One very simple thing we can all do to bring jobs back to the United States? Sign me up.

This holiday season, if you're buying gifts for people, you might have to endure, at some point ... ahem. This:


GIF is from "South Park."


Holiday shopping can be a grind. But even though you're busy, there's an admirable reason to stop and think for a moment about what you're buying.

A lot of what you see in the mall or online is made in other countries, often in subpar working conditions. But you have a choice.

If we try to find just a few more American-made items, it can mean so much for people in this country.

Jobs. Employment. Wages for your neighbors.

One of the reasons the recession was so hard to rebound from is that we've lost so many of the good-paying jobs to outsourcing — that is, sending jobs overseas. When that happens, other jobs go with them.

It's not just the widget-makers who lose their jobs. The surrounding communities do, as well.

The local grocer, and hairstylist, and pub, and restaurants, and lawyers, and dentists ... all kinds of jobs disappear when factories close and move overseas.

Many of the white-collar jobs that support manufacturing also go.

Here's a short piece of the video below that illustrates it in the form of a menacing magnet, sucking up all the good jobs. "Magnet-zilla," if you will.

GIFs from Million Jobs Project/YouTube.

I've lived in Michigan for over 25 years, and when auto suppliers or even automakers close their doors, this is exactly the effect.

When jobs move overseas, the surrounding neighborhoods and communities are drained of their economic lifeblood.

Here's an example from Detroit's Southwest side:


Delray neighborhood, Southwest Detroit. In 1930, this area had 23,000 residents. In 2010? 2,300. Womp womp. Image by Notorious4life/Wikimedia Commons.

"OK, smart guy, what do you propose to do about that?"

It turns out it's not that hard to make a difference. It could be as simple as buying one more American-made item for every hundred purchases you make. Just one.

Yes, it really is that simple.

The folks from the Million Jobs Project, an organization trying to raise awareness about this concept, have consulted with economists who say that all it takes to get jobs going again is for each of us to spend 5% more on American-made goods. When you fit that into your holiday shopping, that likely amounts to just one gift.

Where can you find American-made goods?

The website for the Million Jobs Project has a list of goods still made here.

Here's how you can make a difference, as explained in the video:

"Out of 100 purchases you make, maybe 20 of those are already made in the U.S., and all you need to do is buy one more American made thing. That's 5%. Just one more thing."

Not much to it.

I'm in. You?


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.