Enviro Girl is a HUGE fan of patronizing locally owned and operated businesses. From restaurants to florists to film developers to groceries, if it’s owned by Mom and Pop, you’ll find her spending her money there. Her reasons are environmental, political and economical — here’s the breakdown of why she shops local: Continue reading
Enviro Girl is a HUGE fan of shopping at locally owned and operated businesses. From restaurants to florists to film developers to groceries, if it’s owned by Mom and Pop, you’ll find her spending her money there. Her reasons are environmental, political and economical — here’s the breakdown of why she shops local:
1. More money stays in the local economy when we shop local. One 2008 study showed that for every $100 spent at a local-independent business, $73 stays in the community versus $43 at a non-locally owned business. Want to boost your area’s economy? Shop local. Enviro Girl likes her money to go to her neighbors and friends, not to the Waltons or the Kohls (even though they live in her state).
2. Local businesses give locally. Check out the back of Little League t-shirts and programs from local theater productions — it’s Lou’s Diner and King’s Variety Store sponsoring community life. It’s pretty darn hypocritical to beg the locally owned businesses for donations and then turn around and shop at the Big Box Stores who don’t give to local organizations at a fraction of the level that independent retailers do.
3. Locally owned ensures choice and diversity. Chains don’t have any regard for local needs, climate or concerns. Chains don’t have character. Sadly, many folks live in areas where Big Box stores have taken over, leaving no choice, no diversity.
4. Locally owned means COLOR and CHARACTER. The entire planet is morphing into identical strip malls with identical storefronts. How depressing. If you value the unique color of your downtown, you have to leave your money behind supporting it. If you don’t, those stores shutter up and you’re left with nothing but Big Box shopping experiences.
5. Luring chain stores costs communities more than they benefit them. The tax revenue drops, an equal number of jobs are displaced, the co-dependence of locally owned businesses is broken when Big Box stores enter the picture because they’re beholden to no one local.
6. Big Box stores and chain stores and superstores waste land resources, contributing to urban sprawl and suburban blight. New Mexico now has eight empty Wal-Mart stores. Colorado has 2, both exceed 100,000 square feet, not counting the parking lot. Strip malls give way to enclosed malls and free-standing megastores. Wal-Mart has 400 stores sitting empty, 30 million square feet of empty building and that much more asphalt-covered parking lot.
7. In addition to wasting land resources, chain stores pull traffic away from “Main Street America” and out to the edges of town, creating more reliance on driving and resulting in more dependence on cars. Most new retail outlets are not pedestrian or bike-friendly and many strain already underfunded public transportation by adding miles and miles to their routes — pulling shoppers and workers further from the central hub of their communities. Chain stores add to traffic congestion and taxpayers end up footing the bill to manage and reroute traffic every time a new Big Box gets built.
8. Urban sprawl that inevitably results from Big Box stores puts more stress on a community’s infrastructure. It increases pollution to air and groundwater. It demands expansion of sewer, water, electricity, garbage pick up, police patrol and first response services. This also happens at taxpayers’ expense.
9. Shopping local means more expertise and more attentive customer service. Why? Because that’s what they have to offer instead of loss leaders in aisle 7.
10. Shopping local means connecting with your community. Enviro Girl knows the guy who bags her groceries and she’s taken karate classes with a local florist. These people live in her town, work in her town and are invested in her town. Their livelihoods depend on Enviro Girl just as hers depends on theirs. She will not break that cycle just to save a few bucks on film development because the ten reasons she’s just listed mean more to her than money.
Do your community a favor this Christmas: shop local.
Here’s an Eco-Warrior challenge — pick ONE product or service you use and switch to a brand locally produced.
Enviro-Girl has switched beers to reduce her beer miles (she used to drink Guinness from Dublin, Ireland and switched to brews made in New Glarus, Wisconsin). Almost all the cheese she buys comes from her home state. She shops at a local five and dime for office and craft supplies instead of driving across town to a big box store. Her family doesn’t eat at chain restaurants — they head to a family restaurant where the waitresses know their name and the owner donates money to the local sports teams.
