Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Celebrate the holiday by supporting your local makers and manufacturers.

Get excited guys. It’s almost here.

The Fourth of July is upon us, which means barbeques, trips to the beach and plenty of fireworks. But whether you are staying at home or hitting the road, you can still celebrate the holiday in style — and support companies that create jobs here at home.

Here are our dos and don’ts for a festive Fourth.

Don’t: Support Sweatshop Labor with Your Attire

Red, white, and blue is the dress code for the July 4th holiday, and you’ll find plenty of options at your local retailer. The problem? Many of those festive-looking T-shirts, shorts and dresses are made abroad (cough Gap cough), often in sweatshops where workers toil in unsafe conditions. Not the kind of thing to support while celebrating a holiday that honors freedom.  

Do: Outfit Yourself in Patriotic Gear

Fortunately, there are plenty of red, white, and blue outfit options out there that also are manufactured in the United States. Mizzen + Main creates men’s clothing, including BBQ-ready casual shirts, that are designed to “breathe, stretch, and wick away moisture” — and you can find them at retailers like Nordstrom. For the ladies, New Orleans-based Jolie & Elizabeth offers an array of pretty patriotic dresses, including lightweight seersucker for hot summer days. Accessorize with gear from companies like beachy Skipper Bags, flip-flops from Okabashi and Tidal, and sunglasses from Martasand Handmade Sunglasses. Looking for swimsuits? Check out Point Conception. Want something super patriotic? All USA Clothing has you covered. Still not finding what you’re after? Check out our Made in America guide for even more options.   

Don’t: Fly a Foreign-Made Flag

There’s nothing that quite packs a patriotic punch quite like the American flag, but unfortunately many of the flags found in big box stores are made in places like China. Ditto for much of the America-themed party gear out there as well.

Do: Decorate with American-Made Flags and Accessories

Good news: It’s easy (and inexpensive) to find a flag that’s manufactured in the United States. Family-owned Annin Flagmakers have been making flags in America since 1847, and you can find their products at major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Another option: Valley Forge, which makes its flags entirely of domestic materials. You can find their products online, retailers like Home Depot, and at flag stores across the country.

On the decorations front, skip the big box party supply stores and check out the online options from Norton’s U.S.A., which offers everything from party plates to fun tiaras. Amazon also is a good place to look for American-made party favors like these patriotic tattoos and mustaches.

Don’t: Host an Unpatriotic (and Potentially Unsafe) Barbeque  

Outdoor cookouts are the among the most popular events of the July 4th holiday, but do you know where the food you are serving your guests is coming from? The U.S. imports a lot of food from China, and given China’s shaky history when it comes to food safety, it’s probably best to stick to local sources whenever possible. Meanwhile, we can’t think of anything less patriotic than drinking an imported brew on the Fourth.

Do: Stick to Locally Raised, Grown and Brewed Sources

It’s a great time to find outstanding local food and beverages, from organic options at your local farmer’s market to the aisles of big chain grocery stores. Grilling out? Ball Park, Hebrew National, Oscar Meyer and Johnsonville are all American-made, along with Arnold Bread, Country Hearth Bread and Pillsbury Dinner Rolls. You can also find plenty of Made in America condiments like Guldens, Heinz, and Vlasic (along with many other locally-made sauces).

On the beverage front, big brands like Landshark Lager, Coors, Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Miller Lite and Milwaukee’s Best are all brewed in America — and there are, of course, thousands of options from microbrewers and plenty of union-made options, too. Not into beer? Big brand wines like C.K. Mondavi, Michelle, Franzia, and more are among the union-made options available in most stores; hard liquors like Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Bullet Bourbon also are American-made. On the lighter side, soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo also produce a variety of beverages on U.S. shores.   

You can serve your guests those drinks in Solo cups, Ball’s Mason Jars, or Tervis cups, all of which are manufactured in the United States. Meanwhile, Fiesta makes its colorful plates, bakeware and more in West Virginia, while Liberty Tabletop bills itself as the only maker of flatware in the United States.

Don’t: Fire Off Foreign Fireworks

The Washington Post reported in June that one Chinese businessman is now the largest supplier of pyrotechnics in the United States — companies founded by Ding Yan Zhong have sent 241 million pounds of fireworks into the United States so far this year. That raises significant questions about the overall competitiveness of the overall industry — and who wants to celebrate a foreign monopoly on the Fourth of July?

Do: Pick an American-Made Firework

American Fireworks was founded by an Italian immigrant in 1899, and is still family-owned and operated in Hudson, Ohio. Black Cat also offers a variety of Made in the USA fireworks for your outdoor celebration, and Diamond Sparklers are a great way to light up the night as well. But remember: Safety first, and be sure to verify that it is legal to set off fireworks in your area.

For more American-made options, check out our Made in America Directory. Is one of your Fourth favorites not on the list? Let us know on Twitter via @KeepItMadeinUSA.