Could Local Manufacture Be An Answer?

The cost of gas – UP
The cost of food – UP
The housing market – Holy Toledo!
The environment – Uh-oh!

Americans are looking around at a worrying landscape these days. As the cost of fuel skyrockets, we are looking in our wallets to see how to stretch a dollar around the necessities of life. We’ve got a lot of questions to find answers to.

Last week, I wrote about 3 things your local business can provide that the Internet can’t and today, I’d like to take that one step further by exploring the possibility that what we call ‘Local’ may contain an answer to the problems that are causing family poverty and turning our planet into a trash can.

I’d like to know what you think about about local manufacture.

Local manufacture of goods would provide communities with the following considerable benefits:

1) It provides local jobs and creates local economy
2) It cuts down on transportation fuel required
3) It makes communities more self-reliant in case of emergency

The Answer Could Be In My Shower
Last year, I wrote a piece of copy for The Conscientious Home regarding Toxic Plastic 3 In Your Shampoo. The basic point of it is that if you’re buying shampoo with a 3 or a V on the bottom of the bottle, you’re rubbing carcinogens into your scalp every time you wash your hair. Blech, right?

But the problem goes beyond this. I absolutely hate buying any kind of plastic bottles, but I keep on doing it when I need shampoo because my family does need to be cleanly. My conscience and my hair are at war with each other over this issue. Plastic is bad junk. We need to get away from it whenever we can. So many people are starting to realize this now.

If I had an inventor’s brain, the money and the time to go into a new business, I know what it would be. I would invent a powdered shampoo which would be sold in a recycled fiber packet. The powder could be mixed with water in a glass at home at shower time. I’d make it an organic, natural product that performed the basic task of getting hair clean and I’d set to work marketing it to my neighbors. I’d present at local stores and get them to start stocking my no-plastic hair shampoo. I’d blog, I’d network, I’d get people to see that I’d just created the solution to their plastic problem.

I’d employ local people to manufacture the shampoo in a local factory and I’d get the factory powered by alternative energy. I’d do everything I could to keep fuel emissions low and quality sky high.

And I’d be offering something to my region of the world that no one else is. I’d be ‘it’ for planet friendly shampoo.

Would I get rich? No.

Could I make a living?

If I marketed it my product skillfully enough, I just might be able to, and I’d have the soul-satisfying experience of making money while keeping people and the planet healthy.

When my husband and I travel, I’m always fascinated by the local specialties that communities depend upon. Things I’ve never heard of at home like local specialty food products, home industry clothing items, housewares and gifts.

“You’ve got to try Bob’s BBQ Sauce. You can’t get it anywhere but here,” locals tell you proudly.

Can that prideful attitude be extended to more of what we eat, wear and use? Could people make a living wage manufacturing locally? I’d like to know what you think.

Turning Back Time With An Eye On The Future
America was sitting pretty when we made all our own appliances, cars, food and clothing right here in the USA. The competition of the marketplace and the irresistible lure of cheap foreign labor has done the national workingman a dirty turn. And the end result of our choice to outsource so much of our work to other lands? Well, toxic toothpaste and lead school lunch boxes are 2 of the prizes we’ve won in the contest for business.

What if America turned back the clock and re-opened all those plants and factories that are crumbling to dust in places like Milwaukee, Detroit, Allentown and San Francisco? But what if, this time, we didn’t pump our air full of fossil fuel in order to turn out a box of Super Sugar Crunchy Frizzles? What if we harnessed the energy that is literally sitting all around us in the rays of the sun and the force of the water? What if our country could sustain itself?

And, what if we took this a step further in the direction of this healthier, self-reliant future by becoming more regional in our attitudes toward supply and demand? Okay, maybe you’d have to get a car made in New Jersey, but is there any reason your dinneware, your dish towels, your blue jeans or shampoo couldn’t be made by your neighbors? If you knew giving your dollar to the man next door meant your nephew was sure of a living wage job just around the corner when he grew up, wouldn’t you feel your choices were making good sense?

Or, has our nation become too poor to afford anything but the product of inhumane and cheap labor, shipped to us at the cost of our planet’s health?

We are lucky enough to live in a country where we’ve got an abundance of everything we could possibly need to survive: water, natural energy, land, bright and inventive minds.

Every time I turn to Local Search, I recall that I’m making a choice to depend on the resources of my community. The more they can provide for my basic needs, the more I can depend on them. I see so many opportunities here.

Someone really ought to get working on that shampoo.

2 Responses to “Could Local Manufacture Be An Answer?”

  1. on 29 Jun 2008 at 1:26 pm Marc

    I just wanted to add that if you look around, you can find non-bottled shampoo. Lush.com makes and sells solid shampoos that are much, much better than your typical bottled variety. They’re an eco-friendly company, though they might not be local.

    Depending on where you live, though, you can probably find people who make and sell their own solid shampoo. Post an ad on Craigslist or livejournal, and someone will point you in the right direction.

    You’ll pay a small premium, but your hair will thank you for it ;)

    Also, if you want to learn about some cutting edge technology that will bring local manufacturing back in a big way, google “fabrication labs” or fablabs.

  2. on 17 Jul 2008 at 2:51 pm Miriam

    Hi Marc,
    Hey, I really appreciate the tip. I will definitely be checking this company out. I’m excited and appreciate you taking the time to share what you know!

    Please come by again.
    Miriam

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