Bobby Hull of Alna bends polycarbonate shields to make face shields as Rick Pelkey of Augusta cuts polycarbonate shields in the background at ProKnee’s manufacturing facility in Whitefield. Credit: Courtesy of ProKnee / Lincoln County News

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My British grandmother lived through two world wars when goods were scarce. “Always buy the best you can afford,” she advised. “Cheaply made clothes don’t last as long as those made well from good materials.” When I look in my closet, I realize most of my clothes are at least 5 years old and some are ten and twenty. I bought my favorite sweater in 1981 at a store in Maine. It seemed expensive at the time, but it still looks new. I’m lucky that being in style — someone else’s style — isn’t my priority.

A Jan. 5 article in The New York Times prompts me to think about the environmental and economic effects of my grandmother’s advice. The pandemic’s chokehold on supply lines is forcing manufacturers to consider the costs of shipping, delays and cheaply made products that quickly fall apart, rip or fray. It’s an opportunity.

I remember Hathaway shirts, Dexter, Bass and Cole-Hahn shoes, and other fine Maine products. It’s time for us to take advantage of the failings of both the supply chain and cheap products made abroad and bring manufacturing back to Maine. Not only will purchasing fewer but better-made Maine products boost the economy and save consumers money, buying less and more wisely may help slow climate change so we tread more gently on our environment.

Barbara Kent Lawrence