how to get yourself where you need to go with a look at transportation made in the U.S.A.
Editor's Note: An update follows.
Tesla is now taking deposits for their solar roof systems. Covering the median-sized, single family, American home would cost a little under $40,000 after tax breaks and installation of the Tesla Powerwall battery. It would provide $38,100 worth of energy over 30 years -- a net cost of $1,400. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also announced that the solar tiles are subject to an infinite warranty, while electrical issues and roof leaks would be covered by a 30-year warranty.
Now that we’ve learned how to eat an all-American diet and build an all-American home, it gets a bit trickier to buy American when it comes to furnishing your all-American home with American-made appliances. Televisions are not entirely made in America, but they aren’t a necessity either. The same goes for computers and smartphones, but you can outfit your home gym with Iron Grip Barbells out of California or recycled fitness equipment from IronCompany.com.
There are still a few audio equipment companies building in America, too. ATI, Milbert Amplifiers, Orb Audio and Rane are all good options. As long as you’re willing to give up your television, computer and smartphone, you can still store and cook your food using American-made appliances.
Picking up a refrigerator/freezer and oven/stove would be a good place to start when furnishing your all-American home. Thankfully, both General Electric and Maytag make appliances in the U.S.A. You’ll probably want to run your oven/stove on all-American natural gas because the average price to install a gas line is under $500. For American-made, natural gas appliances, you can start by looking at Blue Star, Wolf, Capital or Viking. Here's a list of Consumer Reports' best American-made appliances.
When it comes to hot water heaters, Bradford White seems to be a good place to start. Here’s a list of eight more companies. And while washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers are not essential, an American-made version of each is available. The rest of your kitchen needs can be found here, and you can clean your all-American home with HafcoVac, Metrovac or Tacony Corporation vacuum cleaners. GarageVac is an American manufacturing company providing shop vacs, and Bio Green Clean and Scott’s Liquid Gold are American-made cleaning solutions.
So now you can store and cook food, but where are you going to eat it -- on the floor? Thanks to all the American forests we enjoy, the U.S.A. has long been a top five furniture producer in the world. The best way to assure your money continues working to boost your local economy and American job growth is to find a local carpenter. CustomMade.com is a great source to find local furniture makers, and they have a vast selection available.
Even if you walk into a furniture store and buy something, it’s likely made in America. The furniture capital of the world is High Point, North Carolina, so there’s a really good chance any furniture purchase made in the U.S.A. is a purchase of furniture made in the U.S.A.
It wouldn’t be a home without a place to sleep, and there are plenty of mattresses made in the U.S.A. I recommend Tuft & Needle as an affordable, American option, but Amerisleep, CozyPure Organic Bedding, Easy Rest Adjustable Sleep Systems, Jamison Bedding, Live and Sleep, Moonlight Slumber and Original Mattress Factory are all American alternatives. For the money, though, Tuft & Needle is tops.
All of your American-made home decor needs are available here, and you can get American-made bedding from any of these places.Quilting has long been an American pastime, and with the amount of cotton America grows, it’s too easy to find American-made sheets. You can make your own sheets, bedding, blankets, curtains and drapes by visiting these American-made fabric companies. I've heard mixed reviews on MyPillows, which are made in Minnesota.
If you have hardwood or tile floors, a rug can really tie the room together. Cobalt Creek American Made Rugs and Sisal Rugs Direct are two options for American-made floor coverings. When it comes to covering windows, CountryCurtains.com is a good place to start.
Next up in our Made in America series is a look at where you can buy American-made clothing.