Saturday, February 6, 2010

Made in the USA

I teach Ancient History to sixth graders. On a daily basis, I work to relate what we are learning to real life. We were discussing the history of Ancient China and one student commented about the number of items we buy that are 'made in China'.

This lead to a discussion of why it 'costs' less to make items in China (and other places) and why Americans will buy cheaper products. Most of the kids were nodding their heads in agreement about saving money on cheaper items. We also discussed why items made in the USA can sometimes cost more.

We then discussed an item's 'lifetime'. One student observed that sometimes cheaper items do not last long, they break or wear out quickly. Good Observation there! Of course, the comment was also made that because kids outgrow clothing quickly, the clothing does not always wear out before they outgrow it. Another good point.

This comment then lead to their weekend homework assignment. They are to go through all of their shirts and pants that they own and make a simple tally mark chart to indicate if the items were made in the USA or in another place. I did not ask them to specify where the clothing was made other than USA or non-USA for simplicity's sake!

This lead to a few exclamations about the amount of work that would involve! In clarifying that I only wanted them to count shirts (not sweaters, sweatshirts or jackets) and pants (not shorts or skirts) they were a bit relieved. I did comment that if they thought that they had too many shirts and pants to go through in one weekend, then perhaps they had too many articles of clothing!

I too, will be going through my shirts and pants for this assignment. It will be interesting to see what the class results will be. Look for a graph later this week.

Remember: if you must shop, shop locally, shop USA made products! and

My students brought in their results yesterday and we were not surprised at the outcome.

Here are the results:
Shirts: Made in the USA: 133
Made somewhere else: 645
Pants: Made in the USA: 233
Made somewhere else: 570

Please note that this is a class of 27 students. While the fact that most of the clothing was not made in the USA did not surprise me, the fact that these students own so many clothes did!
There was one student who had 95 shirts and 65 pairs of pants! That is just amazing!

We talked about how we could change these numbers. The students talked about buying clothing that was made in the USA. I challenged them to find clothing in physical stores that was made in the USA. I believe that they will have a hard time finding clothing easily that is made in the USA. Since it requires more effort to shop American, most people will not do it. In order to make an impact, not only do we have to increase awareness of the situation, but we have to act on it. Even one more person taking action makes a difference.
The difference is you.
Can you do it?


The Green Cat said...

Interesting that you just had this conversation as I just posted a blog yesterday about the true cost of goods.

For the record, I'm 12 to 2 in shirts and 3 to 0 in pants for non-US vs USA. Sad.

Today I am going out to hopefully buy some new jeans. Since it is so difficult for me to find jeans that fit, I can almost guarantee that my only options will be made outside the US.

CC said...

Yes, I read your blog after I posted mine. Great minds think alike.

In counting my clothing, I found I was 38 to 2 in shirts and 12 to 1 in pants for Non-USA vs USA. Also very sad. I did note that the two newest tops that I purchased were the ones made in the USA.

I agree that it is difficult to find clothing we like, that fit, and are made in the USA. I also find it difficult to find clothing that I like, that fit and are sold in thrift stores.