Why I Buy American

Since you’re visiting the Buying American Blog, you’ve already thought of reasons to buy American. So, instead of listing why you should buy American, here are some of the reasons why I buy American. Some of these reasons we are sure to already share. But perhaps you will find one or two new reasons to appreciate American-made products.

Because Cost is Not the Most Important Thing

One of the main reasons companies make products outside of the US is to save on costs. But companies that focus on cost savings aren’t just focused on cheaper labor—they are focused on cheaper everything. That means cutting corners on design, materials, quality control, etc.

For companies that make products in the US, cost is not the primary goal. These companies could always find somewhere cheaper to make a product. But they make their products in the USA because they value quality, workmanship, and their employees above cost-cutting. These are things I value too.

Because Disposable is a Waste

Appliances, furniture, and other products that should last decades have become disposable.  They last a few years, break, and end up in the landfill. Many products are so cheaply made, they aren’t even repairable. Some companies call this “planned obsolescence.” I call it a colossal waste of resources.

I know I’m not alone. I see others who are increasingly looking for products they can “buy for life.”  But for products to last, they must be well built with top quality components and workmanship. I can still find this level of quality in American-made products.

Because Cheap Gets Expensive over Time

Buying American quality doesn’t just make environmental sense. It makes financial sense. People used to buy shoes and have them resoled. You still can. Alden Shoes and Allen Edmonds both offer American-made shoes that can be resoled and last for decades. These shoes cost more upfront, but the restoration cost is cheaper than buying new shoes of equivalent quality every couple of years. And, as the leather breaks in over time, they get more comfortable.

Another example: Zippo lighters. You can buy (and throw away) an endless series of cheap Chinese lighters. Or, you can buy a made in USA Zippo lighter, change the flints and wicks, and have a lighter that will last longer than you will.

American manufacturers like Alden and Zippo date from an era when Americans were much poorer than they are today. That is not a coincidence. In the past, people bought quality because they were too poor to afford cheap disposable products. And, even though we can afford a disposable lifestyle today, it still makes financial sense to buy quality American-made products that last.

Because How Something is Made Matters

There are several reasons why products can be made more cheaply outside of the US. Most of them are bad. Other countries lack the safety, environmental, and workplace standards common in the US. This leads to cheaper products. It also leads to worse products. From cadmium-laced toothpaste to melamine contaminated pet food, the lack of standards put us at risk. Some company executives may be willing to take chances with their lives and those of others to save a dollar. I am not. When I buy American, I know that I am getting a product that is produced to the highest safety, environmental, and workplace standards. If that costs me $2 more on a $10 product, it is worth every penny.

Because Sometimes a Clock is More than a Clock

Some products are more than just domestic tools. They become part of our daily lives. They follow us as we travel through the years. Prior to the rise of our disposable culture, people valued heirloom quality products. They understood that the clock in the living room or the silverware in the kitchen becomes part of who we are.

Such products are still made in America. For example, Chelsea Clock has been making clocks in American since 1897 and are built to last a lifetime (and more). Chelsea clocks have graced everything from luxury liners to the White House, and owners include famous figures like Harry Truman. When you buy storied American-made products, the product’s history becomes part of your history. A clock becomes more than a clock.

Buying American has become part of who I am. For me, American-made products aren’t just a pile of possessions—they connect me to the artisans who make them and the history we all share. Five dollar clocks made in China cannot do that. They just connect me to the landfill.