American Spending

By Cindy Cafferty

October 3, 2008 5 min read


How U.S.-made items are saving the environment

Cindy Cafferty

Creators News Service

Buying red, white and blue today can make for a greener tomorrow -- environmentally and economically.

Thanks to innovative technology and some dedicated CEOs, purchasing USA-made products is no longer a thing of the past, but an investment in the future.

One may not equate eco-friendly motor oil and cleaning products to an organic food and catering business. However, these two companies are examples of how environmental technology is making homegrown eco-friendly products more accessible -- and affordable -- to the consumer.

"We decided to attack two big problems: Environmental concerns and the problem of foreign oil dependence," said Jeff Marshall, CEO of Green Earth Technologies. "We thought applied technology and 'made in the U.S.' would be a significant undertaking and decided to do it."

Marshall "brought Silicon Valley solutions" to environmental and economic concerns facing the country and brought about one of the first innovations in the oil business in 30 years with Green Earth Technologies.

"Sending dollars abroad to buy petroleum is not the best solution for America right now," he said.

It's a sentiment felt every day by consumers with each painful trip to the gas pump and, as of late, the grocery store. It's also a concern being addressed by more companies, as the cost of fuel increases freight costs and raises the bottom line.

For CEOs like Marshall and Organic To Go's Jason Brown, it's also a chance to bring sustainable products made in the U.S. to the forefront of consumer consciousness. "There's likely to be more US manufacturing as companies figure out how to capitalize on [eco-friendly products]," Brown said. "The cost of oil forces the US to leverage for domestic fair value price."

According to Brown, that leverage comes not only in the manufacturing of goods on American soil, but also depending on more sustainable components for the production of domestic goods.

Both companies rely on biodegradable and bio-based components in the manufacturing of their products. Bio-based products use either an animal fat base -- as in the case of Green Earth's G-Oil -- or domestic plant oil extracts such as soy, sugar or corn. Biodegradable products generally originate from plant or animal matter and are digestible by microbes -- meaning that the refuse of such products become food for microorganisms rather than more garbage for landfills.

Both bio-based and biodegradable components can and are made domestically and significantly impact the environment and the economy. For instance, plastic is generally derived from petroleum, much of which comes from overseas. Using corn for production instead means that it can be made on U.S. soil, won't have to be freighted from overseas and is not reliant on foreign oil.

In addition to the components of their products, manufacturers in the United States offer jobs to Americans as well as cut costs on shipping. Companies that invest in environmental technology, as Green Earth has done with nanotechnology, offer high-skilled technical jobs, potentially affecting employment in the manner that information technology jobs have in the past.

Companies that co-op with local organic farmers, as Organic To Go does, not only bring paychecks to working farm families, but also bring pesticide-free, healthier and affordable food to the average consumer.

"We're not sure if the chemicals and crop-dusting materials put on fields are American made," Brown said. "[But] by buying organic food, [consumers] are sure they're buying something made in the USA."

According to both Marshall and Brown, there has been a dramatic shift in consumer understanding of eco-friendly products and an influence to foster American products and jobs. Advances in environmental technology and rising fuel costs are shifting that understanding and help influence a growing demand.

It's not only the improvement of the United States economy that inspire these men. Both said they love their country. In addition to their economic ventures, they are proud to bring patriotism back to purchasing by offering environmentally friendly products that contribute to the economy and fuel the nation -- whether it's fuel for the body or fuel for small engines.

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