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Nathan W
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Conscious gear buyer on 04/28/2014 13:31:46 MDT Print View

Question out there. I know money and budgets are a factor, but do you take into consideration where your items are made.

For example. I just bought a pair of Black Diamond soft-shell pants. good deal through REI clearance racks, not overly impressed with them but hey, they fit!

Came home saw that they were made in Bangladesh. Which reminded me of the textile mill collapse last year? and the conditions that people have to work in to make some of our clothing.


Do you guys take in to consideration where an item is made? or what the company is doing (or claiming they are doing) to help out their employees? I have been trying to be more gear conscious lately. Its expensive, but I want to help support companies that support their workers, take responsibility in where they get their materials and all.

Additionally, if anyone has companies that fit the bill list them here! I would like to know. Not just outdoor gear but anything!

Ryan Grayson
(ryangrayson) - F
Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/28/2014 14:14:50 MDT Print View

This is one reason I love ZPacks. Everything is made in their workshop in Florida.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/28/2014 14:42:35 MDT Print View

+1 to Zpacks.
and TarpTent
and MLD
and Lawson
and Luke's Ultralight
and the list of cottage companies goes on.

Although just because I shop at my local farmer's market doesn't mean I'm getting organic/fairtrade/cradle to cradle/ etc...

One thing is local/ethical assembly, another is the manufacturing of the materials being assembled. And their work ethics, and carbon footprint, and toxicity.

There's a whole lot to to contemplate on this topic. And so I ask my clients before designing an addition: "What is your shade of green?"

Trace Richardson
(tracedef) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Context on 04/28/2014 16:47:30 MDT Print View

In a perfect world, I would prefer to buy all US made products. I want my dollars going into our national and local economies.

That being said, not buying something from a foreign country does not necessarily mean I'm aiding people that may be working in horrendous conditions. The opposite could be true.... a legitimate factory with hard working people making a fair wage to support their family could be hurt by the loss of business .... Maybe there's a better chance of not aiding the bad players by staying away from countries of manufacture that have poor records? I don't know ....

The point being, not all overseas factories are sweatshops with horrendous conditions and the OP's questions is extremely to hard to answer given the limited information we have as consumers apart from the country of manufacture ...

Edited by tracedef on 04/28/2014 17:00:03 MDT.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/28/2014 17:07:23 MDT Print View

This is really a tough one, because (like so many things in life) it's a lot more complicated than it seems at first.

[Note: just because something is complex and hard to understand doesn't mean that we shouldn't *try* to do the "right thing", but my point is that even when you're trying your best, you may not fully succeed.)

Ok, let's take Z-packs for example... Great -- they design, cut, and assemble in the USA. But where do they source their materials? Does the down in their quilts come from US sources? What about the fabrics they use? You see where I'm going with this...

At some point, components of even "locally made" products have probably been imported from overseas. And just because a particular country had a disaster in a factory doesn't mean that all their factories are run exactly the same way, with exactly the same (lack of) standards.

Many of these questions were covered in the thread about the "Faux-dini". Even in countries with bad working conditions, the local people often have very few alternatives (other than starvation), and factory jobs, no matter how horrible, may be their family's first step towards financial independence for later generations.

If you use "reductio ad absurdum" for these arguments, you'll probably have to go naked, because it's REALLY difficult to find people in the US who raise their own sheep, card and spin the wool, weave their own fabric, and sew it into garments.

So you'll probably never be able to buy only "morally perfect" outdoor products, but I applaud you for doing your best to be conscious of other peoples' life conditions.

Nathan W
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
for what its worth on 04/28/2014 18:24:00 MDT Print View

yes its impossible to find clothing, gear, anything? that is 100% sourced and made in the US.

