Everytime you buy something, you’re casting your vote about what you want to see companies do in the future. When you shop from a store like Walmart, you’re saying that the way they source and sell their products is acceptable. However, when you choose to support small businesses that sell locally made products sourced more sustainably, you’re showing what’s important to you. You’re using your money to tell companies that you value ethical and eco-friendly goods. You’re saying you want to see more like that in the future. When it comes to profits, companies listen.
Local business also helps local economy. Instead of hoarding their wealth, the owners of these smaller businesses typically use it to give fair wages to their employees and the people they source their goods from. This ensures that the money they make circulates within their community.
While not everyone can shop 100% locally all the time (we all have varying levels of socio-economic privilege), it’s important to buy local and sustainable products when you can. If just half of Earth’s 7.53 billion person population bought something locally every month, it would add up to about 45.18 billion products a year. Think about how much small businesses and their surrounding communities across the globe would flourish.
Below I’ve included a list of ways/where to go to find local and sustainable things. I also list advice about how to use these methods to find the best stuff. Please note that some of these resources may be specific to the US.
Community Supported Agriculture
With Community Supported Agriculture, you can regularly order boxes of foods from local farmers. If you’d like to see for yourself where your food is coming from, most CSA farms allow visitors once or more a season.
Farmers markets can be a great way to find more affordable local produce.
However, if you try one market and find it’s not for you, please don’t be give up on them! Not all markets are created equally.
The surrounding neighbourhood is usually a good indication of what the market will be like. I find that more gentrified or higher income neighbourhoods will have either overpriced produce or won’t offer any at all. Some will just offer juices, micro-brews, and gym fliers.
So, just go to multiple ones around you and find one that fits.
Alterations and Shoe Repair
Before you buy something new, stop and think for the sake of the earth and your pocketbook. Could you just get your clothes fixed or fitted?
Often times alterations and shoe repairs are much cheaper than you would expect. I remember one time my Mom went to a dry cleaners and got pretty major alterations done on her pants for only $4.00.
Getting clothes fixed/fitted also keeps them out of the landfills.
Indie Bound Bookstore Finder
Indie Bound is a website dedicated to supporting local bookstores. They advocate against big corporations like Amazon that are putting little bookshops out of business.
They offer a bookstore finder to locate independent book sellers near you.
Ulocal is a website and app dedicated to helping you find businesses that source their products and/or experiences locally. They’ll help you find an option for whatever you’re looking for (from clothing to wine).
When you use Ulocal, you can also specify that you’re looking for stores that are vegan, zero waste, etc.