Buying American Made Locally?

Last week Sustainable Connections recognized four local businesses for their efforts to increase the vibrancy of our community.  Chuckanut Builders was one of those businesses.  We were awarded the Buying Local award because of the priority we place on supporting local businesses and buying local.

Supporting local businesses is something we have been doing since we started Chuckanut Builders in 2010 and it has become such common practice around here that we can’t help but encourage others to jump on the “Buy Local” movement.  Not only are we buying local, we’re also working to increase awareness amongst our customers and friends of the possibilities of buying local.
The combination of this receiving this award and reading an article about Anders Lewendal, a general contractor from Montana who is building a home out of 100% American made materials, raised the question for us: Is it more important to buy local or buy American made, or can we do both simultaneously?

The materials from Lewendal’s All American home (see list here) comes from 33 states.  We love the idea of prioritizing American made, but honestly haven’t spent much time looking at where each item we use is made.  Our initial question was the cost, assuming it would cost more to buy all American.  Lewendal claims that the all-American home, which is still being built, is running 1-2 percent more than a foreign-sourced house.  Our second thought was, how much time will it take us to find local suppliers that source American made materials?  That isn’t something we can quantify  easily; however, Lewendal’s materials list will definitely make the process easier.

We aren’t promising to make any radical changes to buy only American made, but we are doing some research. The idea intrigues us.  What we are pledging to do is to check with our suppliers and to start the conversation about buying american made, locally.