March 27, 2008

The Local Angle

Wanna Save The Earth? Then Shop Local….

The “green” movement has many spokes in its wheel. One such spoke is targeting your shopping. While many view “Shop Local” as a separate campaign, I strongly believe that one can not be a true friend of the Earth and NOT pay attention to where one shops. To put it bluntly… if you do a majority of your shopping at “Wally-World” and the like (no matter how many CFL’s they sell), then you are not working towards a sustainable and healthy planet.

Why shop local? Why should you care?

**“Each food item in a typical US meal has traveled an average of 1500 miles… If every US citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce we could reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil EVERY WEEK” (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)… This bears repeating 1.1 MILLION BARRELS spared just by eating ONE MEAL a week with local foods… imagine if you ate ½ your meals from local foods… imagine if you bought those foods at a local store rather than a chain that has thousands of trucks on the road daily polluting your air????

**A 200K sq foot space generally draws an additional 10K cars per day, and more on Saturdays; this amount traffic often depresses property values, but increases costs to local governments (Big Box Swindle)

**When a mega store opens, a community LOSES a net of 180 jobs (ibid)

**Because box-store employees often make minimum wage, the costs to taxpayers to fund Medicare and welfare greatly increases (ibid)

**Locally owned business generate 70% MORE local economic impact per square foot than a chain store (ibid)

**3 times as much money stays in the community when people shop local (chain store profits filter up to the corporate headquarters and CEO, where local business reinvest that $ into the community) (ibid)

Many of the above statistics are economically based, and that tends to lead to the assumption that “Shop Local” and the “Green” movement are separate... but if you add it up this way, it makes sense: If you shop local, then more people have better paying jobs, they then are more likely to spend their extra money in the community also shopping locally, thus giving the local farmer reason not to sell off land to developers, thus cutting back on overall pollution and increasing good air through larger organic farming and less commuting and trucking.

If we can’t support our local economy, then we can’t expect it to support us. Does this mean NEVER shopping at a chain store? No. Even I do every once in awhile! BUT it does mean planning shopping, looking for local alternatives, and not relying on the chains for everything. How do you know where to shop? Here are some local (Central PA) sources, as well as national links to websites.

1) Use your phonebook…. Let your fingers do the walking before you jump in the car
2) For those here in Lancaster area use the SSBN Green Pages, especially if you’re looking for local produce and organically grown goods
3) USDA list of local farmers markets
4) American Independent Business Alliance
5) Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

THINK GLOBALLY… SHOP LOCALLY. And don’t forget to take your reusable bags when shopping locally! :)

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