Every Earth Day, I can't help but reflect on the original reasons Steve and I committed ourselves to American Made and the positive byproducts of that decision. Although our driving force was support of our country, the economy and keeping our neighbor employed - as we pulled back the many layers of producing in the USA - we were further educated on the immense benefits to the environment and mankind.
First, let's talk logistics of imports. About 9 out of 10 items are shipped halfway around the world on board some of the biggest and dirtiest machines on the planet. Cargo ships emit a staggering amount of carbon into our atmosphere and oceans. According to a UK publication "It has been estimated that just ONE of these container ships, the length of around six football fields, can produce the same amount of pollution as 50 million cars. The emissions from 15 of these mega-ships match those from ALL the cars in the world. And if the shipping industry were a country, it would be ranked between Germany and Japan as the sixth-largest contributor to global CO2 emissions." Imagine - just taking one of these cargo ships out of commission would be like 50 million people permanently choosing to ride a bike instead of drive!
Not only do cargo ships emit CO2 but they leave a trail of debris in their wake. In a report from 2020 the World Shipping Council (WSC) estimated that from 2008 to 2019, 1,382 shipping containers were lost at sea each year. That is over 15,000 containers in a span of 11 years! Many end up on the sea floor emitting toxins into our precious oceans for hundreds of years, killing vital marine life and coral. Others wash up on shore. Leaving a country and it's inhabitants to clean up the mess.
The most frightening aspect of these environmentally devastating statistics is they are only getting worse as first world dependence on imported goods continues to grow. Now take in account that the countries, mostly second and third world, producing these goods have little to no environmental regulations in place. According to EcoGuide.Org "In China, where many garment factories are located, it’s estimated that a third of the country’s rivers are too polluted for human contact. In other countries such as India, the dyes used to make leather products such as sneakers run off into the river and not only are toxic to the environment but to the people who still have to use these rivers for water". The Health Effects Institute has gone as far to state that China and India have the world's deadliest air pollution. The pollution produced to manufacture our cheap imports is literally destroying the countries that export them. In stark contrast, the United States has policies and the EPA in place to protect our beloved land, sea and air. In fact, the U.S. ranks in the top 15% of all world countries on the Environmental Performance Index (24 out of 180). China sits at 120 and India an abysmal 168. When products are "American-Made" they are held to rigorous environmental standards. Better yet, what we have found over the years, many of these small companies voluntarily choose to be eco-conscious through sustainable manufacturing practices without any additional coercion or mandates from a government agency.
At Stars & Stripes Collective we try to support companies who not only take on the challenge of manufacturing in the USA - but also employ sustainable processes to do so. Click here to shop their products. Because it's not just about looking good or even feeling good- but also doing good with every purchase!
Happy Earth Day - Every Day!