Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Made in the USA

Last night at dinner I cheerfully announced to the family that for the remainder of 2008 we are going to buy only products made in these United States of America. Ben didn't say much except 'why'? and I answered that I thought it might be important for us and the kids to pay more attention to where the things we buy come from, and that how we spend our money ought to help people here at home.

The motion passed - 1 enthusiastic vote and 3 here-she-goes-again votes.

Like Barbara Kingsolver, the author who wrote "Animal Vegetable Miracle" about spending a year eating only local food, we had to decide on some exceptions to the rule. Like Barbara we chose to exempt coffee (mom, dad) and unlike Barbara chose to exempt bananas (7yo, 4yo). Sorry, but there's only so much one can do with apples, applesauce, and frozen berries. Florida citrus is in. Colombian grapes are buh-bye. Maybe next year we'll ditch the bananas.

I think that our biggest challenge will be with clothes. We made a little subrule there too. If we cannot find clothing for the kids that was made in the USA, we'll allow second hand clothes from garage sales, re-stores or Goodwill/Savers/St. Vincent de Paul. Also allowed are what the 4yo calls "handy downs" from older cousins.

I wanted to get a new laptop this year. I'll have to ditch that idea. Waiting until next year isn't going to change the world, that's for certain, and I realize it is just a deferment, but a big part of this challenge is for us to stop and think about the things that we buy, rather than just gettin' and spendin' and layin' waste our powers.

We haven't decided how to handle gifts from others. I guess we'll just have to go with it and graciously accept something given to us, just as long as the kids don't use birthdays and christmas lists as an endo around the rule. We did decide that Ben's work supplies will have to be exempt. He may use that as his own endo. That would be cheating.

I will keep you posted throughout the year on what we find.

>>Before I could hit post, Ben called. He wanted to know if he should buy some Christmas lights he found on sale for 50 cents a string. "Where were they made?" I asked. He said he'd check. Bet we aren't getting cheap lights.


Splotchy said...

You R-O-C-K in the U-S-A, Jess.

I hope it's not too disruptive to you and your family. You're doing a good thing.

Matty Boy said...

Best of luck with this, Jess. It's not gonna be easy, but it's a noble effort.

no_slappz said...

Fascinating. Live only on American-made goods. Can it be done?

How about gasoline? Are there any gasoline retailers marketing 100% refined American crude?

Home heating oil? How about the stove? Natural gas? A lot of it comes from Canada. Check with your utility company. Canada is a likely origin for gas piped to people living in the northern stretch of the US.

Computers? I guess it doesn't matter if the company itself is American? Like Dell or Apple.

Shoes are tough. Sneakers. Maybe some.

Furniture? I guess IKEA is out.

Flowers? A lot of cut flowers once came from Zimbabwe. But Mugabe, the benevolent dictator currently destroying the Zimbabwean economy, ended that. Hence, local flowers, when available, will fill the gap.

Wood? Lumber? A lot of that comes from Canada. Paper too. Canada builds some of the aircraft used by domestic airline companies. Our airline companies get aircraft from Brazil and the European consortium as well.

Then there's the nagging fact that many products that are mainly domestic contain a few parts that are not. The platinum in catalytic converters, for example. Or titanium.

However, thrift stores offer some of the greatest bargains in this economy, especially when it comes to books.

Distributorcap said...

oh jess--- you got slappzed...

good for you -- i know how tough it is

Jess Wundrun said...

Actually for a change, slappy makes some excellent points about how difficult these choices are.

He does seem to have skipped the part where I am putting a computer on hold for this year, probably along with any other electronics purchases.

Gasoline sort of fits in a category with bananas and coffee. It is worth a look to see where mine is made. An exception can be made for 100% Venezuelan.

But I can answer: furniture- a large ticket item, we will either postpone or will gladly put the effort into looking for a US company. True, one can never track down components, but I think there are still mills in NC. Worth a look.

Flowers are a no-brainer. Farm market, and they grow beautiful flowers at my pick your own farm.

Ditto the wood and lumber - projects will need to be thought out, but we have a few sources of locally harvested and kilned wood.

I have no plans on purchasing a catalytic converter.

Here's one we didn't consider: batteries. They are all made in china now, but we've decided that we'll spend up and only buy rechargeable. That is another lesson in thinking about what you buy and not just grabbing batteries off the end cap at the grocery store.

Medicine is very tricky, too. As are personal health care items which are very complicated and I will post on that later.

A side note to slappy: you've behaved yourself and made salient points. Bravo. Do not think that I won't delete your comments if you cross the line again, though.

Tengrain said...

American Apparel is all made in the US, and in non-sweatshop conditions. Yeah, it costs more, but it is worth it.



FranIAm said...

Great post - great idea!

Good for you. I am doing more and more about buying really local food.

Did you hear that scary cloned food is ok story? Yech!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Good for you Jess. Keep us abreast, tee hee I just said "breast to a girl," on how it goes. Sparky and I have been buying food that is grown or raised in the USA. No more Chinese swill or asparagus from Peru. And those Chileans can keep their grapes.

Dr. Zaius said...

Jeepers! Does that mean that you can't watch Godzilla movies?

(You are an example for the rest of us. Good for you, Jess.)

Sorghum Crow said...

I am in awe. Keep us posted. (Alas, I used all electrons imported from hydro-Quebec to create this message.)

CDP said...

I hope you'll post often about this. We've been thinking about it too...and nice take on Wordsworth.

dguzman said...

Definitely a worthy quest, Jess! The clothes is definitely the hard thing, as you and Slappy noted that you can put off other stuff or reconsider it. I love spring and summer and early fall, when I can grow my own veggies and fruits! I too hope you post on this often. I can steal tips from you to impress The Kat!

Westcoast Walker said...

I like your post. A noble and increasingly necessary endeavor indeed. Local is the way to go!

My wife and I are trying our best to do the same. We live in Canada and have tried to narrow it down to "made in North America" if we can't find the directly local equivalent, especially for clothing, toys and kids stuff.

If you look at all the blog traffic and interest in this topic you would think some companies would step it up and rethink the whole outsourcing of production process. Any company that can proudly proclaim to make products locally is going to make a mint in this day and age.

They times they are a changin' (I hope)

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