A few years ago, my amazing cousin Kate Bryden wanted to learn more about where her clothes came from. You'd think this would be a simple task...but nay! When she couldn't find what she was looking for, she started an initiative called Povigy (poe-VEE-jay) with a mission to increase consumer education on the origin, sustainability and ethics of the products we use and buy everyday.
Anyways, I got curious too. Where did my stuff *actually* come from? Instead of just buying things willy nilly like I used to, I started researching companies' sustainability, environmental and manufacturing standards before I handed over mah money. I took it a stop further with a personal challenge to only buy things made in the USA. Bonus points if it was made in my state.
Little by little, my shopping habits changed dramatically.
I've been wanting to write this post for a really long time because it's something I'm passionate about. After all, more than 300,000 jobs are outsourced from the United States each year (!) with 68% of large consumer-product companies sending these jobs overseas. But guess what? We have <clap> a choice <clap> of what <clap> we buy.
Without further ado, here are the 4 main reasons why I try to buy "Made in the USA" whenever possible.
1. I LIKE TO SUPPORT LOCAL MAKERS
When you buy something that is made in the USA, it keeps money in the community, which supports the livelihoods of craftspeople, makers and builders. And when there's a factory or small business making things within a community, it creates jobs. And in my experience, having a job to do gives me an individual sense of purpose, value and pride. It's been proven time and time again that a job-rich community dramatically reduces crime and poverty. And when jobs leave our shores, the quality of the products themselves also seem to deteriorate -- all for the sake of mass production and the lowest bottom line. There is so much pressure on big business to make big profits, so I especially admire those that have kept manufacturing stateside!
2. IT'S BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
There are a lot of environmental benefits to buying locally. For example, when I buy something that was "Made in Faraway Country I Haven't Been To Yet" that item has had to travel thouuuuuusands of miles from a factory to my home. That's a lotta jet fuel. That's a lotta shipping material. Many times, it's also supporting the continuation of poor working conditions. And this isn't always the case, but a lot of things are produced abroad because it's cheaper. And cheap stuff ends up in the trash after a few uses or a few wears.
3. I LIKE CUSTOMER SERVICE
It's much easier to reach a customer service representative if I ever have a challenge or question about the product. These businesses are motivated to maintain their reputation of quality and therefore, will do anything they can to make it right to help you stay loyal to their brand. For example, I called Robeworks to confirm their factory location for this blog post and a REAL LIVE HUMAN picked up the phone right away and talked to me!
4. IT'S A PRETTY HARD CHALLENGE
This is a very weird reason, but hear me out. It's more challenging to source products made locally. Sometimes, it's slightly more expensive. But I've found that while buying locally is harder, it is extremely rewarding and it's made me a smarter consumer. For example, I check the label on every item of clothing before I get attached to it or consider buying it. Instead of just buying whatever is in front of me, I'll do a little research to see if a product made locally is available. Instead of buying a new pair of slippers each year for several years, I'll save up and buy one pair for $100. I have become more intentional about the items that I bring into our home, particularly clothing, furniture and home goods. I don't buy as much as I used to, so there's less clutter. Ultimately, I've ended up buying fewer, better things.
Lastly, I want to say that I'm far from perfect on my quest to buy local products. But it's a quest that helps keep me accountable to my conscious, help the environment and support local makers. Please let me know in the comments or send me a message to let me know why you like to buy local in your community!