Green Christmas: An All-American List

by - Saturday, December 19, 2015

My Uncle David is so conservative, and I am so not, but we have one (probably more than one, but this is a biggie) issue where we always agree. Everyone should buy American. Everyone!

People can come to it for different reasons, but it is one of those decisions that can reverberate goodness in a bunch of directions- it's better for the environment, our economy, and labor standards around the world. The mere fact that he and I are so much on the same page on this gives me hope for the future: we don't have to share any politics to share the desire to do better for the world around us:

You should buy American because you are a super conservative trying to make America great again or
You should buy American because you are a hippy liberal concerned with the worker or
You should buy American because you are a tree-hugging environmentalist who wants shorter travel distances for their stuff

Again, I love this man to pieces, he is an awesome uncle and a truly great person to have a good debate with, and I agree with everything he has to say on this topic:

"I am impossible to buy gifts for, I admit it, even making a list for myself is difficult, but I do have some affection for some everyday things that I can always use more of. I am a made in America disciple. It may cost more, but you can be fairly sure that the person making it is playing by the same set of government restrictions you are. Supporting the Clean Air Act and buying stuff made in China is the ultimate hypocrisy... but I digress."

TRUTH. So let's get to this 100% Made in America Christmas List!

Light Bulbs- Yes, light bulbs, but not just any light bulbs, some sort of high efficiency, LED solar powered motion detecting technological wonder. The kind that James Bond and Rachel Carson would both be proud to own- and it has to be made in America."

My Thoughts- We just talked about this! Check Ben Jones's list for my first shot at fancy LED light bulbs. Not all are made in the US, but some are and you can check the origin pretty easily. As for fancy light bulb doo dads, Philips makes a wake up LED in the US which looks like James Bond might like it if he enjoys sunrises and gentle wake ups in the morning (I like to believe he does). If James Bond wants to really step up his swimming pool, he could try these color-changing LED lights.

The winner for regular, non-spectacular LED light bulbs which are also made here in the United States (and dim) are Cree bulbs. These might be my new favorite, and you can find a good variety of them. Sylvania bulbs are made in the US as well.

If you are less attached to the LED aspect, you could try newcandescent lightbulbs, which are made in the US and seem to be much more energy efficient than the oldcandescent bulbs. If anyone tries these, let me know how they are!

Records- "The old vinyl kind, except with new music. The digital age removed some of the warmth and tone of the music, and a real analog reproduction rather than a digital simulation captures it all. Call me a snob, but records are better."

My thoughts- As a Seattle-dweller, Sub-Pop records are the first thing that come to mind. Their tag line is "We're not the best, but we're pretty good"- who can fight with that!? They carry lots of cool new bands as well as a couple of bigger names like The Postal Service and Sleater-Kinney.

from Vex Decor
Just to Add- You could buy your Patriotic Hipster Vinyl-lover some upcycled record gear, because you can find all sorts of cool things on Etsy- iPhone covers, bowls, bookends, record album storage,  and oh so many clocks!  I have two favorites- you could gift one of these amazing necklaces from Creative Hands Global that combines recycled materials like records with Kazuri Beads (which we visited in Kenya and employs mostly women and mothers with childcare-friendly hours). The other really cool option is this sconce made out of a recycled record! How cool is that!?!

Cheese- "A good Sharp Cheddar that you can eat all alone and love. If you can buy it at Wal-mart, that's not the right cheese. Local made in some barn along the road in the middle of nowhere (or New Wilmington, PA) is the best."

My Thoughts- I think he pretty well covered it! The best cheese you can find is something local to you, or at the least, made in your region. Not Walmart and probably not one of those stands at the mall. This is a great opportunity to try that small grocery store that feels a little too expensive for your regular shopping. We love Tillamook where we are, but you should find something that is around the corner for you!
from amazon

Gadget Tools- "Something that exudes elegance of design, combines capabilities that have no business being attached to the same handle, but still actually functions. These are never designed or produced anywhere but the good old USA."

My Thoughts- This couldn't be further out of my wheelhouse, but I looked in two great places- Uncommon Goods and the Made in America Store (have you shopped there? Amazing) and found a few things that might qualify? Uncommon Goods was mostly a bust, but I did find this cheese spreader- that counts as a tool, right? Made in America Store had lots of tools including these Slip and Snip scissors, Monkeyhooks, and most fancypants of all, this Bionic Wrench. This Pocket Monkey combines all sorts of tools, and Metrinch (which refers to a revolution in Handtools, I don't really get why) is made in the US too!

You can learn all about tools that are still made in the US here, but Channelock (MADE IN MEADVILLE, PA, People! Why don't we all only own Channelock Tools?), Crescent, and some of Craftsman's hand tools (not power tools) are still made in the US. And please, let's all buy all our hammers from the US, because many companies, including Hardcore Hammers, Stiletto, Vaughan, Wright Tool,  still make hammers here! Down with imported hammers!

EBay Magic- "I remember finding the glass Glenn Miller bust that I bought my father for Christmas on EBay. If he didn't want it, no one would. Search any of my hobbies (1967 Buick, Trumpets, Town Bands, Venango County) and see what unique and interesting thing EBay brings you."

My Thoughts- I was there for the Glenn Miller bust, and it truly was a pretty amazing find. He's right, if you just don't know what to get someone, put a hobby into EBay and you are bound to find something interesting and VERY memorable!

Framed Memories- "In this day of digital point and shoot, I miss having actual prints of good times, good places, and good people. Framed singles or massive collages are equally welcomed, and while printed photo books are cool, they somehow don't have the same vibe as a loos photo."

My Thoughts- Shutterfly does this cool things where you can basically buy a bunch of photo prints ahead of time and then get them in the course of the year (it's cheaper than buying them little by little). You could get a gift card like that, which might be a nice motivator to finally print some pictures out!
from amazon

If you are looking for nice photo frames, my current favorites are Rustic and Refined Design frames, which come in oodles of sizes and finishes, are made in the US, and use repurposed wood! We recently got one of their frames, and it looks great, though I do wish they sold frames with mattes. Frame USA also sells really affordable frames that were made here!

Survival Stuff- "This can be anything from water purifiers to matches to solar chargeable flashlights. Think 'Civilization has failed and if only I had a (fill in the blank with gift here) life would be so much easier.'"

from amazon
My Thoughts- Paracord might be good, and there is lots of it made in the USA. Plus, they are in cute colors, so they might lift your spirits during civilization's death and so on. Hydro Flask Pouches are made in the US, and I think this is what I would want. I also found Mylar blankets, which look absolutely miserable, but I bet they improve on cold weather and no other option. Survival whistles might also be good, and you can get one made in America! You can also get lots of flashlights made here, which seem especially useful.

There we go! Another list completed-

"I know what I have listed is not all that helpful. How do you know if a tool is 'elegant?' Does he really want a picture of a town band from Iowa? What if he already has a solar-powered flashlight with attached nutcracker? Don't sweat it, if I have one and use it and like it, I can always use two, and if I don't have one, or I have never heard of it, that's a home run."

Thanks to Uncle David and good luck to you in all of your shopping! I think I still have three lists in the works that may not make it, but if I don't use these wonderful people's lists this year, you know I will have them up first thing next year. If you are still looking for shopping inspiration, try my Giant List of Shopping Lists!

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