Updated: Feb 12
I don’t know if you have noticed, but more and more people are trying to reduce thier carbon foot print in their day-to-day lives. One of the buzzwords around this initiative is "local", better yet “buy local”. But why? Haven't these people ever heard of Amazon? Fortunately, there are websites, such as Etsy (and even Amazon in some cases), that allow small businesses to sell their products online, which is I love! BUT what is it about taking a drive down the road to the local boutique to buy a blazer instead of browsing popular retail giants online? This is what I found:
1. Buying local helps to boost the local economy - John Rampton from Entreprenuer writes, “one Chicago study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city while only $43 of each $100 spent at a chain retailer." So basically, to improve your local economy, go buy more stuff! From the shops down the street and the farmers market in the park, of course.
2. You know what you’re buying - let’s talk food, for example; if you are buying from a local farmer at a farmers market, not only is the product likely cheaper than at a chain grocery store, but you can also easily find out if the fruits and veggies are pesticide free or if the beef was grass-fed/pasture raised. If you ask, "Were they happy cows?" You can get that answer!
The phrase “you are what you eat” couldn’t be more true. If you eat beef from a cow that was stored on a lot and died a stressful death, you are ingesting the stress hormones that animal released while it was alive. It’s just not worth the consequences that are now being linked to illnesses later in life. Also, why support that type of practice? We shouldn’t, we want happy cows! Buy organic, buy grass fed/pasture-raised, buy local when you can.
3. You get to know your neighbors! Ok, ok for all of you introverts out there, this one's for you too. Believe me, I know getting out there can be stressful and annoying sometimes, especially when I get home from work after talking my face off in meetings all day, the last thing I want to do is put myself out there to get to know someone down the block. I don’t even know if I like them yet and all I really want is a beer. BUT the day your car doesn’t start and you should have been to work an hour ago, you will hopefully know who’s door to knock on to ask for a jump. It feels good when someone has your back. Plus, the hard part is putting yourself out there initially, once you get past that, you might discover someone that will have a margarita with you after a hard day at work or if you're on the verge of tears because your kids have been screaming all day.
They could be the next best friend, that you didn’t know you needed, on the other end of the conversation that you never wanted to have in the first place.
4. Encourages product diversity - each person has unique talents/skills to offer. By strengthening the community’s economy, more and more people are encouraged to explore what job won't just pay the bills, but will also make them happy. By being able to pursue entrepreneurship, that person will also be able to bring a new product/skill/talent to the community. Joe Shmoe doesn’t need to stay at his 9-5 desk job to barely make ends meet if there is more opportunity for growth in the community doing something that he enjoys. Maybe Joe will open a coffee shop, maybe he’ll open open an art gallery, maybe he’ll make shoes, or maybe he’s a coach at heart and wants to start a business teaching private golf lessons. Who knows! With the chance to give it a try though, the opportunities are endless.
Now you might say, “But Kylie, I’m in a season of life where I don’t have any time to drive down to the local shops in my community. Buying online has been a game changer for me.” I get it, I’ve been there. In fact, I am still there to be honest. I’m in the process of trying to MAKE the time to educate myself about what my community has to offer that could replace what I am currently buying at a big box store. With that being said, there are larger companies available online that (for most people) wouldn’t even be in the same part of the country geographically that are moving towards zero waste and practice sustainability. You know what is great about supporting these companies? Larger companies speak louder and faster than smaller ones. Larger companies are watching the trends of their competition, not necessarily Joe Smoe on the corner of your street. Sorry Joe. So you definitely can make an impact by shopping online at some of these larger corporations that are out for the good of the environment.
So. With all that being said, I’d really like to showcase local companies and/or individuals that support the people of the community and have made a positive impact. My hope is that through these showcases, you will be inspired to support the companies/individuals that I mention, while I also encourage you to explore your own community.
Like I said before though, it’s still important to support zero waste/sustainable initiatives that are not in your area if you can’t find a certain product or service in your own community; even if that means purchasing from a larger corporation that champions sustainable practices. Our dollars will drive the market encouraging smaller and larger companies to make changes toward more sustainable efforts - so specifically supporting larger companies that practice zero waste/sustainable efforts is important too (in fact, many larger companies actually started as a “local” company at one point).
So. Here are some definitions to pull from when you're out and about:
The Zero Waste International Alliance states, “The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.” (Updated December 20, 2018).
That definition almost sounds too good to be true (pinch me!) - it is possible though and many companies are moving that direction.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary states, "of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged."
To describe the terms to look for when grocery shopping, I’ve decided to give you a couple of incredibly informative links to pages that describe in detail what you need to consider when you see certain food labels:
And here are some ideas to get you started thinking about what you can do to contribute more to your own community:
Go enjoy a nice dinner AND tip your server (supporting local goes beyond retail).
Take public transportation whenever possible.
Take a stroll down to your local farmers market (what they have to offer is usually cheap and always super fresh).
Adopt or foster a pet from the local animal shelter or designated rescue if you’re looking to expand your family with a fur baby.
Volunteer your time SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE. You don't have to become president of a nonprofit to make a difference; the Salvation Army doesn't raise the money they need to continue thier cause without their bell-ringers volunteering their time on the front lines.
Pick a day to clean up the trash on your street - not just on Earth Day.
Parents. Caregivers. Get involved in the local school. Give teachers in your community what they need to succeed. They are a large part of helping raise the next generation. And tell them thank you for all they do.
Buy gifts at local boutiques for special occasions or if you're just in the mood to shop. Some of my Denver local favorites are Stanley Marketplace, The Source, The Zepplin, South Pearl Street, or Tennyson. List your favorite places to explore in your city in the comments!
Say no to straws and single use plastic or styrofoam. Reduce waste, don't be a litter bug, and take pride in your neighborhood.
Tag local events, businesses and restaurants on Social Media.
Visit one new local brewery (or coffee shop, winery, etc.) a week, or a month. Whatever fits into your schedule.
Check coffee off of your grocery list by purchasing your grounds from a local coffee shop (they don’t burn the beans to a crisp and offer a variety of different flavors and strengths. Many options are organic and/or fair trade, as well.)
Declutter your house by donating to the local thrift shop.
Buy your roses for that sweet someone from the flower shop down the block.
Speaking of flowers, DON'T squish a BEE if you see one. We need them around for so much more than we even realize.
Open your mouth. Tell people about the places that you love to explore around your city.
Share your talents and skills. You are the only one like you; no one else shares the same experiences, lessons learned, talents or the skills that you have gained like you do. You were put wherever you are for a reason.
I hope if anything this post has inspired you to think a little bit more about the importance of supporting local businesses, good causes, and sustainable initiatives the next time you need to purchase something.
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Make sure to leave a comment below with your favorite local business, good cause, or sustainable initiative in your area.
Until next time,
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