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We are constantly being encouraged to buy local by environmentalists and community-minded people. But is it the best option for us, the general citizen? What are the benefits of buying local? How does buying local really help us? Here are some of the reasons why we should seriously consider buying local.
- When you support local businesses, you are ensuring that people within your community have a job. The more money you spend locally, the more local jobs there will be, even if the company they work for has its headquarters elsewhere.
- When local business is locally owned, the money you spend in that business stays in your local community. This means that more money is then spent within your community, making for increased jobs, opportunities and services.
- You support the local economy when you shop locally, keeping your town, suburb or local area viable and productive.
- Local businesses, owned and operated by local residents, tend to support the community in which they live. This means that they support the local sporting clubs and organizations, the schools and churches. Locally owned business help the community in many ways to make that community stronger and a better place to live.
- Local businesses have often been developed in answer to a specific need within their community; this need could be unique to that area. This ensures that the needs of the community are met and services and goods that are required are provided locally.
- Convenience is a big benefit of buying local. What you need is available right on your doorstep, when you need it. You do not have to travel in order to source what you need; you have it right there, close to where you live. As well as the time saving, you also save in travel costs and the associated stress of driving in traffic.
- Many people comment that they get better service from local businesses than they do in areas where they are not known. There is a greater sense of community in local businesses.
- Shopping locally also helps the environment. There is a huge saving in fuel consumption because people are not driving long distances to shop. Locally produced goods have not traveled huge food miles to get to their destination, saving the use of non-renewable petroleum which creates pollution to the natural environment.
- A strong local economy ensures the long-term viability of the area and attracts new residents. The influx of new residents means growth and prosperity for the community.
- When you buy locally grown produce the benefits are many. You are buying fresh from the grower, so the food is more nutritious. Also, most locally-grown produce has been grown organically, without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, both so you and the environment benefit. Plus, the food has not traveled huge miles to get to you and so the saving on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions is considerable.
- Shopping locally helps to create a cohesive local society, bringing together all sections of the community. People tend to be happier and more content when they feel part of a community and can contribute the success of that community.
Note: Buying local does not always ensure that you are buying locally-produced goods however. When you do buy local though, you can talk to the people selling the goods to find out where they have been produced and how far they have traveled allowing you to make informed buying decisions. Many multi-national companies have noticed the trend to local shopping and have developed their own smaller “local” enterprises to cash in on this trend. Talking to the sellers will uncover just how ‘local’ the goods are.
I can attest to all of the benefits I mentioned above because in our own household, we work hard at buying as many locally produced items as we can. Here are some of the things we do:
- We support a CSA every summer where we are supplied with organically grown produce that is grown only 2 hours away from home.
- We also buy Canadian grown fruit when we grocery shop. My central Canada climate isn’t the best for fruit production, however we do pretty well with berries. Hanging out in the local berry patches is a staple summer activity.
- If we do go out to eat we often dine and local restaurants that are not part of a chain. Not only do we like the fact that we are supporting one of our community members, but we also find the food is higher quality and better priced.
- We also pay for locally sourced electricity. This is huge because the revenue that is generated supports numerous initiatives that happen within the province.
Where you live will play a role in what you can buy local and what you can’t so the list of items will be different for everyone. However, everyone can work towards the same goal of buying local as much as they can. If you think about it- if everyone around the globe bought local, every country would be a first world country and things like poverty, starvation, etc. would be reduced, pollution would be cut drastically, and people would have a healthier mental state and live much happier lives. The question to ask then is “why would you NOT buy local?”
So readers, how much effort do you make to buy local? What kinds of things do you buy? What benefits have you found from supporting local producers?