Made in the USA + Circular Economy/Zero-Waste Alignment 

Local and ethical manufacturing often goes hand in hand with environmentally sustainable practices, and the two often seem naturally values-aligned.

This week, as I read about workflow and process control in  my Operations and Supply Chain course, I’m contemplating the ways in which “Made in the USA” and “Circular Economy/Zero-Waste” can both support and mutually reinforce one another.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to interview Kim Falkenhayn, President of Okabashi and Oka-B, for Bard’s Sustainable Business Friday Podcast. Okabashi, a family-owned shoe manufacturer based in Georgia, has been creating their durable and recyclable shoes since 1984.

When we choose to manufacture in the US –and pay more livable wage than competitors may pay abroad– we’re compelled to control other costs very carefully to remain competitive on price.

Kim offered valuable insights about the ways in which Okabashi’s local and vertically-integrated operations have supported their sustainability efforts, and vice versa. The company’s on-site manufacturing processes and close relationships with suppliers have supported material and design innovations -resulting in a widely accessible shoe that is both long-lasting and 100% recyclable.

Additionally, the drive towards increased efficiency reinforces manufacturing improvements that minimize production waste to near-zero levels and  pathways for circular material flows within the facility. Kim described some of the infrastructure challenges that US-based manufacturers face as a result of outsourcing trends. At the same time, she had encouraging advice for new MBAs who want to lead business towards environmental and economic sustainability!

Can’t wait to share the podcast with you all when it goes live November 17th. In the meantime, check out the earlier episodes, featuring my talented classmates and a diverse collection of sustainable business leaders.


If you’re not already subscribed to my weekly email, sign up here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s