Thursday, April 11, 2013

Buy nothing new from China update- Success!

Last summer I decided to see if I could go a year without buying anything new from China.  Overall, it has been fascinating and I have learned a lot.  It has been pretty easy to do, once I changed my expectations.  For example, I realized I could no longer expect to buy something I needed from a store I went into.  I am more patient now, and I look at everything I purchase.  In doing so, I often end up not buying things, or researching companies and products.  I often have paid more, but that has not been significant.  I try to buy products made in the USA whenever possible, and when not possible, I try to buy used items.  These are all good behaviors.
One purchase I had dreaded, though was buying a new pair of running shoes.  I new last summer when I bought my last pair (that were made in China, before my no China project), I knew this would be the most challenging item.  Despite the resurgence in popularity in running in this country and especially distance running (marathons and ultra marathons), and all the American running shoe companies, running shoes are almost all made in China now.  All the US companies, and Japanese companies have their shoes made in China.
The only company that makes any of their running shoes in the USA is New Balance.  Only a small portion of their product line is made in the USA and of those shoes, just a few are actually "made" here with domestic products.  Some of their shoes are "assembled" here with imported products, and this amounts to something like sewing in the tongue, lacing them up, and putting a sticker on them proclaiming them to be "assembled in the USA".  In fairness to New Balance, they disclose this and differentiate between their products and how and where they were produced.  And again, they are THE ONLY RUNNING SHOE COMPANY to sell shoes made in the USA!
I used to be very picky about running shoes, and I ran a lot and subsequently went through a lot of shoes.  However because of injuries, I haven't been running much, but I am starting to again.  The shoes I had worn in the past- lightweight, "minimalist" models by Asics, Brooks or Saucony, were all made in China, so were off limits to me.  And, unlike other products, running shoes are something I need to buy new.
New Balance makes one shoe that fits my criteria, the 1290.  So, I ordered a pair from the Runner's Edge, the greatest running store in the world.  It was not a model they carried, and no one had asked about it, so they were intrigued.  I explained my goal about buying nothing new from China, and I hope they start carrying this model to get more people to buy products made in the USA.
The 1290's arrived last night, and I immediately went for an 8 mile run, and they were great- lighter and more responsive than I expected.  I'll see how they do in the next couple of hundred miles and I am hoping they do great so I can order a few more pairs as I train for the Missoula Marathon in July.