I can only trust that companies like Patagonia, North Face, MHW, etc, is making an effort to source their materials from responsible places. I kind of like Patagonia's marketing of what they are doing, they SEEM really transparent on their improvements and sustainability commitments. But so does most outdoor companies.

marcelo mora
(Ondeck) - F
MERICA!! on 04/28/2014 19:34:04 MDT Print View

I try to buy everything from the US. I have pride in our country and I like to support it! :D

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: MERICA!! on 04/28/2014 19:44:33 MDT Print View

I prioritize buying from the U.S. rather than countries that have a large trade imbalance, especially China. It's good for both of our economies to have balanced trade.

Jake S
(spags) - M
bandanas on 04/28/2014 22:09:33 MDT Print View

I once bought a bandana with an American flag pattern that said MADE IN AMERICA printed on it. It felt good.

When my wife spent a summer in New Delhi, she bought me a bandana with a flag of India pattern on it that said "I AM PRODE OF MY COUNTRY" in prominent words around the spinning chakra. It was made in Bangladesh. So yeah.

Edited by spags on 04/28/2014 22:10:55 MDT.

Brian Johns
(bcutlerj) - M

Locale: NorCal
Where to buy? on 04/28/2014 22:45:22 MDT Print View

I generally try to buy US-made products. I am usually successful. Not all countries have sweatshops, but it's about more than that. We recently bid 20% over for a home and were second in line for the purchase. We didn't get it. The all cash offer of Chinese Yuan was too hard to pass up, even though we had a great meeting with the sellers who were visibly upset. Down 101 a bit in Silicon Valley, there are tour busses driving around groups of Chinese investors shopping for California residential real estate. Anyway, I've always been an internationalist. I still am, but when you invest as heavily in cheap labor as we have in the last two decades you don't only underfund their population, you underfund your own and create a variety of economic disadvantages. Just my $0.02. You can't buy (or I can't afford) a Made in USA computer, though. So some things leave us with little choice, at least if we want to be on BPL.

Edited by bcutlerj on 04/28/2014 22:46:29 MDT.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/29/2014 04:12:55 MDT Print View

Did you need those pants in the first place?

Andrew U
(anarkhos) - M

Locale: Colorado, Wyoming
Re: Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/29/2014 07:09:14 MDT Print View

"Did you need those pants in the first place?"

-Mind Explosion

This could easily thread drift into a moral minimalism dilemma and super mega anti-consumerism rant, but I haven't had enough coffee imported from Columbia and purchased at Costco to get into that right now...

YES, it is possible to purchase 100% locally sourced clothing in the US. Here in Colorado, land of the uber hippie, I can find several local (read: Front Range CO) farmers that raise their own sheep and alpaca. They either spin the wool themselves, or sell it to another local craftsman who does and then makes every kind of wool garment form socks to sweaters to hats, etc.

We have local crafts fairs, some of which ONLY allow hand made products. One year the lady I buy alpaca products from was selling hats and whatnot, but no socks because she uses a small machine to knit the socks as a time saver versus by hand. That particular craft fair would NOT allow her to sell the socks because they weren't technically "hand made." Just showing the level that some of these fairs take it.

SO yes, you can find at least clothing that is 100% locally sourced, though I understand this may take some research and living in the right location. But with the internet anything is possible these days if you are that motivated. I bet someone is making silnylon in the US, but are we willing to pay double or triple for it?

In the end, you can buy virtually anything that is truly US made from start to finish. You just have to decide what is more easily spendable; money or your conscience.

Nathan W
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/29/2014 07:26:45 MDT Print View

actually I an I'm need of a pair of jean/pants. I have one pair of jeans (yes only one pair) and i've worn a hole in the crotch and need to be replaced (could be patched i guess but my wife said she can make a mean skirt with them) I'll look into recycling them somewhere, in the mean time i'm off searching for a pair of jeans/pants.

