Saturday, May 22, 2010

On Shopping American and Green....

This is what DH bought me for Mother's Day. He got me some fat quarter packs from Connecting Threads. I've been wanting to try their fabric, mostly because they are using all USA grown cotton in their fabrics now. Their regular price on fabric is just under $6 a yard, and their price on fat quarter packs ends up being $5 per yard. I haven't washed any of this yet, but I can tell you the fabric is amazingly soft and nice to the touch.

It's funny how you change your ways of thinking about things as you get older. We've raised five kids on one income, and we've had to cut a lot of corners to do that. Now that we only have one kid left at home, we can think of things a bit differently, but come to find out, it seems we've been doing some things right all along!

DH is thinking greener thoughts these days. He's wanting us to change the way we do a few things to make less of an impact on the environment. Because of his feelings on that, I've been reading quite a few articles on living greener. The funny thing is, some of the things they suggest, we've done all along out of necessity! They suggest you buy things secondhand, which we have always done. My kids always thought buying clothes at a thrift store was getting new clothes. Unlike hand-me-downs, they at least got to pick them out! Most of the furniture in our house is secondhand, and the holes in some of it don't bother me. Not that we never buy new furniture, or new clothes, but the majority of it is secondhand.

The green articles also mention re-purposing and reusing a lot. I have re-purposed things the whole time we've been married. When DH or I had clothes with an unrepairable hole in them, I would cut them up and make kids clothes. Holes in the knees- make shorts. Bottom sheet completely see through, toss it if need be, but make pillowcases out the top sheet, or back a quilt with the top sheet. I've made dresses out of curtains just like Scarlet O'Hara, and even a poodle skirt out of a tablecloth! I've repurposed furniture over and over again, I think I've had old microwave carts in almost every room in the house. My coffee table is an old two-child school desk we bought at a yard sale and the kids used it for years as a desk before they outgrew it. The height is adjustable and on its lowest setting its a fine coffee table.

I got a lot of my fabric stash from second hand stores, or just had it given to me by older relatives who are no longer sewing. It's no wonder I like quilting so much, it's just using up all of scraps from other sewing and not wasting anything.

A while back we stopped shopping at Walmart. We are not supportive of their business practices, so we simply stopped shopping there. I was really afraid we would end up spending a lot more money shopping at other places, but you know, I don't miss it at all. We also don't spend more money, if anything we spend less, because since we are shopping more at specialty (hardware, grocery, book, etc...)stores, we go in with a list and stick to it, where department stores encourage and count on those impulse purchases.

I've recently started thinking about where products come from, and it started innocently enough. We were looking for toys for our grandson, and DH wanted to avoid toys made in China, because they have repeatedly gotten in trouble for using toxic things (like lead paint) in their toys. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find toys not made in China? I started looking for things made in the USA, and I was disheartened. No wonder our economy tanked! We are importing almost everything! How can any country sustain that?

I still buy things made in other countries, including China, because the simple truth is, I have to. There are just too many things that aren't made in the USA at all anymore. Try to buy a US made sewing machine, you can't do it unless you buy vintage. Even a lot of the long arm quilting machines assembled in the US use imported parts. I did a google search on US made fabric. I found one company that makes home dec fabric here in the US. Connecting Threads is the only company I found making quilting fabric with US grown cotton. Their fabric is woven elsewhere, most likely Mexico, but all they'll say is North America.

I grew up in Massachusetts, home of the fabric mills and lots of other industry, paper factories, Milton Bradley games, Buxton wallets, just all kinds of factories. Almost all of the factories are gone now. The fabric mills are now shopping malls, all selling us imported stuff instead of making US goods. It's sad, and the more I look for country of origin, the sadder I get.

My shopping habits are changing again. I rarely go to the dollar store now. It really just sells junky stuff I can live without. I buy less of almost everything, and I don't miss the stuff I don't buy. I'm more willing to pay more to buy something made in the USA than ever before. If we don't support the few manufacturers we have, will they close down too? They say the economy is getting better, but is it? If part of the problem is we are importing more than we are exporting, how can the problem be getting better? If the problem is there are too many Americans living above their means, how can the economy be better without a change in lifestyle?

I was reading a health article in an office yesterday, and it was talking about crafting keeping you healthy and helping ward off depression. It was mainly talking about productive hobbies, not just crafting. The research they had done showed higher happiness levels and lower depression levels in people who produces something, or in their words, had productive works. They compared depression stats today with those of 50 and 100 years ago, and people were happier when the did more work and had less stuff. Hmmmm...... I'd come to that conclusion myself recently too, with no research to back up my opinion.

I know this is a very political post, and pretty unlike me, I try to stick to quilting stuff. I promise my next post will be quilt related, but this is what's on my mind, and that is part of why I write a blog, to say what's on my mind. I am NOT telling you to boycott anyone or anyplace. I am not suggesting I have the answers to the economic crisis. I can only modify my behavior based on what I believe, and I don't even pretend to think most people will agree with me. I read a few vegans blogs, even though I eat meat, and I've gotten some great recipes from them. I am a Christian, but I've gotten info I've used from non-Christians. This was more of a food for thought statement than anything else, so please understand that, and try to be patient if you disagree.


Chakatoria said...

Great fabrics. Can't wait to see what you create.

ann said...

thankyou Melodie for saying what I feel...

Carol said...

Totally agree with your thoughts.