Who knew that buying a spool of ric rac could be a political statement? Just like any other large corporation, though, some large craft store chains wield their money as political speech or use their resources to try to influence policy.
Hobby Lobby recently came under fire for suing for the “right” to deny employee’s coverage for emergency birth control under their health insurance plans. Thanks to some of the recent aspects of Obamacare that have gone into effect, insurance companies are required by law to cover birth control along with other women’s health services like pap smears and mammograms. Hobby Lobby’s owners are saying that covering emergency contraception infringes on their freedoms of speech and religion.
Obamacare’s birth control clause contains an exception for religious organizations – like churches – if birth control conflicts with the organization’s beliefs. They’re also calling the morning after pill an “abortion-causing drug,” which it is not. The morning after pill prevents implantation, just like daily birth control pills do.
Hobby Lobby isn’t the only craft store making large political donations. Do you guys remember BuyBlue.org? Back in 2004, the now-defunct website rated companies based on their political donations on a percentage red or blue scale. A company scoring 100 percent red donated strictly to the Republican party, and one that rated 100 percent blue donated only to Democrats. Buy Blue is no longer around, unfortunately, but I was able to find a commentary on the site that lists some of the 100 percent red and blue companies, including two craft stores:
- Michael’s got a 100 percent red rating.
- JoAnn Fabrics got a 100 percent blue rating.
Of course, this information is from two elections ago, so you’d want to take it with a grain of salt, but it illustrates that when you shop at a big corporation, you’re giving up control of your money to that company’s ownership.
So, what’s an ethical crafter to do? The best way to tell these companies that you want their money out of politics is to stop giving them your money. The answer is: shop small. On the next page, check out some resources for small companies where you can feel good about buying your craft supplies!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by daysofthundr46
You don’t have to hit the big box store for craft supplies!
In fact, when you buy from these smaller companies, you’re doing more than just keeping your money out of politics. You’re voting for small business, for independent artists, and against giant corporations. Everybody wins! Except for Hobby Lobby. The bonus? When you skip the big box store, you can often find much eco-friendlier craft supplies, like organic fabrics, vintage notions, and petroleum-free crayons.
- Create for Less - This is an online craft supply outlet that I’ve used many times. They ship quickly, have great customer service, and are a relatively small business. Their stuff isn’t always the eco-friendliest, but neither is the stuff at Hobby Lobby.
- Etsy – I’m going to also list a few of my favorite craft supplies sellers on Etsy, but many crafters are selling supplies – including a lot of handmade, eco-friendly supplies – on Etsy. Check out their supplies section to help you weed out finished goods and shop craft supplies only. You can also shop the vintage section for fabric, findings, and ephemera for paper crafts.
- Local independent stores – Does your town have an independent fabric store or even an indie shop that sells craft supplies? Throw them your money!
- Felt-o-Rama – This is a small, online shop that focuses on all things felt. I used to buy their Kunin recycled felt to make apron embellishments back when I was selling my crafts. They ship fast, and their customer service is great.
- Near Sea Naturals – This is a great resource for all kinds of organic fabric and sewing notions. If you’ve had a hard time finding organic cotton stuffing or batting, this is the place!
- Earth Grown Crayons – Handmade, durable soy crayons in cute shapes? Don’t mind if I do!
- Noonday Textiles – Jay sells beautiful organic hemp fabric blends that she hand-dyes with eco-friendly dye. Who needs Hancock Fabrics (who donated to the Romney campaign, according to Open Secrets) when you’ve got indie fabric sellers like this? When I made lunch bags for sale, I ordered from Noonday Textiles on a regular basis. Her fabric is high quality, and she will do custom dye jobs for you, if you need something that she doesn’t have.
- The recycle bin – Before you toss that junk mail, security envelope, or glass bottle in the recycle bin, ask yourself if it would make a useful craft supply first!
- Your local Creative Reuse Center – Creative Reuse Centers are popping up all over! They take in donated craft supplies and sell them at a discount to schools, individuals, and organizations. To find out if there’s one in your area, I’d try googling “(your town) Creative Reuse Center.”
- The thrift store – From harvesting fabric from old mumus to collaging with thrifted magazines, your local thrift store is a treasure trove of craft supplies, if you go in with an eye for reuse.
Of course, these are just some of the indie craft supply resources that I’ve used in the past or stumbled upon recently. Do you have a favorite independent craft supply maker? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!