I’m Still Looking

I’m searching, but I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for…

A month ago I walked into the Rainbow Sandal Factory in San Clemente, California and felt my heart break and a deep resentment settle into the pit of my stomach.  Rainbow Sandals, forever made in my local burb of San Clemente, had finally completely sold their soul and began producing the bulk of their products abroad.  I couldn’t believe it.  As they moved their products onto boats we found their home grown customer service of friendly, casual, surf-reporting sandal sales people had also been shipped out and replaced with a haughty, arrogant, ill-informed, and generally distasteful bunch of hooligans who cared little for the vitality of life.  I declared I would no longer buy the simple home grown sandal ever again.

As Dan and I cycled through South East China this past August, we saw mills and factories that poured out water in colors you couldn’t imagine possible, we breathed in smoke and fumes from industries that we Americans buy from every day, and we suffered physical injuries from this degree of heavy environmental pollution. While I’ve long believed that a global marketplace is the only viable option to international peace, this imagery and sensation has provoked me to yearn to buy from manufacturers who produce goods which adhere to standards of not only quality, of which we experienced very little while abroad, but also of responsibility.

Buying American is all well and good, but often we find ourselves stuck in some trap of buying only gigantic vehicles or worthlessly regionalized nic-nacks.  Buying Responsibly can perhaps expand your options and massage your soul.  Further, we see tags and stickers on our products that proudly proclaim “Made in the USA.” However, we don’t know how deep that extends, and I would venture that it typically does not include the textile, the plastic, or the components, rather it includes the manufacture of the end product, the assembly, or simply the design. While this is supportive of the American economy and beneficial to many, pushing jobs here and there isn’t the pain that I experienced, it was pushing the pollution, pushing the problem.  I would like to seek out a collection of businesses whom derive all their parts, components, and pieces from places with environmental standards, believing that my dollars go to producers, companies, and firms that use prudence in manufacturing.  This, for me, is best done by evaluating the nations which maintain strict environmental policies and regulatory groups who are competent at reporting and enforcing those standards and policies.   I don’t support endeavors that pour paint down the drain in the US and I don’t support them abroad. I am challenging myself and others to consume little and consume responsibly.

More Information on the Subject:

*I am truly interested in finding outdoor companies who use appropriate materials in their goods and have found few that do.  Brands including Patagonia, Smart Wool, Black Diamond, Marmot, Mountain Hardware, and North Face typically manufacture their products abroad in countries with very loose environmental regulation, unfortunately.  I hope to find some good manufactures (or lists others have compiled) soon and then add them to this very short and incomplete list.