By Barbara Kessler
Looking for USA-made green gifts? It’s still possible to find them, though it helps to know where to look.
US manufacturing has hung on in select areas, keeping a few venerable firms going in the cookware and shoe-making industries for example, and it’s springing back in other areas as new companies innovate and keep their operations stay stateside.
Here are a couple companies to know as you consider keeping your gift-buying where it supports US labor and businesses.
Lodge cookware is a throwback, but one that many people will appreciate, because it delivers a cooking surface that’s free of harmful chemicals, such as the PFOA compounds in Teflon and related non-stick surfaces. (Many brands have eliminated Teflon).
Lodge is time-tested, and the company has continued to evolve since its founding in 1896 in Tennesseee. The new Lodge Logic line offers pre-seasoned cookware that’s easier to maintain that the old-style iron pans. Treat this new iron cookware right by seasoning it with oil and not using soap, and it will last.
Cooking in iron pots can be helpful for those who want to make sure they’re getting enough iron; when heated the pans impart a little bit of the nutritionally vital metal. Here is one Lodge set; you can find individual pieces in many stores, even some grocery stores carry this longtime US product.
Their website has gotten a little too sexy for family-moderated tastes, but their clothes are sturdy and modern, and often made out of cotton. Aside from a few Canadian sweaters and handful of vintage rags, American Apparel clothing is stitched up right in the heart of Los Angeles.
The lost city, fashion-conscious and innovative, seems like an obvious place for the 21st Century US textile industry to re-root. And American Apparel appears determined to do just that, creating an array of looks that seem to hit just the right vibe with its intended audience (not you, mom and dad).
American Apparel wear can be oh-so classic. Witness the pouty models posturing against the factory’s red brick walls in practical unisex Oxford button downs and stretchy cotton cardigans. Yet many of the clothes have a free-wheeling appeal that’s completely unique, unmoored even. AA designers seem to find fresh ways to use stripes, polka dots and houndstooth for mis-matchy layerings that create that cute, disheveled (but carefully planned) Millennial look. Their coffee high must last all day, because they’re simultaneously spewing caps and tights in eye-popping bursts of Green Apple or Golden Poppy, the better to spice up those black-and-white staples. We don’t even have time to talk about the many ways they’ve invigorated the little black and many other dresses, launching little swingy, clingy, sophisticated-to-casual girlie wear.
These fun, but sturdy togs (we’ve been buying from them for awhile) can cost more. But they hold up.
OK, these sheets don’t come in Green Apple or Golden Poppy, but they’re made in the US, and this is what it comes down to, green, blue, ivory, white and whatever that other color is.
Even The Company Store, known for the quality construction of quilts and comforters that are assembled in Wisconsin (they’re making an effort), isn’t selling domestically made sheet sets. (In fact, a lot of TCS stuff seems to be imported). So get over it, if you want to buy domestically sourced and sewn sheets, it boils down to AJMoss, still stitching in the Northeast USA, onetime home to the world’s most robust textile industry.
As noted, you can choose from five colors. This is New England, you were wanting what, cheetah patterns?
One caveat. We haven’t used these personally. Also, we’re thinking that this product could be greener if they used organic cotton. But we know that organic cotton is often in short supply, and so we won’t quibble. (The Company Store offers some sheets in organic cotton, but they’re imported.)
It can be a sticky venture looking for American-made cookware, especially if you’re trying to replace your old Teflon-lined pans with something slick, but non-toxic. Companies have been promoting stainless steel pans (recyclable and beloved by chefs) as well as newly fabricated, omelet-worthy ceramic surface cookware. Both can get the job done.
Regalware Worldwide, based in Wisconsin, offers a wide array of stainless steel pans that are made, as ever, at its domestic plants. The company also has imported some pans for sale, so one must read the descriptions to be sure the set is USA-made. Helpfully, Regal discloses when it imports. The company also aims for transparency in sustainability, and has reduced the energy and water is consumes.
Regalware’s MasterClad brand offers premium, pans that would please most home chefs. This line is made in the USA and those with non-stick surfaces are PFOA-free, meaning you don’t have to worry about the toxic air pollution produced by Teflon when used at high temperatures. They also sell a Tri-Ply aluminum core line, configured in various sets, such as the 6 piece Tri-ply Stainless Steel cookware set , which includes a saucepan, double boiler inset, nonstick fry pan and a 3-quart saucepan, and the 7-piece Tri-ply Stainless set (above). Both are on sale for Christmas.
Watch out for the similarly named Regalware Food Service brand, which is completely different company spun off in a corporate sale. Regalware Food Service sells cheaper, imported pans sold to extended stay hotels and consumers who aren’t paying close attention. To add to the confusion, this is the line you’ll find on Amazon. The original Regalware pans are sold directly by Regalware Worldwide.
If someone on your Christmas list needs work boots, either for work or just to look cool, you’ll have an easier time of finding USA-made products. For some reason, several brands of boots are still made here. And these are not your fashion store knock-offs. You’ll spend more money, but get incredible durability (comparatively). Some are pretty darn handsome too, if you like this authentic look or own a ranch or ride a Harley.
Check out their motorcycle boots and you’ll see what we mean. Also the white-soled mocs known as Style 875 from the company’s Heritage line (shown above, and if you have to ask the price…). Don’t say manly, we think women might like these too. Find Red Wings at Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom’s and a variety of boot and shoe stores.
These thoughtful toys, made from recycled plastic without BPA, phthalates or PVC, are produced in California. They promise durability and come without the sharp edges and creaky gears of so many mass-produced toys. They’re also gender-aware. The dump truck is available in pink and there’s a recycling truck.
A full listing of the company’s play toys is on their website.
Green Toys sources its plastic from recycled milk jugs. This HDPE plastic is safe and continues to be recyclable. Green Toys says its recycled plastic saves energy — for each pound of plastic it uses, it conserves enough electricity to power a TV for three weeks. Not having to ship the toys from overseas saves additional fossil fuel emissions. Finally, the toys are packaged in environmentally friendly recycled cardboard, which is also recyclable.
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