Do you ever wonder why it’s better to support local small businesses rather than shop at larger chain stores? Do you think the ‘shop local movement’ is a trend that will soon fade? That small, niche stores claiming to provide healthier products are overpriced? Do you even think of these things when you shop or do you just look for the most convenient and cost effective options?
I never understood how or why shopping at large chain stores negatively impacted local economies, nor did I really care. I didn’t think about my consumer choices much more than where could I find the best deal for the things I needed and wanted. As I got older I started to pay more attention to the choices I was making, mainly in terms of the environment and the negative impacts the consumer world was having. Conservation and resource management started to become topics that interested me and I wanted to make a difference somehow, to do my part. I didn’t really know how or where to even start, I’m just one person & the environmental issues the world is facing are obviously much larger than me or my decisions alone! How could I make any kind of real impact or difference? My desire to ‘reduce my carbon footprint’ grew and I actually wanted to know how making different choices could create positive change, even if just within my own life. Once I had my daughter, it wasn’t just about me or my life anymore. I want to teach her how to love and appreciate the world around her. I want her to grow up and live in a healthy environment.
Here are a few points that helped me understand the positive impact shopping local can have on the bigger picture.
- Locally owned small businesses reinvest in the local economy at more than twice the rate of large chains & create the majority of local economic growth.
- Thriving local businesses often hire other small businesses to perform support tasks &/or provide raw materials and resources thus creating an ecosystem of local businesses that support each other.
- Buying from small businesses that source local products can reduce the environmental impact that national chains impose in their transportation of goods.
- Transportation by shipping produces 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and uses 11 billion gallons of fuel per year internationally; the amount of sulphur oxide pollution that comes from the 15 largest transportation ships equals the combined amount coming from all the cars in the world.
- Trucks and trains are responsible for 25% of smog-causing pollution and the majority of the cancer threat posed by air pollution; 1.2 billion gallons of fuel and about 150k tons of nitrous oxides are expended each year by transport trucks idling at rest stops.
- The average “megastore” consumes disturbing quantities of land for commercial use. Most local merchants use land more productively and occupy existing structures contributing less to pollution, congestion, habitat loss and urban sprawl.
Change is hard but the smallest change can lead to big rewards! Supporting & shopping at small local businesses reduces the negative environmental impacts of large, box retailers and benefits the bigger picture, for us and our children.
“When you buy something made by a person, there is something special there, and you do feel it. The consciousness with which a thing is made is often more important than the thing itself” J. Donald Waters.