Consumers are seemingly more sensitive to buying American around the holidays than most other times during the year. Perhaps it's because as we search for gifts for those on our Christmas list, we run across the words "made in China" a little more often than we would like.
But now that Christmas is over and the New Year has begun, how can we continue to buy American if the bulk of our purchases, for the time being at least, are over?
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The good news is that there are more opportunities to buy American than for just big ticket items like cars and large appliances.
Some the easiest – and the most inexpensive – ways to buy American are in areas where the consumer is really indifferent as to which product to buy. The good news is that when it comes to simple, everyday items like soap, deodorant, or cotton swabs, usually any brand will do since the price difference is usually negligible. The even better news is that sometimes it's even cheaper to buy American than not.
So here are 15 sure-fire ways to buy American in 2015 using the money we're already going to spend anyway.
- Cotton Swabs. Don't call them Q-Tips. The Q-Tips brand is made in America, but guess what? The company that owns the brand isn't American at all. The name of the company is called Unilever (ever seen Lever 2000 brand soap?), which is a joint venture between England and The Netherlands. An American alternative would be the CVS or Walgreen's brand, which are both made in USA. And, CVS and Walgreen's cotton swabs are less expensive than Q-Tips. Both CVS and Walgreen's are American-owned companies and are based in the United States.
- Deodorant. Suave and Dove are both owned by Unilever, so the profits go overseas and the taxes on those profits are paid to foreign governments and treasuries when you buy either of these brands. Want an American brand to buy and save money, too? Go to the Dollar Tree store and buy the Speed Stick brand for $1 each, which is made in USA by American-owned Colgate-Palmolive. If you drop five or ten dollars, you won't have to go back to the store for this item anytime soon.
- Bath Soap. Irish Spring sounds like it might be foreign, but it's actually an American brand made in the United States. Ivory soap is American owned, too. Jergens is made in America, but Jergens is owned by a Japanese company. Think of it like this: Just like a Toyota made in the U.S. is still a Japanese car, a bar of Jergens soap made in the U.S. is still a Japanese soap. Dial is owned by a German company.
- Mustard. French's mustard isn't French. It's owned by the British. Grey Poupon sounds like it might be foreign, but it's owned by an American company, and is made in America.
- Ketchup. I love ketchup. In fact, I love it so much that sometimes I even like fries with my ketchup. You get the idea. I am often asked in radio and television interviews if there is one American brand I could not do without if it were to become a foreign brand. My answer was always "if Heinz was ever bought out by a foreign-owned company, I don't know what I would do." Well, Heinz was bought out by a Brazilian firm called 3G Capital in 2013. Even though the brand is technically only 50 percent foreign owned because Warren Buffet owns the other 50 percent, I've switched to 100 percent American-owned Hunt's.
- Pasta sauce. Italian-sounding Ragu is owned by the Mizkan Group of Japan. Who knew? Prego is an American brand owned by the Campbell Soup Company, and is made in the United States.
- Disinfectant. Lysol and Clorox are both effective disinfectants and there is little if any price difference between the two, but only one is American owned. Lysol used to be owned by Kodak, but Kodak sold the brand to a British company back in 1995. Clorox is American owned.
- Butter/Margarine. Land-O-Lakes sounds like it might happen to be an American brand, and it is. It's also made in America with union labor if you're the kind of consumer that likes to look for the union label. Popular foreign-owned brands in this category include Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, both of which are owned by Unilever.
- Cosmetics. Revlon is an American-owned company and many (not all) of their products are made in the United States. Maybelline was American-owned until 1996 when French-owned L'Oreal bought the company for $758 million.
- Bottled water. Now that we know the French own at least one brand many probably thought was American owned, what other popular brands are owned by companies based in France? You might be surprised to know that Dannon bottled water (and other Dannon products like yogurt) are French owned. Aquafina (owned by Pepsi) and Dasani (owned by Coca-Cola) are American brands.
- Beer. Since I grew up 90 minutes outside St. Louis, Missouri, I always bought Anheuser-Busch brand beer (Budweiser, Busch, Michelob, etc.) But Anheuser-Busch was purchased by Brazilian-owned 3G Capital in 2008 to become Anheuser-Busch InBev. Now I drink either Sam Adams, Yuengling, or smaller American craft beer brands. The best way to find out if your favorite craft beer is American owned is to visit www.craftbeerdirectory.com. Anheuser-Busch InBev is trying to buy up craft beer brands now too, such as Green Valley Brewing Company.
- Mayonnaise. Kraft is the most popular kid on the block in this category, and its American made and American owned. Hellmann's (Best Foods west of the Rockies) is American made too, but is owned by Unilever.
- Apparel. Why shop at Wal-Mart and buy foreign-made T-shirts when you can buy American-made T-shirts from All American Clothing Company (www.AllAmericanClothing.com) where they use 100 percent U.S.-grown cotton for just $10.99. Are the shirts in Walmart that much cheaper? I have to admit I don't know because I don't shop there. But I do know Wal-Mart is still the biggest retailer of Chinese-made goods on the planet.
- Bread. Pepperidge Farms is my favorite brand of bread. Good thing it's an American brand. A similar foreign brand of bread would be Arnold, which is owned by Mexico's Grupo Bimbo (which also owns Entenmann's and Thomas' brand English muffins and bagels).
- And perhaps the best example of all? Swiss Miss is American owned, but Nestle Carnation is owned by the Swiss.
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The good news is that the more we buy American-owned and American-made products, the more powerful and positive impact we will have on the U.S. economy. And the even better news is we can usually do it without any extra cost or inconvenience to the consumer. Awareness is the key.
With over 20,000 American and foreign products and services listed in How Americans Can Buy American: The Power of Consumer Patriotism, you can suppose how much potential there is for the consumer to impact our economy in powerful, positive ways. You can get your copy here for the temporarily discounted price of $5.00. In fact, I've discounted all of my books (there are seven different books available on www.howtobuyamerican.com) to just $5.00 for a very limited time, and you'll only pay $4.95 for shipping regardless if you order one, two, or ten. So if you want the best books available on Buy American, now is the time.