Tired of hearing horror stories about lead in toys, mercury in electronics, and melamine in baby formula? Remember that you can make your voice heard with your purchasing decisions. When you go shopping at your local mall you are likely to find that a vast majority of the products you see on shelves today are made overseas, in places where there is little regulation over the safety of materials and chemicals used in manufacturing. In fact, globalized manufacturing is so ubiquitous these days that a staggering 80% of the world’s toys are made in Chinese factories. That means that it is actually a challenge to find safe, well-made products these days that are made in the U.S. ‘Made in China’ products might be cheap – and that is why they’ve taken America by storm – but at what cost to our economy, our environment and our health?

Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. This Saturday, November 27 American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy. They’re offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for “Likes” of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by visiting the Facebook page and then clicking the “Like” button. While you’re there, learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.


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This year for your holiday gift-giving, instead of heading for the big box stores, consider a more noble option in your gift-giving festivities. By buying local, handmade gifts you can support American small businesses, your family’s health (and good taste), all while coming up with a unique and impressive gifts for your loved ones. There are a ton of amazing, really innovative small businesses all over the US (yes, even in your town), that are making beautiful hand-crafted toys, high-quality home products and gifts that are free from lead, mercury, arsenic and melamine! If you can’t find something local, Etsy is a great place to browse to discover interesting hand-made products, and our own InhabitatShop features lots of beautiful, unique, handcrafted eco gifts that support small buinesses, your health and environment at the same time.

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Yes, handmade local gifts cost more. It’s difficult for local craftsman and American small businesses to compete with overseas manufacturing solely on price. Low wage sweatshop manufacturing has contributed to a consumer culture which is so obsessed with low prices that we are losing our ability to recognize and value quality – even when quality (or lack thereof) is an issue that can seriously impact our health and well-being. If you want to show your support for American small businesses, consider joining the movement for ‘Small Business Saturday’ this Saturday, November 27th. Give a ‘Like’ to this American Express sponsored fan page – and then maybe try taking a meander down your local Main Street (or a virtual meander through Etsy or the Inhabitatshop) to see what hidden gems you can find!

+ Like Small Business Saturday on Facebook

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Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. This Saturday, November 27 American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy. They’re offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for “Likes” of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by visiting the Facebook page and then clicking the “Like” button. While you’re there, learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.