By shifting the money you spend to your local economy, you do more good and you do more green. Before you shop, consider how you might patronize a locally owned and operated business or purchase locally produced goods. And if you’re currently doing so, start spreading the word to your friends and family. Debunk the myth that big box stores are a better value!
Why is buying local a greener choice? Local commerce reduces emissions and pollutants. Local commerce means more personal, individualized services and goods are available. It means more local color and diversity lining Main Street. Money you spend with indepent small businesses stay in your community, making a sustainable economy. Locally owned businesses support their communities and contribute more to local causes. They make decisions bearing their location in mind–because they’re invested in the long term health of their community, they give employees a chance that bigger, distant employers may not.
Shopping local helps employment remain a constant. It means less miles between raw materials and manufacturing and point of sale. Less miles means less packaging and waste, increased accountability and less traffic. Shopping in your local downtown alleviates sprawl, which means less driving, less habitat loss, less pollution. Walkable downtown environments make better use of land and require less infrastructure and public services than strip shopping malls or big box stores.
Buying locally grown means family farms stay viable. It means fresher, healthier food for YOU! Buying locally grown protects diversity–the tomatoes grown for Walmart are bred for a long shelf life and a shiny red skin–NOT for taste. Locally grown food often provides variety you’ll never find in a supermarket.
And buying locally made and sole means increased entrepreneurship and innovation. When we all put our money in the pot of a monopoly, we lose power and that’s not healthy for competition or for keeping prices and services reasonable. A healthy economy means a healthier environment in so many ways. Next time you shop, invest your money in your hometown by keeping your purchases local. It’s your choice, consumer. Your choice helps determine what your town looks like.
She hates the mall, shopping in general and the unoriginality of factory made goods, but she does appreciate the personal touch. What place can fulfill Enviro-Girl’s fantasy of the perfect shopping experience?
The ultimate online handmade store. Thousands of creative people peddling their goods in one spot. Etsy’s site is easy to navigate–allowing a user to shop by category or by item tag or by artist. if you want to only buy from people in your state, you can. Etsy offers paintings, jewelry, clothes, toys, stationery, furniture, vases, purses, clocks, dishes, lotions, candles, music, bedding and glassware. Everything Enviro-Girl has looked at has been priced reasonably and everything she’s bought is well made. The craftsmanship and care is evident even in the packaging. Items are shipped fast and efficiently–Enviro-Girl has bought several gifts and the sellers have enclosed notes and shipped said gifts directly to Enviro-Girl’s friends. Every thing she’s ever ordered off of Etsy has arrived at her door within 3 business days–very satisfactory service. Whether you want to spend $10 or $100, Enviro-Girl guarantees you’ll find something suitable.
The shopping experience on Etsy is personal (unlike that on Amazon.com or Oldnavy.com or anywhereelse.com). Many sellers include a lagniappe–a something extra in the package, an added gift in the tradition of shopkeepers of old. And every seller includes a handwritten note of thanks, their appreciation that you, good shopper, have chosen their handiwork to use or to give to a loved one. That touch makes Enviro-Girl smile every time she opens an Etsy purchase.
Enviro-Girl loves keeping her money local and Etsy is a grand way to do this as an online shopper. She loves the idea of paying the producer directly and she loves buying handmade because again, it’s unique and it’s better. She’s been telling everyone she knows about Etsy and why she loves it so. Check it out if you haven’t yet, and here are a couple of Enviro-Girl’s favorite “stores” to get you warmed up:
Rhymes with Magic (funky jewelry with a message!)
Keys and Memories (recycled jewelry with your initials)
While they Play (divine gloves, earrings, she’s a gifted knitter)
Comfy Creations (aromatherapeutic heating pads for every body part you’d want to pamper)
Pink Lemonade Bags (very cool totes & purses)
Now go! Click on the links!