Let’s Buy Local, Be Sustainable!

Close your eyes.

Picture your favorite fruit in your hand right now. Or favorite handbag. Or most priced piece of artwork hung proudly in your home.

What do you think of?

The blood-red coating on the ripest apple that you can see your reflection in? Your trusty designer handbag that can hold your phone, umbrella (Monsoon season must) and lipstick snugly in??? OR you see the local farmer or crafts-person working tirelessly not only to support his/her family, the community and also produce something beautiful?

In this day and age, it seems that large corporations run the world, and as someone who has spent a year living in North America with a Starbucks on every corner, (literally, the street I lived on opened a new Starbucks only 0.3 mil away from the existing branch) I can definitely vouch for this mentality.For Example, Burgers. (Veggie, of course) 

For me, every day is an experience. And the experience of having a unique, thoughtfully crafted burger in a quirky little restaurant with a personality, appeals to me far more than the bland consistency you get when you visit any McDonalds in the world; They’re all the same. And I think one of the most exciting things about being alive is the accumulation of different experiences.

I mean, sure, it’s fast and its cheap and it’ll stop your stomach from rumbling when you’re late for class or an important meeting, but are you ever going to sit back and think about a really great meal you’ve had and have your ‘McUnloved‘ burger spring to mind? Think not.

But, this is just my take on a small facet of supporting local businesses in regards to fast food favourites.

Economically, buying locally makes loads of sense. You’re buying from a guy who is an expert in his area, either a farmer or an artist or a barista, and you’re injecting your hard-earned cash into a community, your community, that you care about. And that money is most likely to be spent in the community, too, to buy other raw materials for the business.

You’re creating employment for people in your community. You’re reducing the cost of things such as “air miles” in regards to food or transportation/importing costs

.In 2014, it was found that the United States transports and ships $2.2 trillion worth of products across 150 countries. This obscene amount of cash results in 1.1 billions of gallons of fuel being used per year internationally. And this results in 1 billion metric tons of CO2 being produced.

Think about that. 1 billion, 1 000, 000, 000. 

This goes hand-in-hand with reducing the environmental impacts of the goods you’re consuming. For example, you’re buying a banana. Make it a bunch of bananas, from a well-known large supermarket. Those bananas may have to be shipped from the other side of the world.

Think of all the transportation involved in that. Ground transport from place of produce to place of shipment (air or sea). Transport to destination of choice. Transport from port of arrival to place of selling. And many more steps in similar progression to these, all of which  contributing to harmful emissions that damage the environment: CO2, NOx , and particulate emissons to name a few.

From this, the environmental benefits far extend into the realm of an increase in health and quality of life. An example? Fresh produce that is imported to large supermarkets are showered in unnecessary preservatives and dodgy chemicals that accumulate in your body when you decide to consume these goods. Local produce is less likely to contain such harsh and unwanted foreign compounds, which reduces the likelihood of illness, as well as from low-quality air, such as asthma, etc.

Like I mentioned earlier, buying from local businesses keeps the town UNIQUE; It gives it a character.

In terms of the wider community, this has many social benefits too – if you feel like you belong to a community because of a certain feature, or an aspect of your town gives you pride, this is repayable in happiness far greater than its monetary value. Another reason: you get to know people better. And with knowing people you may also get rewards; some bakers throw in extra bagels for regulars or you may gain assistance in other areas of your life that you need from within the community.

Whatever your perspective, whether you want to help the Earth cling onto its fragile state a little longer – for the sake of your children, or your children’s children, whether you want to give a gift that can’t be found on every street corner in every city, or you just want to help yourself by helping those around you, buying locally has advantages tenfold; I strongly implore you to give it a try.

But don’t just take my word (or those of experts) for it.

Go outside and have a look for yourself. What are you waiting for?

-Article by Paige Gelder, Edited by Anushka Mehta