Deciding to ride a bicycle for transportation in a place like the US, after years of driving a car everywhere like everyone else, required that I step back and really question the system that I’d accepted all my life. Through this, I realized the absurdity of using a ton of metal to carry myself a couple of miles. This one change has naturally led to reconsidering other aspects of modern society.
Fresh on my mind, following Black Friday, is consumerism. I love a good sale and I am far from a minimalist, with my collections of tchotchkes and overflowing bookshelves, but I feel that objects I bring into my home should have meaning and reflect my beliefs. I do not always live up to this standard, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to buy clothing that was made in the USA or another country known for craftsmanship and decent working conditions, like the UK, France, Italy and Canada. I know this is a complicated issue and many lives are improved by factory jobs overseas, but I personally feel better spending my money in a way that does not support corporations’ race to the bottom. (See “Garment Workers Stage Angry Protest After Bangladesh Fire” and the Clean Clothes Campaign.) Of course, I am lucky enough to have the time and resources for this, but so do most Americans. No one is perfect (I’m typing this on an Apple computer, with its Foxconn manufacturing issues, after all) but that should not stop us from thinking about the issue and making small changes where we can.
Finding products that fit my criteria is, unfortunately, harder than it sounds, but prevents me from buying a lot of crap – avoiding fast fashion and focusing on quality over quantity. And over time, I’ve built quite a nice collection. Last Friday, I realized that everything I was wearing was made in the USA. This made me happy. :-)
My silk blouse and wool skirt are by Steven Alan, boots by Samantha Pleet for Wolverine (a birthday present), tights by Commando (the most comfortable ever), underthings by All USA Clothing, and earrings by Chic Gems.
(Hint on Steven Alan: twice a year he has online sample sales. The fall sale just ended, unfortunately. My skirt was $30 marked down from $225!)
As Mr. Dottie pointed out, the only exception to the outfit above is me: made in Germany. And here is my wonderful mother who made me, visiting Chicago for Thanksgiving. :-)
In regards to bicycles, I have one made in the Netherlands, one in Germany, and one in Taiwan. As much as I absolutely love my Betty Foy in every way, part of me wishes that I saved my money longer to buy a made in the USA frame, like a Sweetpea or ANT.
How do you feel about this issue? Do you have any shopping rules to counter thoughtless consumerism?
If you have tips on favorite businesses that manufacture in the USA, please share in the comments!