mexican piggy bank by fruitflypie
the two answers i got the most were price and planning.
understandable. often, buying handmade – especially clothing, toys, casual jewelry, and stationery – is more expensive. if you don’t have a local handmade gift boutique, you certainly must plan your purchases in advance to accommodate for the time it takes to produce an item or shipping schedules. often, you must plan for the price of the handmade item you’re going to purchase – gotcha both ways.
it struck me that both of these reasons for not purchasing handmade, independently designed, or locally produced goods remind me an awful lot of the central reason for the national healthcare debate in the united states: what is the true cost of where our money goes?
few people disagree that the american health care system is broken. we pay too much for health care that is often dictated by corporations and not by doctors. we are treated like cogs in a machine of cookie cutter care. innovation is discouraged. quantity is rewarded over quality. the poor are ignored and the rich can buy whatever they want. in the middle, there are choices – many revolving around prevention, just getting by, or emergencies.
because of premiums, copayments, and high deductibles, we’re often forced to consider the immediacy of our dollar instead of the long-term effect it can have, the true cost.
in the current system, the rich pay for themselves, the government pays for the poor & the elderly, the middle class pays an arm & a leg, and the uninsured pay for it with their lives. if we choose to invest differently in health care – individually or as a nation, you support preventive care, you support quality care over quantity of care, and you support the livelihoods of each level of the healthcare system, not just bigwigs padding their wallets, saving money in the long run. the true cost becomes improving your health and the health of the community!
what does the true cost of health care have to do with the true cost of handmade? when you choose to buy in a big box store (and don’t forget that buying manufactured goods is a choice too, not a given), you are often paying to support shoddy materials, throw-away culture, cookie-cutter style, unfair working/living conditions, and bigwigs in suits who pad their wallets with your hard earned cash (sound familiar?). before you write your hate mail, let me be clear: i shop at target and i’m very much like you. but i’ve also been sourced with the task of furthering this conversation, so please hear me out.
pricing & planning
while there are plenty of deals to be had on the handmade marketplaces, when you’re dealing with a craftsperson who knows her business, her product, and her market, you’re probably going to pay more. but consider carefully what you’re paying for:
- quality – generally, we don’t dispute that goods made with quality materials and well-trained craftsmanship are of higher quality
- scarcity – in a good way! you’re paying to make sure you’re not the 5th girl in the room with the blue old navy dress on
- efficacy – you’re often paying for a product that you’ve had input in its creation. not something made by the hundreds of thousands that will only marginally meet your needs
- livelihood – you’re supporting someone living and working in a free society with higher costs of living
planning, well that’s tougher. here are some ideas for helping you plan your next online handmade purchase:
- use your calendar to not only mark birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings, use it to mark shipping deadlines too. generally, two weeks is plenty of time!
- consider purchasing household or personal care items in batches. need cleaning supplies? make up? soap? make a list of those things you need on a regular basis and purchase them all at once. reducing impulse shopping by avoiding places like target will help you save the money you need to purchase in batches. you can also use this technique for hostess gifts or stationery.
- use your weather forecast. want to buy handmade or independently designed clothing? consider the first weather change of the season as a sign to take inventory of your wardrobe and purchase accordingly.
- updated: purchase locally when possible! scout out your area for gift boutiques, mom & pops, & other small boxes. check out khristian’s series best of the bricks for ideas.
when you purchase handmade, locally produced, or independently designed good, the true cost supports people in your own community or one like yours.
so what does health care have to do with buying handmade?
i work really hard for the money i earn. my husband does too. i know you work equally as hard whether it’s at a desk, in a factory, in retail, or on your craft. instead of sending my money overseas or to people who just don’t need any more money, i want to send it to people like you and me. i want to support environmentally friendly materials and sustainable business practices. i want to support prevention instead of emergencies. i want to support quality over quantity. i want to support doctors, nurses, craftspeople, creative businesses, and other people who care about dollar signs as well as (not instead of) my family. i want my money – whether i have a lot or a little – to help shape the world i want to live in.
the price of healthcare and the price of handmade isn’t so great – the investment of time & planning isn’t so great. the true cost is not that much, not when you can change things for the better. next time you go shopping, stop & think – what is the true cost of what you’re purchasing? where are your dollars going?