So I have been driving myself crazy looking for a gift for my mom to bring back to the Philippines for my brother’s girlfriend.  She was so sweet and bought me a few tote bags from the Philippines so I wanted to get her something that she would really like and would actually use. Since she’s in the Philippines I wanted to get her something she couldn’t get there so something local a.k.a. made in the USA.

I already knew this was going to be a challenge.  Hardly anything is made in the USA anymore.  It’s either made in China or some 3rd world country in southeast Asia, pretty much anywhere but here.  Why is that?  Two words.  CHEAP LABOR.  Many companies have been outsourcing their labor to 3rd world countries because the cost of living in these places are low and many people are eager to work.  There is HUGE debate surrounding this topic.  On one side outsourcing creates jobs in these countries and essentially helps a workforce who hardly had any jobs to begin with and on the other side outsourcing is exploitation, companies are taking advantage of people who are less fortunate to make a profit.  I found a great debate started by a small business entrepreneur if you want to learn more about this issue.

For me personally, I don’t TOTALLY disagree with outsourcing.  In a perfect world though I would prefer it didn’t happen.  In my opinion outsourcing feeds on a colonial mentality.  Companies seek out people who are at a disadvantage, bribe them with riches & a dream of a better life, make a profit off of their backs, and leave them out in the cold if cheaper labor is to be found elsewhere.  I’m not saying ALL companies are like this, but from what I’ve seen, read, and heard about a majority are.  I feel that we should leave other countries alone already!  Many things we (as a nation) do seems to keep others oppressed whether intentional or not.  It’s so deeply rooted that we don’t even realize it anymore. In my best sarcastic tone, “We’re helping others by giving them work while companies/corporations make thousands, millions, even billions off of them?  It’s not our fault their cost of living is much lower than ours.”  Come on are you for real?!?

So I’m trying to buy from socially responsible companies i.e. they treat their workers fairly, give them a fair wage/benefits, hire locally.  But before that I’m trying to shed myself of the consumerism bullshit I’ve been fed to pretty much since I was born (aka stop buying shit I don’t really need).  This is really hard for me because I LOVE shopping and I was raised where shopping was a favorite past time, but I’m slowly getting better.

Back to my brother’s girlfriend and my quest for something made in the US.  I remembered that I once bought these knee high socks awhile back at a store called American Apparel.  They advertise that they are vertically integrated.  Back then I had no idea or interest as to what that meant.  I just wanted those damn knee highs.  In essence vertically integrated means that they design, make, and advertise all of their products locally reducing their carbon footprint.  They help sustain the economy by providing work at fair pay with benefits.  WOW!

American Apparel pretty much defines ‘hipster’.  A lot of the clothes are unisex, no labels, hardly any graphics.  Kind of reminiscent of the 80’s but with a modern twist.  A place to buy basics (tshirts, tanks, socks, etc) if that’s not your style.  It is pricier than say Forever 21 but still affordable.  They sell men’s, women’s and kid’s clothes.  Their marketing/ad campaign is somewhat of a controversy and I’m still on the fence if I would recommend shopping there, but they do have a good thing going as far as socially responsible labor practices.

At last the search was over.   Although I may have spent a little more than I wanted, it felt good to know that my money went to supporting a system that benefits WORKERS of the good old USA.