20 Aug 2014
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Week 3: "Made in U.S.A." Pledge To Buy American

Week 3: "Made in U.S.A." Pledge To Buy American
Since this blog debuted a couple weeks ago  several of you have asked how I brought my family onboard with my plan not to purchase anything new for the next year.  One of you even suggested each of my family members should write about their own decision to kick the consumer habit.

Pigs would surely fly to a frozen-over-hell before any of them would take time to write about opting to live more simply.

But, I can reveal that their collective frustration over not being able to readily find American manufactured goods in stores and their disgust over the loss of American jobs (as companies move off-shore) played a big role in their willingness to join me on my path. Quite simply, they too were fed up with giving our hard-earned money to companies that no longer care about the American worker. Buying used (thus keeping our money here at home) seemed a way our family could lodge a small personal protest against the corporatocracy

My own motivation to consume less is more long standing.

Over the years I have admired those following The Compact and Simple Living Movement .  I was drawn to the environmental benefits of consuming less and wanted to recapture my youthful idealism that was somehow lost along the way. As one Patch reader reminded me - what we're doing harkens back to the 60's when the mantra was "Use it up; Wear it out; Make Do Without." 

One of the first, of many, books I read on voluntary simplicity was the 1980 classic, by the brilliant and wise Doris Janzen-Longacre, " Living More With Less".  (I was pleased to learn this week that a 30th anniversary edition of the book was recently issued and is now available.)  The other book from which I drew inspiration years ago was  The Heart Has Its Own Reasons by Mary Ann Cahill which still seems to be available on the used book market. Much of the advice it offers is timeless whether or not you are the parent of young children.  

What, again, is it we are planning to do this year and how will we find products made in the U.S.A.?

Just to recap from the first two weeks of this blog - the deal I have cut with my family is that we will sort wants from needs. We will try to make do with what we already have by repairing it (or if it is not salvageable by living without it). If we do need to replace or acquire something we will exhaust all reasonable efforts to find it for free or used. If we must purchase something new we will attempt to find it locally from a small business. We will go out of our way to find goods made in the U.S.A..

Our decision to buy locally produced American goods, when used goods are not available, also resonated with Patch readers. One of you urged us to check out the  Made in U.S.A. Info and Search Engine  and an ABC News site with a list of American Made resources 

An on-line search of the topic led us to the Made in America Store website and a Made in America Movement  which is asks people to take a pledge to buy more American products in 2014.

All this thinking about buying American-made goods reminded me of a "A Year Without Made in China" by Sara Bongiomi.  It charts the difficulties her family encountered trying not to buy anything made in China for a year which I plan to re-read this month.

This week's successes, more on the quest for a toaster, tips from Patch readers and other resources:

This past week we accomplished a few things. My husband finished replenishing his work wardrobe after losing weight by making an 8 a.m. Sunday trek to a large thrift store called Eco-Thrift.  The store was packed with shoppers, all looking very formerly-middle-class like us.  (We were surprised by the number of people in there at that hour - but then again perhaps we shouldn't be since early birds flock to garage sales at dawn.) He also replaced his broken ear buds with new-still-in-the-package-minnie-mouse ones at the thrift store for $1.

When I told a fellow shopper there I was looking for a toaster because ours broke she encouraged me to buy a used toaster on the shelf but when we plugged it in and tried it we found it too was broken. She encouraged me to return to look for one, however,  because she said she's bought many appliances there that worked just fine.  A Patch reader wrote this week to report making toast in a gas oven works and numerous Patch readers suggested we look for a toaster on Freecycle . (We had posted a toaster "want" on Freecycle but were only offered a broken toaster oven. I'm guessing most everybody's toasters break before they tire of them and want to give them away.)

Other Patch readers suggested we get a Yerdle mobile app which allows people in their own communities to share free stuff with one another. (It sounds cool, but we don't own a SMART phone.)  Another reader recommended we post our need for a toaster on Next Door , a social site that connects immediate neighbors with one another. 

While most of you thought we were doing a good job so far, one reader took us to task for relying too much on the Internet to locate what we need and suggested my husband could have tried harder to find a used socket at a local flea market where many tools are sold before buying one new. He also suggested we search for a used car seat at other junkyards besides the one we tried. (Point taken, and I agree my husband could have tried harder - but I'm cutting him some major slack at this point. He IS trying to some extent, and that, for me, is huge.)

Here are some other resources you might enjoy checking out this week:

Non-Consumer Advocate - a fun, lighthearted blog by Katy Wolk-Stanley with lots of photos, inspiration and practical tips.

Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping - you have probably seen their street performances promoting no-shopping days on the news each holiday shopping season. They are at work poking fun at our consumer culture year round too!

Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy is a book I highly recommend. She offers lots of frugal tips and just plain sound advice for everyone (Mom or not).  Her website and book, budget calculator, recipes and tips have encouraged me to make changes in how I consume.

Please keep posting about your own experiences and ideas in the comment section below.  We can all learn from one another.  I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Uncle Sam artwork courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.









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