With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
“Made in the U.S.A” isn’t exactly the norm these days. More than 97 percent of apparel and 98 percent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made overseas, compared to 5 percent in the 1960s. Nevertheless, a 2013 poll found that 78 percent of Americans would rather buy an American product if given the opportunity.
We can all rattle off a few small, niche companies that manufacture on this side of the pond (and everyone knows those Chryslers are “Imported from Detroit”), but do any other big names manufacture in the U.S. anymore? Surprisingly, yes.
3M has been producing the workaholic’s beloved Scotch tape and Post-it notes at its plant in Cynthiana, Ky. since 1985 — and you can be sure every pack of Post-its you buy in the U.S. was made here. The company is also well-known for its sustainability and CSR programs; it has provided more than $21 million in grants for sustainability initiatives through its environmental giving programs since 2001 and cut its GHG emissions by 72 percent since 1990.
Based in Michigan, Whirlpool still makes a surprising number of its products in America. Of the products Whirlpool sells in the U.S., it makes 80 percent in U.S. plants, according to Consumer Reports. The appliance manufacturer also recently teamed up with fellow Michigan giant Ford on a line of smart appliances that help consumers cut energy use.
3. New Balance
New Balance no longer manufactures all of its sneakers and athletic wear in the U.S., but it has a respectable selection of American-made gear. One out of every four shoes they sold in the U.S. was made here last year, according to the company, and you can easily find American-made choices on its online store or sites like Zappos.
Most technology companies shipped manufacturing overseas years ago, and while HP hasn’t exactly shunned globalization, it offers a solid selection of American-made PCs. According to the company 36 percent of the business desktop PCs sold in the U.S. were built in the U.S. in 2012, along with 100 percent of workstation PCs. Last year HP also became the first IT company to set supply chain emissions goals and pledge to make its supply chain conflict-free.
Rubbermaid manufactures an impressive 80 percent of its products in the U.S. Its factories are also designed with sustainability in mind. Its headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. boasts a 12,000-gallon closed loop water recycling system, and the company has reduced plastic waste at its plants by 98 percent over the past four years.
6. Deere & Co.
Yes, this homegrown American farm equipment company (more commonly known as John Deere) still manufactures most of those bright green tractors on this side of the pond. The iconic firm also entered into a $200 million push to launch the public-private Manufacturing Innovation Institute in January — part of President Barack Obama’s initiatives to boost the U.S. manufacturing sector into next-generation technologies.
While many of General Electric’s products are indeed made overseas, the company still employs 131,000 U.S. workers and has moved a significant number of manufacturing jobs back to America in recent years. The company also exported $18 billion worth of U.S.-made goods in 2011.
Good news for socially conscious couch potatoes, nearly all of La-Z-Boy’s recliners, sofas and chairs are still manufactured in its five U.S. plants. Its plant in Dayton, Tenn., was even named one of the 10 Best Plants in North America for 2012 by IndustryWeek magazine. The company is quick to note that those delightfully cozy chairs still contain a mix of both domestic and imported materials, but at least it’s transparent about it.
9. American Apparel
American Apparel has seen its fair share of scandal, from banned ads to sexual harassment allegations against its CEO, but through thick and thin the T-Shirt giant’s products have still been “Made in Downtown LA.” Centered around its “sweatshop-free” model, the company has also made a pretty solid commitment to sustainability — going virtually landfill-free at its manufacturing facilities and generating up to 20 percent of its electricity needs through solar power.
10. High-end labels from the Garment Center
While many high-end fashion labels succumb to the uniquely tragic scenario of a garment that costs hundreds of dollars being produced under poor working conditions, a surprising number of labels still manufacture their coveted clothing in New York City’s Garment Center. Notable names include Brooks Brothers, Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller and Jason Wu — many of which have lent their names to the nonprofit Save the Garment Center. Even as new development threatens its existence, the Garment Center still employs 7,100 New Yorkers in manufacturing jobs.
Image credit: Flickr/djs1021
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is an editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands, Earth911 and The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.