The wonderful thing about the Made in USA Challenge is that anyone can get involved and every little purchase or choice you make as a consumer can make an impact. You do not have to commit to a pure 100% made in USA lifestyle to make a difference. Taking the time to be informed, research your purchases and making realistic changes to your spending habits is the key to becoming a more conscious consumer and joining the made in America movement.
The Made in USA Challenge
Look for Made in USA first.
Checking the labels on everything is the essential first step. Taking a few seconds to flip over a product to look for the “made in” tag is an easy and important way to identify goods made in America. Though the terms on products making claims to be American made can be confusing, the “made in USA” designation means that a majority (over 75%) of the manufacturing of a product took place in the USA. When I can’t find something made in USA or the there is no country of origin labeled I always inquire with the store associates or manager of the shop I am in. I do a lot of research on the internet for purchases made both on and offline to find made in USA options, which I am compiling on the Made in America Master List.
Research companies and products.
There are many variables I consider to make an ethical shopping decision. In addition to being American made, I evaluate products for their environmental impact, human rights concerns and safety ratings. There is a lot of information about companies’ corporate responsibility initiatives you can find online and resources available to help you research the impact of your purchases. Some of the tools I use regularly include: Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, Know More, Good Guide, and Free 2 Work.
When made in USA is not available, buy used.
For some products, made in USA options are simply not available. This is particularly true for electronics. For such purchases I frequent the local Goodwill, thrift and consignment shops for gently used products. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find some thrift store used goods that were made in USA. When buying used products made overseas, you are at least avoiding supporting the manufacturer with your purchase and are minimizing the environmental impact by reusing something and keeping it out of the landfill. Other perks are the great deals you can score that often benefit a charitable organization.
When made in USA is not possible, buy fair trade.
Some products can not be made in America because their ingredients are not native to the United States. This is particularly true for some food items, including fruits and oils. I look for fair trade certification when buying imported goods like tea and chocolate for the assurance that the products was made under fair labor conditions. To achieve fair trade certification, a product must be made in accordance with rules governing human rights, labor laws and environmental regulations. Fair trade also presents the opportunity to help empower workers from impoverished areas making handcrafted goods.
Be more mindful of all purchases.
When you challenge yourself to buy locally made products, you are by default becoming more conscious of your consumption. Doing the necessary research to ensure a product is made in America and meets your standards makes you a more informed consumer. Buying made in USA has made me more mindful of my spending in general, only buying products I truly need and eliminating impulse buys. This philosophy is partially responsible for helping me save money by buying made in USA.
How You Can Take the Made in USA Challenge
Anyone can the challenge to by made in USA. Our power as consumers is great and we vote with every dollar we spend. Follow these suggested steps to join in!
Evaluate your current spending.
Take a look at your current spending habits and identify changes you can make to include more American made options.
Set a goal for buying made in USA.
Set a goal for yourself. It may mean committing to buy one American made product a month, making half of your purchases on made in USA goods, or whatever benchmark is reasonable for you and your family.
Start checking labels and doing research.
Look for made in USA whenever you go shopping, and ask for American made options in stores. To take advantage of the research and experiences I share in my made in USA Challenge, you can subscribe to the blog posts, utilize the Made in America Master List, and join the discussion on the Made in USA Challenge Facebook page.
Share your intentions with friends and family.
Spreading the word about the importance and benefits of buying made in USA is vital to grow the made in America movement. Letting your friends and family know you are on a mission to buy made in USA helps keep you on track with your goal, inspires others and generates a conversation about buying American made.
Have you taken the Made in USA Challenge? Leave a comment with your intention for buying made in USA and how you plan on achieving the goal you decide upon. Stay in touch and share your struggles and accomplishments on your journey to becoming a more conscious consumer!