Our contribution to the Occupy Christmas movement has asked shoppers to buy local and avoid huge chain stores. We have tried to avoid using the term “Buy American” because we believe the idea behind supporting local economy is valuable beyond the borders of just one country. We have not called for a boycott of imported goods. Instead, the idea is that you should first attempt to produce your own goods (the family garden comes to mind), then rely on your neighbor, your municipality, your county, your state, your country, neighboring countries, and then the global market. Our motto has often been “Think global but act local”. If you live in Canada, you should buy Canadian before buying American. That said, we are seeing a tremendous growth in the movement here in the United States where ‘Buy American’ is becoming a selling point. The message behind Occupy Christmas is catching on and the media has taken note.
“New Occupy Christmas movement sweeping USA”. (1)
From an article decorated with an American flag, reporter Elizabeth Cate from WJXT, Channel 4 in Jacksonville, Florida.
While covering the Occupy Christmas movement, reporter Elizabeth Cate visited a store in Jacksonville, Florida to do research. While we would have encouraged her to find gifts produced in Jacksonville, Florida she was unable to find many items made there or anywhere else in the United States. She did mention she was able to find gift wrap paper that was made in her country. While shopping, she briefly interviewed fellow shopper Linda Dan.
“I do care if it’s made in America; I like to buy stuff that’s made in America. Why? Just because that’s where we live and that’s what I want to support,” shopper Linda Dan (1)
Elizabeth Cate isn’t alone in wanting to promote the message behind Occupy Christmas. ABC News has begun its own buy local campaign. Centered in the United States, ABC news has established a list of gift ideas from US companies who proudly sell products made in the United States. (2) The list is the result of asking for input from viewers and readers as part of their “Made in America Christmas” campaign. (3)
“The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. If that money was spent entirely on US made products it would create 4.6 million jobs.” – ABC News (3)
CNN reports that more and more Americans are taking the Occupy Christmas (4) by taking the Buy American pledge offered by one of the Occupy Christmas Facebook pages. With only 166 likes at the time of this article, CNN is right in saying the site has a small group of followers. However, the very fact that CNN reported on the site shows that the Occupy Christmas movement as a whole is much larger than anyone could have predicted just a few months ago. It seems the message behind Occupy Christmas is spreading well beyond the holiday season.
“Perhaps the clearest sign of its growing popularity is the recent proliferation of websites, blogs and Facebook groups dedicated to setting the record straight. Among these communities, it’s common knowledge that quintessential American brands like Levi’s and LL Bean are mostly made offshore, and the latest news about Wal Mart’s labor policies tends to generate heated discussion.” – CNN Reports (4)
Local Harvest, a community based organization which promotes community supported agriculture (CSA) and a focus on local economy, explains that American grown produce travel and average of 1500 miles before reaching an American grocery store. (5) While Local Harvest explains the distances are vastly larger when produce originates outside of the US boarders, even that 1500 miles will shock most Americans. They warn that the current model for food production and delivery simply will not last forever. If for no other reason than rising fuel prices, Local Harvest and common sense warns that the system will collapse under its own weight. Although this might seem like fear mongering, the banks that were said to be too large to fail did just that not long ago. So did the automotive industry, stock market, the housing market, and many other financially centered institutions. In the face of the global economic downturn, entire nations have declared bankruptcy. Is it really that hard to believe the food industry would be any different?
With the global economy in a global crisis, developing local economy seems to be the logical alternative. If things continue to go as they have for the past few years, a conscious effort to develop those micro economies might no longer be a matter of sending a message to big business during the holiday season. It might be a survival mechanism. We urge you to Occupy Christmas well beyond the holiday season. Making that conscious decision may very well be the best gift you can give your family.