Meet Made in the USA Shopper & Blogger Bill Salawitch
From New Year’s Day 2009 until the eve of the new year of 2010, blogger Bill Salawitch resolution was to buy only American made products. This was no easy feat for him at first, but as the year progressed, he started to get to know the products, clothing brands and food stuffs that were Made in the USA, which made shopping a quicker task. He blogged about the entire process, from his inspiration on why to do it, his initial thoughts and ideas on the self-made challenge, the problems he ran into, and the moral dilemmas that he was continually presented. Bill struggled with his rules of the challenge; the further he got into his challenge, the more the questions popped up. Were products produced in America but with foreign parts okay? What about food prepared here with imported ingredients? Could he purchase internationally made products if they were already used? Also, what was his goal with this challenge? Was he trying to change the way he consumed, or was he trying to help the American economy? Or maybe just help the world’s environment?
At first, Bill had to get into the hard habit of checking the label every time he picked an item up at the store, and before he released it into his cart. It was not an automatic action, instead he had to train himself to do it. Then, Bill had to figure out what to do about the labels that claimed that the product was made in the USA, but made out of imported parts. This was something that he ran into more often than not: beef jerky (jerked here but cows raised elsewhere), coffee (beans grown in tropics but roasted locally), shampoo and shoes were all items he had to decide about in the first five days of his challenge.
There were some things on Bill’s shopping list that he had to give up completely since it was a specialized product that did not have an American made version. He felt that he had three options in these situations– give up on it, have someone else buy it for him as a gift, or look for it used. He looked at Choice B as cheating, so he either shelved some of his desires, or bought them used. Which was another situation that he considered and wondered about– if the item was originally made outside of the USA, then purchased new and used by someone other than himself, when Bill buys it used from the previous owner, does that mean that the foreign-made product was now ‘grandfathered’ into the US? It’s not like his dollars were supporting the foreign manufacturer and suppliers directly. Bill decided to cross the fuzzy line and accepted purchases from thrift stores and garage sales into his year-long challenge since there were plenty of items that he wanted or needed but could not find from a US manufacturer. Basically, his take on it was that these foreign items that have already lived in the US for years or decades were akin to a naturalized citizen; originally an alien, but now an American. Also, he liked the idea of recycling and reusing older items.
What about restaurant food? Where did it come from? For this aspect of the challenge, Bill decided to accept restaurant food as made in the USA since it literally was prepared, cooked and presented to him in the USA. But where did the food really come from? Was it grown or raised here in the United States, or brought in from elsewhere? Although he stuck to food grown locally or in the US while shopping at a grocery store, he accepted the looser standard with restaurant meals, and ate them despite being unaware of where the food was originally raised or grown, since they were at least prepared in the US.
In the end, the challenge helped Bill Salawitch become a more informed consumer, reducing his consumption of things that he really didn’t need, and giving him freedom and empowerment. He challenges you to try it, too, so that you think more about your purchasing decisions.
You can follow his year of buying only American made products at mitusa.wordpress.com. (MITUSA is an acronym for Made In The United States of America).