While it may not always seem like it, our everyday choices have an impact on the planet. From the food we eat to the way we dispose of trash; our actions have consequences beyond what we might consider.
The same can be said for our shopping habits and where we choose to shop. Because of this, it’s important to be mindful of our behaviors and the bearing they have environmentally speaking.
One solution to live more sustainably is to “shop small.” A nice reminder to support the local economy, this phrase goes beyond helping entrepreneurs and small businesses. It encompasses giving back to your friends, neighbors and community while still getting your day-to-day products in a “greener” fashion.
How could shopping small affect the bigger picture? For starters, it reduces your carbon footprint. The majority of products lining the shelves of chain stores and large retailers are produced and carted in from outside your community.
What’s more, many were likely produced overseas and shipped via ocean freighters or even by plane.
Although such international commerce helps the global economy, the transportation of goods does significant damage to the environment by elevating greenhouse gas emissions. These gasses, mainly carbon dioxide, pollute our air and contribute greatly to climate change.
Local businesses on the other hand, generally source goods and supplies from within the area. Doing so decreases emissions and, therefore, lowers your own carbon footprint when you support them.
Along the same lines is the produce at local business tends to be procured more carefully to prevent waste. For larger retailers, it’s usually the opposite as they tend to overstock the produce department with much of it spoiling and going to waste.
Furthermore, small shops may get their stock of fruits and veggies from neighboring farmers. On top requiring less transportation, this fresh supply is sometimes organic and less impactful on the planet in terms of pesticides, chemicals and growth hormones.
There are many ways to improve your shopping habits and even encourage others to do the same. For instance, by buying gift cards or certificates to local shops and sharing your experiences on social media, you could spread a message of support. Other approaches include buying seasonal wares at your community farmer’s market or choosing to dine at family-owned restaurants.
By deciding to live eco-friendlier lifestyles, we all can make a difference in protecting wildlife and reducing carbon emissions. It’s up to all of us to do what we can to help restore the ecological imbalance our choices create.
For further information on the environmental and economic impacts of shopping small businesses, please see the accompanying resource.