"Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It Means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependant on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs."
- Michael H. Shuman, author of the book Going Local.
Choosing greener alternatives is important for sustainability but where you shop in many cases is the most important factor. Shopping locally is important for environmental sustainability as well as economic sustainability. When you shop locally you are supporting members of your own community who are also vested in the heath and success of the community. You are also travelling less and requiring less things to be shipped meaning less carbon, pollution and traffic congestion.
I was psyched when I found this graphic while perusing one of my favorite sites (Elephant Journal), which led me to Local First. Local First an organization aimed at promoting sustainabile economic devolpment in the greater Grand Rapids, MI area. There I found a list of 10 resons to shop local. There are far more than just 10 but the internet likes lists and the number 10 so to start here is a version of their list I tweaked a bit...
1. Local Economic Stimulus.
When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the local tax base.
2. Non Profits Receive Greater Support.
Local business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners.
3. Unique Businesses Create Character & Prosperity
The unique character of your local community is defined in large part by the business that reside there, and that plays a big factor in your overall satisfaction with where you live and the value of you home and property.
4. Environmental Impact Is Reduced.
Small local business usually set up shop in the town/village center, providing a centralized variety that is much friendlier to a community's walk score than out of town shopping malls. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
5. Most New Jobs Are Provided By Local Businesses.
Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally. Plus the more jobs you have in your local community the less people are going to have to commute which means more time and less traffic and pollution.
6. Customer Service Is Better.
Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service. You are also going to see these people around town and they are less likely to blow you off or be rude becauses they have to face you day after day.
7. Local Business Owners Invest In Community.
Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community's welfare and future.
8. Public Benefits Far Outweigh Public Costs.
Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure and more efficiently utilize public services relative to chain stores.
9. Competition And Diversity Leads To More Consumer Choices.
A marketplace of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.
10. You Matter More
We talk a lot about exerting influence with your purchasing choices, or "voting with your wallet." It's a fact that business respond to their customers but your values and desires are much more influential to you local community business than the large big box stores.
To read more about going local check out Ecolocalizer, a great site that provides news, ideas and inspiration to "Think globally, act locally."