Shopping for a Skillet, Made in the USA   Leave a comment

Shopping in our house means research, generally. I don’t research every product that we buy on our weekly grocery trips, but special purchases mean research. Today we finally bought a new skillet (yay!) and I’ll use it as an easy example of my thought process and research when shopping for something.

The prep for a purchase like a skillet was relatively easy. I knew that I needed a skillet without a non-stick finish (I’ll rant on non-stick finishes later), but I wanted something all-purpose so cast iron was out and stainless steel in. Items like a skillet don’t have considerations like organic, “natural”, or “artisan-made” (although the All-Clad website uses “artisan” as a key word in their About page). In this case my consideration was finding something made in the US. I really believe in buying goods manufactured in the US and not supporting the “race to the bottom” as companies continuously move their operations to countries with cheaper labor and fewer regulations. When there are alternatives, I cannot in all conscience buy something that I know was made by people who do not earn a fair wage and that was probably not subject to real environmental regulations. Those regulations in the US have contributed to a great increase in our societal standard of living, and I think it is wrong to force conditions that we would not condone at home just to save a few cents.

Usually I start by searching the internet, since I make most of my purchases online, but this time I started by wandering through Macy’s one Saturday after the farmer’s market. What caught my eye was the All-Clad because the boxes clearly say “Made in the USA” whereas just about everything else said “Made in China” in small print. So I started my research from there. I already knew that All-Clad is well regarded for having high quality cookware, but I needed to verify that it is domestic. I found a great website, Still Made in USA, that includes a list of companies that make kitchenware in the US. The only other cookware company that I recognized on the list was Calphalon, but when I had looked through the display at Macy’s all of the Calphalon skillets were non-stick (I know they have stainless steel cookware, but I am tired of always having to buy online and I wanted to actually buy something at a convenient physical store). I also looked at the All-Clad website. According to their information the Stainless line is made in Pennsylvania, but the lids and some of the other lines are made in China. The company was bought in 2004 by a French multi-national corporation, Groupe SEB. Since it is a multi-national company, I have to assume that it has the same environmental and social problems as our American multi-national corps.  All-Clad and Groupe SEB are not listed in Green America’s Responsible Shopper, so that was kind of dead end for researching social issues. I don’t know how to research Groupe SEB any further, but I decided that the sins of the parent company don’t really have bearing in this case and focused on All-Clad. According to the EPA’s databases, All-Clad is a Small Quantity Generator with 250 lbs of air emissions and approximately 0.75 million pounds transferred offsite for disposal. The releases are the metals that you would expect: aluminum, manganese, nickel, chromium, copper. They have no violations listed and look to have a squeaky clean environmental record. The results: “we are cleared for take-off” with a minimum of bad-purchase-guilt.

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Posted March 6, 2010 by mayakey in shopping

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