When I first made the commitment to buy Made in USA whenever possible, I was quickly overwhelmed. Everything, it seemed, was made in China. It was also quite depressing – all I could see were the thousands of lost jobs.

Here is one trick I learned to help reduce overwhelm, and still use today: Read the labels on everything before you buy, then make your selection.

Doing it this way spurs my creativity. What can I buy that’s made in the US? Do I have anything at home that I can use? Is there a Made in US item I can substitute that I hadn’t considered?

For example, I recently needed to purchase a card and wrapping paper for a baby gift I made for a woman in my book club. She was pregnant with her first child (she had a beautiful baby girl).

Normally, I do most of my shopping online, but for this type of quick purchase, I head over to the shopping center in my town.

In the photo above, you can see the card, ribbon, and wrapping paper I purchased from The Paper Store. Finding cards, gift wrap, etc. made in the US is becoming harder because Hallmark has moved production to China, but you can still find a few cards and other items if you look.

I already had the pink ribbon on the roll at home, so I purchased the pre-made curly “bow.” It was made in the US from “imported materials.”

The wrapping paper wasn’t quite perfect — it was “baby shower” wrapping paper. I hadn’t been invited to her shower, but bought it anyway. She didn’t notice. 🙂

For the cards, always read the back. Many of them are made in China now, but you can still find US ones tucked in the slots.

What to do if you can’t find something made in the US? For me, it depends on what I’m buying and how soon I need it. Case in point: the baby gift itself.

I hand-crocheted a baby afghan for my bookclub friend (photo on the left). First one in years! Fun! However, I quickly learned that finding local stores that carry a good yarn selection, let alone Made in USA, is tough!!

The yarn I used is Encore by Plymouth Yarn Company, Inc.; it was made in Turkey (I had two choices: the other was China). Since making this purchase, I’ve been researching Made in US yarns. The closest store that carries a wide selection of them is a two-hour drive from my house. A road trip is definitely in my future.

To sum up, if you’re wanting to support American manufacturing and jobs, start by reading labels. Over time, you’ll learn where things are made, and you’ll know which companies manufacture in the US and which don’t.

You’ll also learn to stock up on the Made in US stuff — because when you go back to buy more, it may be gone. For example, Hallmark off-shored production of my favorite notecards several years ago. It was a very sad day indeed.