A Resilient, Sustainable Community Produces What it Needs

This month we’re reducing paper use and one of my biggest areas of paper consumption is “facial tissue” (kleenex). In preparation for this challenge, I ordered cloth handkerchiefs online. When they arrived, I was dismayed  to see that they had been made in China and each handkerchief had a paper label telling me so.

Really, can’t we make handkerchiefs in the U.S.?

I shared my disappointment at last week’s meeting of the Longfellow Sustainability Group  and we got to talking about local companies where useful products can be found. That led to a conversation about buying local and buying U.S. if you can’t buy local. Someone recommended the website MadeinUSA.com.


At first glance it will put some people off with its patriot language. But whether you are patriotic and want a strong America, or you consider yourself a global citizen with a concern for sustainable communities and a healthy planet, supporting your local economy makes sense.

  • Local products don’t have to be shipped very far, so they use less fuel and need less packaging.
  • Local producers keep important skill sets in the community and build upon them.
  • Of course, local jobs allow everyone to prosper. MadeInUSA.com says that each manufacturing job creates 5-8 additional jobs, such as suppliers, accountants, technical support, distributors and retail personnel who sell the products.
  • And local producers can more easily be held accountable for what they do. Local employers must follow state and federal employment laws, safety laws and environmental laws. We hear an awful lot from some segments of society about personal responsibility, but very little about corporate responsibility. Local businesses have a stronger incentive to be responsible, not just to stockholders, but also to their neighbors.

MadeInUSA.com says it has info on 300,000 American manufacturers. The site itself could use some work. For example, I’d like to know which manufacturers sell direct to the public before I click into them. And when I want to find men’s underwear, I don’t want to see all clothing manufacturers, even those who don’t make men’s underwear. Despite that, I’ll be checking it out more often.

Looking for something more one-of-a-kind, and possibly more local? Try www.etsy.com for hand-made items (only parts of which may be made in America).

What steps are you taking to buy local or buy American?

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