The concept of the reusable tote is good in theory; however, in reality, reusable totes are no better than the plastic bags they are meant to replace.  And, here is why.  Check out the labels to see where the totes are made.  I have been taking stock of these totes lately, and they are made in China.

My first inkling that this was the case was when I began looking at all those free totes I receive as gifts to recognize my generosity when I donate.   I donate to a number of groups such as World Wildlife Fund, Earthjustice, and Defenders of Wildlife.  One of the perks that is generally given when one donates is a tote or some type of item that may be fairly inexpensive.   In order to give these items, the cost must be negligible.

I guess it didn’t dawn on me to check the tags for quite some time, but when I did, I found that all these free gifts were made in China.  So I got to thinking that if these items were made in China, where are all those nice looking totes made that are being touted by the mega stores as an alternative to the plastic bags?

So, as I was waiting in line at the West State Scott’s a few night’s ago, I looked at the tags.  The totes are made in China.  One might ask – so what?  Here is the dichotomy:  the totes are to replace plastic bags which are hazardous to the environment.  Yet, by requesting hundreds of thousands of the totes made in China, the corporations are contributing to the destruction of the environment – just in another part of the world.

So, while everyone here who buys one of these totes feels great about helping our environment, the production of these totes is destructive to the environment in another part of the world.  Chinese workers make .44 cents on the hour and the air and water are horribly polluted.

I guess the choice to buy one of those totes doesn’t carry with it a guarantee of environmental friendliness to the developing nations of the world.  So the next time you are tempted to purchase one of the Chinese-made totes to replace the plastic sacks – stop and think about just whose environment is being saved and whose environment is being destroyed.

Misnamed Echo Friendly tote - made in China

Misnamed "Echo Friendly" tote - made in China


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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  1. Norma says:

    I have often thought the same thing. How hard could it be to buy these locally from a Mom and Pop operation and help the local economy?

  2. Greg says:

    I got my reusable bag from the Three Rivers Coop. It is made in California, not China.

  3. Iceironman says:

    California is a foriegn country

  4. Greg:

    I am not sure when you got your tote, but they are now made in China – even at the Three Rivers Coop. I was just there yesterday to pick up a few items, and I made it a point to talk to the clerk about the bags which they have displayed everywhere.

    She pulled one out of its rack and checked the tag, and she said, “They are made in China.” I talked to her about the very points I made in this post, and she said she had never thought about it that way. She said she would let the managers know about my concerns.

    So I suggest you check the bags that they have now. They have gone to ones made in China, which is very disappointing to me.

    I have decided that I will try to the best of my ability to buy only American-made products, even if I have to pay a little more. I just bought a beautiful antique floor lamp from the 1920s. It cost $145, but that isn’t any more than I would pay for one from some of the large retailers – and theirs would be made in China.

    Plus I have the knowledge of the history that goes with a lamp from the Swingin’ ’20s. I am going to research its history and do a short post on it.

    If that is what I have to do from this point forward, then that is what I will do.

  5. Norma:

    I believe it is entirely possible to buy from smaller businesses, but the bottom line for a corporation or company is profit. If they can squeeze more profit out of outsourcing or buying from other countries, then they will do it.

    The only thing that will change this is if the American consumer finally says enough is enough and demands more products made here.

  6. Bob says:

    Did anyone see the Menard’s ad this week? Everything they have on special is “Made in America.” How many stores would be able to fill a flyer?

  7. Bob:

    I did not see it although I get it with my Sunday paper. I will have to take a look.

  8. Andy says:

    @Bob –

    I did see a TV commercial featuring Menard’s “made in Amercia” advertising campaign a few days ago.

    The commercial featured two products: cement landscaping blocks and bags of cypress mulch.

    You know its pathetic when a store has to advertise “Made in America” for these two products. But I do applaud them for at least realizing the importance of where the products are made.

    I think (hope) there will continue to be more and more Americans who consider and choose products that are “Made in America”. This used to be a prominent slogan for products sold at Wal-Mart but after Sam Walton died, cheap plastic crap made in China became the mainstay.

  9. I reviewed the Menards’ ad, and the products are all made in the U.S.A. The only thing I question is whether many of the products advertised even could be imported due to issues with lead and toxins that are still used in China but banned here.

    Many of the products are building materials which I imagine, out of necessity, must be made here. Some were everyday items such as garden products. While I understand Menards efforts, I will almost bet you the rest of the store is stocked with thousands of items not made in the U.S.A.

    This is a good start, but it needs to increase and Americans need to take pride in our own products and those who make them.

  10. Bob says:

    I agree, but it was nice to see some company realize that the public might care.

  11. Judie says:

    Hi, my name is Judie Mcfarland and I own a shop in Marshall, Michigan called “Judie’s Stitches” which I just opened June 1st. It is my sentiment exactly that I would not like to buy a China made tote so I started making totes for my store with the hopes of selling my American made in Michigan totes. The problem is I cannot compete with these other China made prices. I am trying to sell them at the most reasonable cost I possibly can but so far no response. But I will keep on trying. Hopefully there will become a bigger interest in paying a little more for American made and we could help each other and the environment. So nice reading these responses from people who are really concerned about our America products.

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