Richard Fischel
(RICKO) - F
the bulk of my kit is made in the usa on 04/29/2014 08:45:59 MDT Print View

my various shells and synthetic puffies are from wild things and my down jacket is from feathered friends. much of my mid/baselayers are from nwalpine and mars/patagonia (berry compliant). my sleeping bags are western mountaineering and nunatak. my packs are from cilo gear. i paid nothing near retail for any of my kit by waiting for deep-discount sales or buying off of ebay and other sales forums. the one thing i've been unsucsesful sourcing domestically is outdoor footwear (my four pairs of work shoes are allen edmonds). yes, it takes some work to shop this way, but i've made it a fun challenge.

Stephen Parks
(sdparks) - M

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/29/2014 09:05:56 MDT Print View

"This could easily thread drift into a moral minimalism dilemma and super mega anti-consumerism rant, but I haven't had enough coffee imported from Columbia and purchased at Costco to get into that right now..."

I wouldn't have too much moral high ground to stand on currently if we did did get into that, but I thought I'd share the growing nagging of my conscience that has me questioning my purchases and lifestyle these days.

Nathan W
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Re: Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/29/2014 09:12:09 MDT Print View

I agree stephen. I've been guilty in the past with just buying things b/c i've liked them. I try not to do that (and keep the wife happy) now. But! I am trying at the least just think about where things come from, the company I try and buy from.

Also, an NPR tid bit had some information. I think it was the "one year anniversary" of the collapse at the mill a week or so ago. And how they were coaxed to go to work that day when the workers didn't want to b/c of the cracks in the floor.

http://www.npr.org/2014/04/24/306255669/after-bangladesh-factory-disaster-efforts-show-mixed-progress

heres the segment.

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F - M

Locale: SE US
Unconscious gear buyer on 04/29/2014 09:34:12 MDT Print View

Working night shift, and often being a bit sleep-deprived, I have found myself in the position of being an unconscious gear buyer several times. Packages mysteriously show up on my porch with stuff in them that I was thinking about, but have no memory of ordering. I'm usually conscious when I buy from an actual store, though...

Daniel D
(Dandru) - M

Locale: Down Under
Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/29/2014 10:28:01 MDT Print View

I'm very conscious about what I buy now, it's not about where it comes from but more it's function and purpose. With the current mindset, I don't buy random things any-more, my needs are very defined and I do a lot of research before I buy things so I'm generally not into the latest and the best. Unfortunately in Australia, some items are near double the price of what you would pay in the States, so we buy offshore, the downside can be that these items have lots of distribution miles on them.

Jon Leibowitz
(jleeb) - F - MLife

Locale: 4Corners
Where it's made is only half the issue on 04/30/2014 07:18:08 MDT Print View

As someone else stated, just because it is assembled in the USA doesn't mean the fabrics and insulation is coming from the USA. In fact, when it comes to down insulation, most companies source their down from china, which "live pluck" the down. Yes. The same bird, tortured over and over and over again so we can have down insulation. From my understanding Patagonia is one of the few companies that source their down from the meat industry which means the birds were dead before the feathers was plucked from them.

There is a second layer to this issue which is a lot of cheaper down comes from the foie gras industry which many consider torture and inhumane treatment. Patagonia even admits that their grey down comes from force fed birds, though at least not live plucked.

I find that fact alone worth the premium price for a patagonia down garment.

I pretty much concluded, wrong or right, that if a company is not publicizing the fact that their down IS NOT live plucked than it probably is.

http://www.patagonia.com/us/patagonia.go?assetid=86213

Edited by jleeb on 04/30/2014 07:25:50 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Conscious gear buyer on 04/30/2014 08:32:50 MDT Print View

The Bangladeshis need the jobs! I put the responsibility on the companies contracting the work to make sure the workers are well treated. Getting the facts on each company's policies and procedures is a challenge.

I've always found it ironic that a tree hugging Leave No Trace crowd like ultralight hikers use high tech, polluting and resource burning materials.

I hate to think what the conditions are like in a African titanium mine. What vapors and chemicals are fabric workers exposed too? What is the waste stream like? We know little about these issues.

I try to buy as much used gear as possible. I estimate that 75% of my kit is second hand.