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Green Products Manufacturers

History

Prior to the 1700s, skilled artisans, with the help of assistants, manufactured products. They used their hands and tools to make such items as candles, carriages and wagons, dresses, and pots. They were also ironworkers, bakers, or tobacconists. They belonged to craft guilds and learned their trade through apprenticeships.

From the mid-1700s to the late 1800s, the first Industrial Revolution occurred in northern Europe and quickly spread to the rest of the world. During this time, the development of the steam engine, the sewing machine, Eli Whitney's cotton gin (a machine that separated cotton seeds from fiber), and other innovations changed manufacturing processes and improved productivity. Following the Civil War, in the 1880s, new inventions and discoveries abounded in the United States. This second Industrial Revolution gave rise to railroad expansion, telephones, phonographs, typewriters, electric light, and cars. The industrial infrastructure had early roots at this time as well, with the discovery of coal and oil. Large iron, steel, copper, and silver mines were opened, closely followed by lead mines and cement factories. Mass-production methods were developed and by 1910, electricity had replaced waterpower, thus speeding up the production process.

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, was an early pioneer of large-scale manufacturing in the early 20th century. Ford created assembly lines to improve workflow and productivity and realized the importance of workers and paid them high wages. Ford focused not just on the product but also on the production process.

World War II triggered another spike in the manufacturing industry. Soldiers at war needed equipment and machinery, and manufacturers had to develop products and manufacturing methods to produce and deliver what was needed quickly and efficiently while still maintaining quality control. Until the 1940s, manufacturing was predominantly based in the Northeast and the Midwest. Since World War II, manufacturing companies have opened in the West and South.

Manufacturing in the U.S. has been on the decline for several decades, and in 2010, China surpassed the United States as the largest manufacturing nation. Today, China continues to have the largest manufacturing economy in the world, followed by the U.S. and Japan. With the rise in awareness of environmental issues that began in the latter half of the 20th century, consumers began seeking green-friendly products or products produced in an environmentally responsible manner. Green-friendly products are those that use no materials harmful to the environment, no materials whose extraction harms the environment, or those produced without wasting resources. They may include cleaning products or pesticides made without harmful chemicals, high-efficiency building materials, or products packaged in biodegradable materials.

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