Tuesday, January 31, 2012


My first challenge came today. The little girl I mentor through the Seedling program is turning 9 on Friday. We are allowed to get our mentees small gifts (around $5) for their birthdays and Christmas (if they celebrate it).

I stopped at Target on the way to work with the plan of getting her some metallic color gel pens. Every gel pen I looked at was manufactured overseas. I ended up getting her Bic's version of the Sharpie that comes in nice teal and pink colors and was made in the USA. They are permanent markers, so hopefully she heeded my stern warning to not get them on her clothes or let her little brother get a hold of them (otherwise, a parent is out there cursing my name). I also wanted to get her a nice notebook, but again they were pretty much all made in China, so I ended up with Target's US made multi-color notecards. On the way out I saw the display for cute 8-packs of Crayola (also made in the US) although I thought she might be getting too old for crayons. It turned out that she was most excited about the crayons, so in retrospect I am glad I couldn't get the gel pens I set out to buy.

Not too big of a challenge, but it was fun in a way to have to read the backs of the packages and do some searching. I am an indecisive shopper to begin with, so it makes it easier when there is only one option in a category.

Also, I highly recommend that you try mentoring if it sounds interesting. I have found it to be fun and rewarding (albeit a little unstructured).

Sunday, January 29, 2012


As a starting point I decided to inventory the clothes in our closet and determine where they were made. Perhaps I could pinpoint some favorite brands that were made close to home. The results are shown in this map: http://geocommons.com/maps/135101

Interestingly, of those 14 items made in the USA:
  • 13 are over 5 years old
  • 5 are over 15 years old
  • 1 has the Ladies Garment Workers Union logo on the label (it was my Grandma's and is about 40 years old and I still wear it)
  • 5 were purchased at a thrift store
  • Sadly, none are from Target which is my favorite clothes store

Saturday, January 28, 2012

No More Junk

Now that I am through with school I've noticed I have more time to ponder things that drive me nuts. One of these is the sheer amount of crap a lot of people buy. We have been cleaning our house one closet and drawer at a time and it is astonishing how much poorly made junk we have purchased.

For the next year I plan to only buy quality items made in the USA. No more cheap junk. No more not-so-cheap items that were made on the other side of the globe and shipped here. The goal is to look a little harder for quality items that were made as close to home as possible in a humane work environment.

I am not quite ready to commit to extending this to food items. I really like South American wine and chocolate, European cheese, Mediterranean olive oil and coffee/tea.

As a note of comparison, the things on me and around me right now:
  • jeans - made in Colombia
  • shirt - made in Mexico
  • tank top - made in Cambodia
  • underwear - made in Cambodia
  • shoes - made in China
  • coffee mug - made in China
  • computer - made in Mexico
  • cell phone - could not determine country of origin
  • lip balm - made in China

Let's see how this goes. This may be a bit of a challenge!