Why is Made in the USA Important?
Written by Zachary Yablon
Whenever I see a little American flag along with the words "Made in America" on an item I have purchased, I can trust that I am getting a quality product! Do you have that same feeling?
A 2020 survey by the Reshoring Institute found that roughly 70% of respondents preferred American-made products to those produced overseas. There is a deep sense of pride for many consumers when purchasing products that are Made in the USA. But there are other tangible reasons why it's important to you, your pup, your country, and your planet.
What does Made in the USA mean?
On the surface, Made in the USA means exactly what you think it means: that the product is made in the United States of America. But the technical definition gets a bit more specific, and the distinction between what can and cannot be classified as Made in the USA is essential. According to the Federal Communication Commission: "Marketers and manufacturers that promote their products as Made in the USA must meet the 'all or virtually all' standard. This standard means that the product should contain no or negligible foreign content. Additionally, the final assembly of a product must occur in the United States.”
Two examples below highlight the slight differences that make a product eligible or ineligible for the Made in the USA designation:
- An oven is manufactured in Minnesota. All major components are made in the U.S. However, a screw holding together one of the racks inside the oven is Canadian-made. This product can be classified as Made in the USA because the screw makes up a negligible portion of the good and is an insignificant part of the product. 😊
- A desk chair is assembled in the U.S. and is composed of American-made leather and rubber. But the wheels and the base of the chair that hold it up are imported. This desk chair cannot be labeled as Made in the USA because these components are essential to the final product. ☹
Three critical reasons to buy American are:
- A positive economic impact on the U.S. economy
- A less harmful effect on the environment
- The dependable and consistent quality of American products
What are the Economic impacts of buying American?
According to ReimagineAmerica.org, buying American increases the flow of money throughout the economy and creates American jobs. To show this, let's walk through a short example.
You, a proud pet owner and the wise reader of this blog, decide to purchase the Hive Disc from Project Hive Pet Company that you know your pup will love. Project Hive then takes the money and pays a portion of the proceeds to our fantastic employees, who grab breakfast sandwiches and some coffee from a local diner the following day.
By purchasing items in their communities, these workers create and enhance demand for various goods and services. Money continues to cycle through the economy, generating jobs and providing quality wages to Americans across the country. And as demand increases, many organizations will hire additional workers.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, one manufacturing job lost to overseas workers results in approximately six jobs disappearing throughout the economy. The graph below, sourced from the Economic Policy Institute, drives home the importance of keeping jobs in the United States—especially those in the manufacturing industry.
Here at Project Hive Pet Company, we have committed to our customers—and their humans—that our toys and treats will always be manufactured in the United States. While we haven't yet figured out how source 100% of our ingredients and materials from the US, currently, 96% of our treat ingredients are sourced from North America. (We have to go outside our borders to find organic honey, unfortunately—but that’s important to us for our Non-GMO Project Verification.) What's more: our packaging is also made in the US!
How is buying American better for the environment?
Buying American = decreased carbon footprint
Shipping goods within the United States is much more environmentally friendly than shipping from international countries, namely those in Asia. When it comes to both air and cargo freight, domestic shipping helps save the planet. For example, according to a 2018 article written by Mark Piesing for inews.co, the emissions from one cargo ship are equivalent to that of about 50 million cars. That is equivalent to all the people in New York, Illinois, and Florida combined! And think about how far products might have to travel. Recyclebank notes that “An item made in Los Angeles that finds its way to a shop in South Florida traveled about 2,700 miles, while an item made in Beijing, China, ventured more than three times that distance.” Shorter travel distances yield significantly less fuel consumption, sending less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By purchasing products made and manufactured in the USA, we prevent a considerable measure of greenhouse gas from contributing to global warming.
Diving deeper, we must also be conscious of how each country is producing the good in the first place. When it comes to U.S. producers versus Chinese producers, the difference in the energy used during the production phase is profound. While China has ambitious renewable energy goals, China still obtains 56.8% of its energy needs from coal, according to an article by Evelyn Chang for CNBC. Why does this matter? Coal is widely regarded as the most polluting source of energy available. By comparison, the U.S., which has far more stringent emissions standards and regulations, only generates about 19% of its electricity needs from coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. So, by buying American-made products, we can all do our part to lower global greenhouse gas emissions.
But it’s not just about greenhouse gas emissions. Transporting goods from overseas creates emissions that lead to poor air quality. Burning coal emits fine particulate matter, which can lead to respiratory illnesses. For a striking scientific and artistic display of air pollution, check out this fantastic Bloomberg article detailing artist Michael Pinsky's 2018 Earth Day exhibit of air pollution domes. Along with air filtering company Airlabs, Pinsky built domes simulating the air pollution of the following cities: London, New Delhi, Beijing, and Sao Paulo. Beijing, apparently, "tasted and smelled like the aftermath of a house fire." Made in the USA can help mitigate this massive environmental issue—which is truly a public health issue!
Why is purchasing Made in America products a safer, more dependable option?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one of the most well-known agencies in the United States and oversees more than $2.4 trillion of consumer goods (including our very own Hive Chew Treats, Hive Chew Sticks, and Hive Training Treats). That’s more than 25% of the consumer spending in the U.S.! The FDA has regulations for manufacturing practices, specific ingredients, claims about products—basically anything that has to do with products we put in our bodies. To help enforce these laws, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers by stopping unfair practices or illegal activities throughout the country. These regulations, and the agencies that administrate them, help keep us—and our pets—safe.
When products are Made in the United States, the FDA and FTC can easily oversee the process and give consumers peace of mind that they are buying a high-quality product. When we at Project Hive Pet Company claim that our dog treats are Non-GMO Project Verified, you can be sure we have gone through the necessary testing and certifications to be certain of our claims. (For more information on Non-GMO products, check out this blog post from our Co-Founder and my incredible mentor, Melissa Rappaport Schifman.)
However, the U.S. government cannot control the environment in which products are produced in international locations. The vast majority of countries from which the U.S. imports goods do not have stringent consumer protection agencies testing the quality and safety of their products. Additionally, labor laws in the U.S. help ensure that domestic workers are treated and compensated fairly. The same is often not true for workers in factories overseas.
Just look at the facts. This article from TheStreet.com talks about how over the last 20 years, millions of Chinese manufactured products, including children's toys, pet food, toothpaste, and cosmetics, have been recalled for containing dangerous chemicals and toxins. Knowing where products originate from and that they are safe for use is essential. Buying American is a simple way to be confident that your purchase is a quality good that will not present dangers to you or your loved ones.
How can I tell if something is Made in the USA?
Look for the American flag along with a label detailing where the product was made. If you are unsure, ask a store clerk for more information! So on this 4th of July, celebrate our 245 year-old country by supporting companies that make products in the good old US of A!