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Earth Day, A Good Time To Consider Re-Shoring

Recently, we celebrated Earth Day for the 47th year.  Although it is a day recognized throughout the whole world, some countries seem to put a higher priority on good environmental stewardship of our planet than others.

The word “Green” is the popular abbreviated terminology for environmentally conscious or environmentally friendly.    How Green are you, and your company?  Are you truly Green, or are you “feel good” Green?

Being Green and importing can be mutually exclusive.

We all know domestic manufacturing has a tough time competing with the prices of imported products –particularly products from Southeast Asia and Mexico at this time.  As a country’s standard of living rises, wages rise, thus raising manufacturing costs.  In the US, we have earned a high standard of living, thus higher wage rates.

The playing field is not level.

However, we are not only challenged by the lower wages paid in some other countries. There are many other costs that American manufacturers bear that increase the cost of our products – such as; unemployment insurance, employers contribution to Social Security and Medicare with-holdings, workman’s compensation insurance, OSHA safety compliance, environmental compliance requirements, and a whole host of other overlapping laws, and regulations.

In the old days, our “Yankee ingenuity” in machine design and other industrial engineering concepts help us to increase our widgets/hour count so we could overcome a significant portion of the cheaper foreign labor.  Our prices were not out of sight in comparison to imported products, especially when quality was considered.  Our quality was far superior to many imported products.  But, today the quality of many imported products is much improved, and considered equal to or sometimes even better than domestically produced items.

How Committed to “Green” are you?

So, back to the point of this article; can you be truly “Green” if you import products from 2nd or 3rd world countries??

Many 2nd and most 3rd world countries do not have much concern for the environment as they chase the “all mighty” buck (yen, peso, yuan, etc).  Air and water pollution run rampant.  Worker safety standards are lax.  On the one hand you can understand the desire to economically improve the standard of living for their citizens, albeit at the risk of their health and the ruination of the environment.  In my view, it is a sin against humanity and mother earth for these countries to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the volumes of information that has been developed over the past 75-100 years with regard to being good stewards of the earth from an environmental perspective.

So, if you are currently sourcing products off-shore, perhaps you want to re-think it, consider the environmental impact of doing so, and look at re-shoring those products.  If we are all deeply committed to being environmentally “Green” then the competition that drives us to off-shore lowest cost pricing (and highest pollution pricing) would be reduced.  We would all compete with each other at “Green” pricing that reduced the negative impact of manufacturing on our planet.

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