Don't Buy Martha Stewart Housewares, Instead Try...

by - Monday, June 05, 2017

This blog series "Don't Buy... Instead Try..." intends to point out some of the most egregiously unethical, wasteful, and environmentally ridiculous companies out there. Instead of dwelling on their considerable awfulness, the series will focus on the other options you have for purchasing.

Every purchase we make is a vote for the kind of world we want. 
Every single purchase is political.
 Every single purchase has ethical ramifications, and 
every single purchase should be approached with a spirit of stewardship. 

We can change the world by refusing to fund extreme greed, the mistreatment of other human beings, and the trashing of the environment. We need to stay aware of the many choices available to us. Will we get it right every time? No. But if we all make little changes, we can send companies a new message, that consumers will show up if they do the right thing (and they won't if the companies grab for easier, cheaper money). 

from Zimbio
Oh Martha Stewart, as American as apple-picking in the fall. As American as an all-organic Thanksgiving dinner. As American as an overcrowded prison system (oh come on, you knew it was coming). This woman is as meticulous, thoughtful, and on point as a perfectly laid out table, filled to the brink with super wasps.

Locally-made is also a huge part of her magazine empire, and they even award an American Made prize every year, intentionally highlighting makers in the United States. That's commitment, right?

With all of this being so important to her brand, surely her house ware, craft supplies, and kitchen stuff, sold everywhere from Kmart to Macy's, would be made in America, right?

from pinterest
Surprise! Nope. Everything in her brand is Made in Elsewhere.

Americaness may be an essential part of her image, but the facts of her manufacturing tell a different story. Her products may look soft and pristine, but they are actually horrible for Americans, horrible for the environment, and not all that great at just staying together.

I can say this from experience. We bought her mixing bowls in our first round of moving in together shopping. Though they were pretty, they showed their age quickly and two or three broke apart completely before we cohabitated for five years.

The short version of this story is that the woman is selling junk with her face on it for way more than it is worth. No wonder she looks so smug!

Now, Martha sells a pretty epic variety of things in her brand (again, never a good sign! You can't do everything well), so we won't be able to address everything here, but I will try to point you to some gems. I also recently wrote a Made in America Wedding Registry, and it will give you an alternative to most of her selections, so if I don't address something you want to get Made in America, that is somewhere to start.

Down with Martha. Down with all of these celebrities selling absolute junk they would NEVER use, just to make an extra buck (I am looking at ALL of you at Food Network). Be quick to question these celerity brands, because all they have proven to do is make the celebrity money.

Epicurean from Amazon

Ok, so five places to look before you turn to Martha's Kitchen Collections: 

Don't Buy Martha's Bakeware, Instead Try USA Pan- Made in Pittsburgh, beloved in professional kitchens and kitchen stores alike (both Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma have lines manufactured by USA Pan). Trust me, I research this stuff all the time, and I won't buy anything else.

Don't Buy Martha's Cake Stand, Instead Try Anchor Hocking or Mosser Glass- These ones are more beautiful and built to last. Yes, the Martha one (in this case) is cheaper, but if her stuff lasts about 5 years, you could be buying 10 more in your life. So which is a better deal in the end?

Don't Buy Martha Cutting Board or Utensils, Instead Try Epicurean- Poke around at the Epicurean kitchen tools. They offer a reasonable variety of well-made (and ethically-made) stuff that you keep forever.

Don't Buy Martha's Mixing Bowls, Instead Try Pyrex and Calibowls-  This is entirely a matter of taste. I would generally avoid plastic bowls, but Calibowls are just as beautiful as the Martha set, but they are made of recycled plastic and have such a smart (spillproof!) design. Pyrex is also an American institution, and they make mixing bowls with lids, which turns out to make a whole lot of sense. Both heads and shoulder above these bowls which betrayed us.

Don't Buy Martha's Food Container Set, Instead Try Pyrex or Anchor Hocking- Now I am all about eliminating plastic tupperware from your kitchen (better for the environment and your body), but this isn't the way to do it. No American needs to buy glass imported from another country (this includes you, Oh WASPy one). Pyrex and Anchor Hocking still manufacture in the US, their prices are comparable if not better, and you can get them everywhere from Big Lots to fancy kitchen supply stores.

Don't Buy Martha's Cheese Grater, Instead Try Microplane -  You may get one made partially in the US and partially in Mexico, but that is still way better than Made in China. Microplane has a pretty large line of graters and zesters, so you should be able to find just what you need.

1888 Mills from Amazon

Five places to look before you turn to the Martha Stewart Decorating Collections

Don't Buy Martha's Bedding (Whim or otherwise), Instead Try  Holy Lamb Organics and American Made Dorm and Home- Simple options and more cutesy designs (better than the Whim patterns in my opinion) between these two companies.

Don't Buy Martha's Salt and Pepper Mill, Instead Try Fletchers' Mill- We have them, we love them, we would never go back to a regular McCormick shaker. If you want to take the leap, try a company like Fletcher's Mill who make gorgeous mills in the United States

Don't Buy Martha's Silverware, Instead Try Liberty Tabletop- This one definitely has a big price difference, not going to lie, so if you feel too strapped to splurge on silverware, you could also go get sets used. I think there has to be enough silver in the world that we could all just use the pre-used stuff, as long as we aren't partnered with someone who can't handle the not matching.

Don't Buy Martha's Tableware, Instead Try Fiestaware or Bauer Pottery- They are known for their colorful plates, but you could get either of these companies' plates in white for a similar fresh and clean look (one more traditional, one more modern). Corelle still makes their plates in the US as well (though they are not owned by Americans anymore) so they may be a good lower cost option (or get a set used! Again, this stuff lasts forever and you can find some really cool things out there).

Don't Buy Martha's Towels, Instead Try 1888 Mills- Made in the US. Pretty, simple, nothing too fussy. Perfect switch. We won't buy towels anywhere else anymore. They do have a mix of sources for their fabric and make, but they are super transparent about it, so you can find the Made in the US ones quickly and easily.

And finally, before you buy her craft gear: 

1. Go to your Local Craft Store- In many places, they still exist! But they won't much longer if people don't go, so this is a grand opportunity. Check with who is working, I bet they have lots of good ideas about what craft supplies are still made here.

2. Check Etsy- Almost every kind of craft supply is for sale on Etsy. It can be way nicer to chat with a real person, and they are often eager to help you get exactly what you need. You can skip Martha's glitter for this one, skip her paper lanterns for the ones from The Paper Lantern Store or Prost to the Host.

3. Utrecht Art Supplies- Put Made in USA in the search on the Utrecht website, and you can find great stuff made here in the States.

4. The Dalee Book Company- You can buy scrapbooks, photo albums, and scrapbook supplies on this website that were made in the USA. Woot!

So Martha, why don't you go mushroom foraging or scallop-searching, and leave the supplies to companies who are actually American? We can all make a difference by sending companies the message that these giant unethical brands do not get our money! Be patriotic by putting your money back into America,

This month is all about buying American-made! Check out the Giant List of Shopping Lists for more ideas of simple switches for a better world!

Want to make your home greener? No matter the size or location, you can limit your waste and make your house have a more positive impact on the environment. Check out the Green Home Page for thousands of ideas on how to do it.

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  1. I LOVE pyrex! I got a big set for Christmas and it was possibly the most exciting gift.



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