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Issues with going organic and made in the USA and why AA and bad food in Las Vegas and SGIA

Friday, September 29, 2006

I have spent the last year and a half trying to find a way to make a sustainable product in the USA. The difficulty in achieving this goal has been overwhelming to the point where I have been thinking of giving up on some factor (either making it in the US or making it less sustainable but in the US.) If you check out your organic products or products that claim some aspect of sustainability you will find to your surprise, that most of them are compromised in some way. Either the material does not come from the US but is grown produced overseas or it is put together overseas, or both. The reasons I am so against going overseas are many but for me, making a sustainable product overseas sort of negates the entire purpose due to the use of petroleum products to get the products to us. Also, all manufacturing jobs are being moved overseas. Dell, the only computer company left manufacturing in the US, is moving its last facility overseas. What really is left for Americans to do except to work in the service sector in retail shops and restaurants and grocery stores.?What this means is that most Americans CANNOT afford to purchase goods made in their own country and are forced to shop and Walmart and Target. Oh, what a vicious horrible cycle. Plus, with all our factories being shut down locally, are no longer self-reliant. So, yes, I feel it important to stay in the US (besides the fact that a lot of the employment overseas is abusive (hiring children, long hours, lower than a living wage etc.) ).
The only and I stress this, only, major apparel company in the US that manufactures organic clothing here in the US (this means the fabric is milled in the US and it is cut and sewn here…I don’t know their cotton source so don’t know if it is actually grown in the US as the number of farmers who grow organic cotton in the US shrinks daily) is American Apparel. So, the owner may be a pervert AND the workers may not be able to unionize; I have stuck with AA for so long because they actually do not run a sweatshop and their cotton is milled and sewn in the US. It has taken me a year & a half to even find sources in the US that I can purchase organic cotton from that has been grown AND knitted here (most of it isn’t grown here but shipped from overseas.) It has taken me that long to get to a volume where I can afford to purchase the minimum amount. All the other affordable alternative fabrics like hemp, bamboo, soy are all grown and produced overseas. Currently, I am trying to find a cut & sew shop as close to home as possible that runs a shop I am allowed to walk through. Let’s just say that the cost of all this is double what AA charges for their pieces.
But, man, I sure would like to run a label that says made by ladies, perv free!
Anyway, I ended up in Las Vegas to attend a printing conference …hoping to find some new technology that leaves behind a smaller foot print when printing on shirts. I have to stress it needs to be at a commercial level and although I could go out and purchase vegetable dyes I don’t know anyone who uses them commercially. Plus, they lack staying power.
Commercially everyone who has a conscious has selected to dye with low-impact fiber reactive dyes and just to make sure whomever does their dying tries to keep their wastewater out of the city water.
Then, there is the imprinting of the fabric with images. All processes of imprinting cause damage in some way. The water based inks all contain solvents and many houses just wash the stuff down the drain when cleaning their screens. The process of making the screens themselves require solvents. If there is an image on it, there is an impact to the environment. Discharge printing (leaves no han) uses bleach. UV inks all contain such nasty chemicals that if it touches your skin you will get a rash. Any adherence of an image to a substrate takes some sort of adhesive. I came away from this show realizing that no matter what choice I make to print on my shirts, I will be leaving behind some footprint. The transfers I use are phthlalate free and a child could eat the transfer and nothing come of it but it is plastic. Plastic like a plastic sandwich bag. The current only process that is not unkind to the environment is embroidery.
I read Leonard my friend and Leonard said the best place to eat was at The Grand so I decided to try their buffet thinking it would trickle down. I was wrong. It was a horrible buffet. One of the worst. Mandalay Bay’s definitely kicked its ass. The rice was old, everything doused in salt or grease but it could have been due to the fact that I was eating all alone and I love to eat and read at the same time and I was reading The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian; the section describing the children's ailments and it wasn't pretty. It got worse. When I left, they had a huge crowd gathered around this glass enclosure at the Lion's Den. I walked over and there were 3 Lionesses (sisters) in the cage and two dudes. The one with the large potbelly was just leaning against a rock doing much of nothing. The other guy kept kicking the ball over to the only lioness that would interact with him. Kick. Kick. Kick. Kick. Finally, she pushed him against a wall and growled. The other lion "tamer" (and I say that in quotation marks because all the large cats appeared to be DECLAWED) pulled the lioness off of him and he proceeded to kick the shit out of her. When he was done one of the sisters came over and licked the one that had been punished. I walked away but the mood stuck with me. The Bellagio did have this amazing water show. Sinatra singing and water that shot up 30 stories.

  1. Blogger littlemama said:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  1. Blogger Serena said:

    Hey, I just wanna say to keep on with your righteous self! The world needs people who are brave and wise enough to speak the truth. And, by the way, just what is wrong with N.O.W.?

  1. Blogger Baby WIt Mama said:

    Yes, I was kind of proud that she said I should be working for N.O.W.

    FYI, I bad mouthed the employees I fired and I fired them with good reason.

    My current employees are out of this world and I feel lucky to have the team I finally landed.

    Just ask ANY employer what their biggest issue is and I guarentee you it will be finding good people to work for you so if you can't take the honesty little mama....maybe you should go read some lame marketing blog where everything is sugar-coated. I used to write a lot of that marketing crap so I know it is all BS and written just for little mamas such as yourself.

  1. Blogger littlemama said:

    whatever, you and your shirts suck. what I meant was may be if you are so concerned with a companies ethics you should do something better with your time. How is selling shirts making a difference?

  1. Blogger Suzy said:

    hey lady,
    keep on doing what you do and don't listen to the negativity! just thinking of all these things makes my head spin...
    i had a hell of time looking for dyes... i even wrote to all the "organic" lines that I found to ask what they used and they all said, " oh, i don't know. it's made in india, but it's certified."
    i couldn't figure out how they got those brilliant colors...and *then* learning about how a lot of the natural dyes are no better and often worse for the environment. seriously, i could pull my hair out.
    i've been bugging the kids' coordinator at AA to start doing the organic stuff in long sleeves. she said she's working on it. who knows how long that'll be though.
    I feel the same way about not having things shipped halfway around the globe. what a waste!

  1. Blogger JMac said:

    I am SO GLAD your blog is back up! Hell yes. And as to,
    "How is selling shirts making a difference?"
    Little Mama, all I have to say is thank goodness for people like Andrea who want to do something positive and wonderful with their business so its not just about pocketing the cold hard cash. It would be less of an investment for her to go with some ridiculously cheap product but she chooses to stand for something. And, if you don't stand for anything, you fall for anything. Maybe it makes more sense to you now. Maybe not.

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