Made in America, but where do the parts come from?
I have always believed that a good product comes from local sources and uses locally sourced materials. Not simply from a supporting local economies stance, but really from a consumer benefit stance. As a furniture maker, I quickly learned how much fuel, resources and cost is involved in the sourcing of lumber. Trees were often harvested from other continents only to be shipped to another continent to be brokered and sold on the market, then transported again, sometimes dozens of times as it trades hands through various middle men. Eventually the logs get sawn and dried (also in different locations), to finally end up on the market once more a kiln dried wood. Eventually this lumber would make it to the end user, after being trucked all over the world, marked up dozens of times and then made to a piece of Furniture.
Now when you think back to that original guy cutting the logs down, he is likely getting slave like wages. He is working hard to support a family and at the end of the day, he is really not going to worry about which forest the log is cut from or if it is sustainably harvested. The lumber he sources is simply a means to an end for him. Once the log leaves his ownership, a long chain of ownership means additional pollution of the earth and waste of resources. This is why I decide a long time ago to only use local lumber from local sawmills. Lumber cut from responsibly managed forests and in most cases, lumber from naturally fallen trees.
I see the same thing in the mattress industry, but in this case there is a deception in advertising that left me taken aback. Some manufacturers are using vague location references to confuse consumers. Often I hear continental references over more localized references. For instance European components, if an item was made in France, Italy or England, they would shout that out from the rooftops. By saying European, a manufacturer is trying to distract the consumer from the reality that the item is likely made in third world conditions under less than fair trade standards. Likewise, with the current currency exchange rates, sourcing parts from Europe and selling the product for in some cases less than half of what almost all comparable American made products sell for doesn’t really add up.
Naturepedic and Savvyrest mattresses are a prime example of responsible sourcing. Both companies offer an organic certified product. But it is not just a stamp that they purchased. Organic means that they know definitively where all the components for their mattresses came from. I have witnessed firsthand the database and papers that follow every mattress through the factory at Naturepedic. Each document traces the point of origin of every component in each individual mattress. This means that you as a consumer can sleep well knowing that your product is not only fairly sourced, but that it is of the utmost purity. When a product is fair trade, the incentive for a worker to cut corners or add poor quality ingredients is removed.
Next time you shop for a product, be sure to ask where it came from and think about the common sense of the selling proposition. Does this price make sense for an item composed of European imported components? Does this company seem big enough to actually support their warranty? Have I seen the warranty in writing and is it clearly written? With a little research and a lot of common sense, you do not have to be a scholar to find the right products, but you do need to think about those great ‘deals’ and the origins of your product.