Shopping the “Made in the USA” Label Has Environmental and Social Benefits


Sep. 17 2021, Published 11:18 a.m. ET

Why shop made in the USA
Source: Aaron Burden/UnSplash

With so many manufacturing operations taking place overseas, the idea of buying American-made products seems, at first, to be something of a politically-charged, nationalistic agenda. The political and financial implications notwithstanding, there are a host of socio-economic and eco-conscious reasons why you should shop the Made in the USA label — making for a more guilt-free shopping experience.

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Environmental benefits to shop the "Made in the USA" label:

The most important reason to choose products that are made in the U.S. relates to carbon emissions. Climate change is already upon us at this point, and all CO2 emissions are further contributing to the problem. The shorter distance a product has to travel, the less fuel it uses, and therefore, the fewer carbon emissions it produces, according to Recyclebank.

This is also the same justification for buying local, which supports the local economy and winds up using less non-renewable, petroleum-based resources. Because some countries have less stringent government regulations regarding environmentally-sound practices, manufacturers in other countries might take fewer environmental precautions.

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Construction equipment made in USA
Source: Getty Images

According to Recyclebank, U.S. factories have to comply with emission standards of the Clean Air Act, whereas factories elsewhere may be under no such obligation. They might not feel the need to worry about the environmental consequences and wouldn't want to spend extra money, slow production, or change existing processes. Perhaps the standards are less strict, or perhaps the government has no way of enforcing compliance.

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According to Marnie Custom Homes, items made in developing countries are oftentimes cheaper because of this lack of environmental regulation. Not having to worry about hazardous chemical waste, water pollution, air pollution, and toxic runoff means that these manufacturers can produce and sell their products for cheaper. Unfortunately, such practices are too environmentally shortsighted to be considered sound.

American factory workers sewing
Source: Getty Images
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There are also human rights benefits to shopping for U.S.-made products.

The socio-economic benefits of buying products made in the U.S. also have to do with the relaxed or nonexistent regulations regarding working conditions in developing countries. In many foreign countries, workers might be forced to work longer, harder, and for less money, all while enduring horrifying working conditions that are unhealthy, unsafe, unfair, and potentially deadly.

Products made in the U.S., while not necessarily fairly or safely produced in all cases, are typically made in factories that respect child labor laws, workplace safety laws, governmental regulations, and workers’ opinions. The pay is also generally more commensurate with a living wage than it is in other countries.

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Business in East Meadow, N.Y.
Source: Getty Images

Financial benefits to shop Made in the USA:

Buying products that were made in the U.S. can also come with financial benefits. According to Ericson, the socio-economic impact of decreased American manufacturing jobs over the past few decades has been irreparable, but that doesn’t mean that it can't recover.

Buying American-made products also not only incentivizes U.S. companies to keep manufacturing at home, but it also offers more employment opportunities for Americans who may have lost their jobs as a result of the recent health or economic crises.

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