Every purchase you make is a decision to support certain causes, production standards and economies. However, this isn't always a conscious decision. You buy things you like, and don't always think about where the products actually came from.
For U.S. consumers, seeking out and buying American-made products means supporting local economies and jobs. The following companies – many of which follow sustainable and socially conscious practices – manufacture their products right here in America, and use materials primarily sourced from the good old U.S. of A.
Headquarters: Sausalito, California
Green Toys cares about raising awareness of sustainability and does that through its 100 percent recycled materials and U.S.-based manufacturing. It makes its toys mostly out of recycled milk jugs, occasionally incorporating other types of recycled plastic such as yogurt cups. The milk jugs it uses are 100 percent post-consumer recycled high-density polyethylene, and the company's use of this in its toys has helped recycle over 49 million milk jugs. All Green Toys products are packaged in recyclable cardboard with no additives like blister packs, twist ties or cellophane wrappers. The company even uses soy ink on its packaging.
American Plastic Toys
Headquarters: Walled Lake, Michigan
American Plastic Toys has been producing toys in the United States since 1962. It buys all of the plastic to make the toys in the U.S., and the color it uses in all of its products is also purchased domestically and FDA approved. Most of the components in the products are molded in the company's plants or purchased from U.S. companies. The company also tests every American Plastic Toys product by at least one independent U.S. safety-testing lab. While customers cannot purchase products online, American Plastic Toys are available from most major mass merchants, including Walmart, Toys R Us and Dollar General.
Headquarters: Arlington, Texas
Fifty years ago, Petmate created the first dog kennel at its home office in Arlington, Texas. Since then, the product line has grown from kennels to accessories, apparel, bathing supplies, feeders and so much more, and for a variety of animals. It sources much of the plastic for manufacturing from Spectrum Plastics Facility, also based in Arlington. The Petmate manufacturing facility has received the Edison Green Award for being "a leader in globally recognizing, honoring, and fostering innovation and innovators to crate a positive impact in the world."
Headquarters: New York, New York
Launched in April 2014, Casper manufactures mattresses, among other things such as sheets and pillows, that it delivers right to your door in a box. Casper products are free from harmful chemical flame retardants, and the company uses a Greenguard-certified, water-based adhesive for laminating the foams rather than solvent-based adhesives. The foams are also ultra-low VOC and held to the highest environmental production standards, according to the Casper website. The company's mattresses are handmade with components from Illinois, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and New York. Casper is headquartered in New York City and ships its products from warehouses in California, Georgia and Connecticut.
Headquarters: Denver, Colorado
Scientist and dad Chris Cochella designed Brackitz when he realized that traditional blocks weren't enough to stimulate his kids' wildly growing imaginations. Brackitz allows kids of all ages to build 3D structures, large or small. They are intentionally open-ended, meaning that players can keep adding and adjusting with seemingly no end in sight. All Brackitz products are made in the USA with safe materials certified by Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.
Ample Hills Creamery
Headquarters: Brooklyn, New York
Named for a line in Walt Whitman's poem "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," Ample Hills Creamery offers some of the most unique and whimsical ice cream flavors around. Owners Brian and Jackie opened Ample Hills in the spring of 2011 and dedicated themselves to making ice cream the old-fashioned way: slowly and by hand. They use hormone-free milk and cream from grass-fed cows and organic cane sugar. Ample Hills pasteurizes its milk and cream on site, so it is a registered dairy plant. Almost all of its mix-ins are made in house from scratch. It has four locations in New York City and one at Disney World, but you can also purchase pints on its website and even on Amazon.
Headquarters: Jackson Center, Ohio
It was on a camping trip that Wally Byam got the idea to start the Airstream Trailer Co. Byam had bought an old Model T chassis and built a tent on it, but it was an uncomfortable and time-consuming process. He then thought of building a tear-shaped aluminum shelter with an icebox and small stove in it, and the first Airstream was born in Byam's Los Angeles backyard. Soon after, the Airstream Trailer Co. began producing its early trailer, the Torpedo Car Cruiser. By 1932, the company had sold more than 1,000 Torpedo Car Cruisers. Airstream has been producing its trailers in Jackson Center Ohio since 1952 and manufactures about 1,000 motor homes a year.
