July marks our nation's birthday, and as millions gather to celebrate Independence Day, feelings and ideas of what make the United States great will undoubtedly flood the minds of those attending local barbecues, neighborhood block parties, or fireworks displays. The United States is ripe with diversity, and there's no better way of celebrating this great nation than focusing on promoting American made manufacturers and craftsmen.
While a majority of products found in homes are now produced elsewhere, there are still American companies producing quality products for every facet of life. When celebrating the Fourth of July this year, wave a flag made by Annin & Co, the oldest and largest flag manufacturer in the United States, a company started in 1847. Celebrate American independence by supporting local workers and craftsmen!
Products made in the U.S. not only offer superior workmanship, but they also help promote the U.S. economy. In recent decades, many American companies have moved production overseas, attracted by cheaper labor and production costs in less developed countries. Manufacturing is a crucial part of any economy and has been woven into the structure of the American economy since World War 2; only since the early 2000s has American manufacturing seen a steady decline, and the numbers continue to fall into 2014, but a small group of Americans have made a point of counteracting the outsourcing movement in the United States.
In recent years, more and more companies have tried to shift the focus back to American made products, and even home builders have shown an interest in promoting 'Made in America.' The Building A Better America Council (buildingforamerica.org), a nonprofit organization, was created to promote the manufacturing and purchasing of American made products in the construction industry. Portland, OR's 2013 Street of Dreams featured a home by Westlake Development Group appropriately named "The American Dream," where 97 percent of products used to construct the house were made in America -- from nuts, bolts and lighting fixtures to rescued barn wood featured in the home's rec room.
In January 2013, 84 Lumber (the largest privately held building materials and services supplier in the United States) launched its "We Build American" initiative at the National Association of Homebuilder's International Builders Show in Las Vegas, where it encouraged builders, remodelers and home buyers to purchase and use American made materials in the construction and remodeling of their homes. Partnered with Marnie Custom Homes in Bethany Beach, DE, "We Build American" promotes awareness of the benefits of building American. Marnie Oursler, founder of Marnie Custom Homes, has found the cost of using American made materials is within one-half of one percent of the cost of using foreign-made materials.
The U.S. offers innovation and a high level of talented labor, and products made in the U.S. help keep the American economy growing. Jeff Nobers, Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations at 84 Lumber, said: "If every American builder used just 5-10% more American products in the homes that they build, it would add an enormous number of American jobs in communities across the country. From sawmills in Georgia and Mississippi, to nail manufacturers in Illinois, Americans would be put to work making American products for American homes" (prnewswire.com). It's not just builders who have voiced an interest in American made products, ABC News launched its "Made in America" news section, which provides articles, blogs, news segments and other information spotlighting American made products and services.
Another aspect of American manufacturing that shouldn't be overlooked is the fact that buying products that are made in the U.S. promotes greener and environmentally conscious production standards while preventing worker exploitation. Many items made overseas are done so by people working in appalling factory conditions, paid little-to-nothing for their time and effort. Buying American made products helps U.S. workers make a living wage and sends large corporations a message that taking advantage of cheap labor isn't what Americans stand for.
While it seems as though the options for American made products might be limited, it's just the opposite. Websites such as madeinusa.org, consumerreports.org andmadeintheusa.com highlight companies whose items are still made within the United States, helping home owners and consumers alike locate products and companies that are immediately local, within their state, or in the United States. Another hugely popular site is Etsy, "a marketplace where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods" (etsy.com). Etsy allows consumers to search specific states and cities for anything from home, living, and clothing items to wedding and craft supplies, of which many items are locally sourced and hand crafted.
Made in America products are not limited to small boutiques, online stores and home construction products -- many large American companies feature American products, some of which are staples in U.S. households. All-Clad, located in Canonsburg, PA, is the only bonded cookware manufacturer to use American craftsmen and American made metals in the production of its superior, high-performance bonded cookware. The renowned Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer is still made in Greenville, OH, and Pyrex kitchen containers and bake ware, principal items in almost 80 percent of American households, are still made in Charleroi, PA, where they've been made since the 1940s. The Oreck XL vacuum is still manufactured in its Cookeville, TN plant, and most Weber grills, some of the most popular grills of all time, are still manufactured in Palantine, IL.
Personal preference always takes priority when choosing items for the home or for life in general, but when celebrating Independence Day this year, take a moment to recognize what our nation has to offer in every area of life. American workers and craftsmen help keep our country running -- when shopping for home items, clothing, and anything else for everyday living, don't forget about Made in the U.S.A!