Headquarters: Bradford, Pennsylvania
George G. Blaisdell, Zippo's founder, started making lighters in 1932 based on an Austrian lighter design. Since then, Zippo lighters have become iconic collectible items, with more than 4 million collectors in the United States. On June 5, 2012, the company produced its 500 millionth lighter. In the more than 80 years since starting, Zippo has become one of the most recognizable brands in the world, with its lighters being sold in more than 160 countries. They also have appeared in more than 1,500 movies, the company says. Today, George Duke, Blaisdell's grandson, owns Zippo along with the Case Cutlery Co., acquired in 1994, and the Ronson brand of lighters and fuel, acquired in 2010.
Pendleton Woolen Mills
Headquarters: Portland, Oregon
Pendleton has been a family-owned business for 150 years, and its Native American-inspired designs have stood the test of time. The company uses pure virgin wool for its clothing and blankets. Not only does Pendleton create quality, American-made products, but it also strives for social responsibility by making United Way donations, participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and strongly supporting the American Indian College Fund, among many other causes.
Lodge Cast Iron
Headquarters: South Pittsburg, Tennessee
Lodge Cast Iron was originally named the Blacklock Foundry after Joseph Lodge's friend and minister. However, in May of 1910, the foundry burned down, and after three months and a move a little to the south, the company was renamed Lodge Manufacturing Company. Lodge produces high-quality, seasoned cast iron for cookware. It has a complementary line of cookware, Porcelain Enameled Cast Iron, and in 2016, it broke ground on a new distribution center and also a new foundry.
Headquarters: Dubuque, Iowa
Malpaca pillows are 100 percent natural, made with organic fabric, thread and even labels. In the spring of 2009, Mary Ann Anderle was attending a green-building design seminar. She had her "aha" moment when a speaker at the seminar said that the synthetic and toxic products they were selling to their clients were basically killing them. Anderle went on a search for natural, organic bedding, beginning with a nontoxic sleep pillow. Over the following several months, she developed a pillow design to represent both the traditional pillow personality and the popular, firmer contemporary pillow design.
Night Owl Paper Goods
Headquarters: Birmingham, Alabama
Since starting in 2006, Night Owl Paper Goods has grown into a thriving family-run business producing quality greeting cards, journals and notebooks, personalized holiday cards, wedding invitations, and much more. The company uses sustainably harvested birch wood and 100 percent cotton paper made from reclaimed fibers of the textile industry. It refers to its studio as being located in Birmingham, Owlabama, and its products are available in more than 1,300 retail stores worldwide.
Vermont Teddy Bear Company
Headquarters: Shelburne, Vermont
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company started in 1981 with a cart on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, selling teddy bears that founder John Sortino made in his garage. While the factory is located in Shelburne, Vermont, the different parts of the bears come from all over America. The bulk of the fur, for example, comes directly from Wisconsin. Not only are these bears made in America, the company also knows that corporate responsibility is a big part of Made in America products and companies. Their Big Hero, Little Hero program donates a bear to a first-responder unit for every Little Hero Bear that is purchased.
Headquarters: Arcola, Illinois
Handcrafting furniture since 1979, Kevin Kauffman and his brothers joined their dad to learn furniture construction on their family farm. Kevin soon joined his uncle to start a larger company, later joined by another uncle and a fourth partner, and Simply Amish was born. Craftsmen living within 20 miles of the Simply Amish distribution center make 70 percent of the furniture, and each piece is blanket-wrapped to cut down on the amount of foam, cardboard and plastics. All of Simply Amish's hardwood sources are located within 500 miles of its craftsmen, saving fuel and shipping costs and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
Kiel James Patrick
Headquarters: Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Kiel James Patrick is a dream world for the preppy and the nautically inclined fashionista, man or woman. With the company's carefully crafted bracelets, shirts, boat shoes and much more, every shopper knows they are getting a quality, American-made product. The website states that all its products are proudly made in America. The business started in Patrick's backyard in 2007, and is now run out of an old auto-body shop in Rhode Island where everything is made by hand, sometimes by Patrick himself or his wife, Sarah Vickers. What makes the company interesting is that all of its advertising is done on Instagram.