I, like many minimalists, am a very outdoorsy kind of person. The minimalist lifestyle in general lends itself to being very outdoorsy, social, and community oriented. That is what happens when we live a life very focused on the core values of life. By that I mean health/wellness, relationships, and growth/passion (for more info on this, you can get my book “Living Better Small”).
One of the many aspects of this life I have come to appreciate is the value of shopping local. We are all consumers, and as consumers we have the power to shape the economy both locally and globally. Truthfully, we are the only ones who have control over the economy when it comes right down to it. We often forget that the manner in which we spend our dollar gives us tremendous power. With that being said, it is our responsibility to spend our dollar in a manner which benefits not only us, but our community. This is why I strongly promote shopping local.
“What does it mean to shop local’?”
This is a very good question because not a lot of people know exactly what it means. “Shopping local” means spending money for goods and services in local businesses that re-invest that money back into our community (likely other local businesses). Doing this keeps the money in circulation within our community, and therefore keeps it prospering. The opposition to this, is spending money on goods and services at big businesses (corporations or chain stores) that use that money mostly to pay employees and/or manufacturers outside our community, and often even outside the country. This is literally sending wealth somewhere else. That is the best case scenario. It is also likely that the money is going to be the excess profit of a rich entrepreneur (the funds to pay for their second summer home for example). Where would YOU rather your money go?
“I still don’t understand, how does our community ‘prosper’ by shopping local?”
Oh there are many reasons.
First and most important, our money will create jobs in our community. It’s simple: Local businesses will make more money, will need to expand, will need more resources, will need to hire more people.
Second, much of that money spent will help make the businesses bigger and create more local business. More local businesses and bigger businesses means more business tax spent in the community. This in turn leads to better schooling in the community, better police, fire department, road paving, and all community “upkeep.”
Third, it creates healthy competition. If we all shop local, more and more small business will spring up because we are making the community wealthier and drowning out the corporations. With more and more small businesses springing up we will have more and more businesses competing for your business. This leads to cheaper merchandise.
Fourth, local food is generally healthier. When you buy food from a farmers market it is fresher (right off the vine) so there is no need for the farmer to add preservatives too it. Furthermore the produce is picked the moment it is ripe, and not before. Often times produce is picked too early if it is set to travel great distances, so that way the produce is ripe by the time it makes it to the destination. Vital nutrients are lost when this occurs. Also, thanks to the fact that the farm from which the food comes is local, we have a better perspective for knowing if they use GMO’s. As it turns out, there are many local farms that do not use GMO’s (Fishkill Farms for example).
Fifth, it improves community morale and networking. Remember, these small business owners are not strangers to you. They are your neighbors, they go to your church, you pass them and say hello when you ride your bike. They haul your trash, serve your food, they watch you while you sleep. For decency sake, help them out. What goes around, comes around.
“How do I know if a business is a local business or a chain/corporation?”
Most of the time it’s obvious.
Small businesses are small and only have few locations. Big businesses are big and every town has one. It is not always so obvious though. Just because a business appears small, and you have only seen one, does not mean it is not owned by a parent company. So it is always best to do your research. You could flat out ask them (nothing wrong with that). Or do your research; Google it.
So I invite you to be part of the solution, not the problem. Big business is sending our jobs and our money elsewhere, and we are paying them to do it. Meanwhile many of our neighbor’s right here in the Hudson Valley can’t find employment. Our spending habits make all the difference.
Read more of my works at www.livingbettersmall.com where I discuss the freedom and focus of living a lifestyle I have enjoyed for many years now. A lifestyle based in minimalism. I also have a book available for purchase on www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com. My book is “Living Better Small (A better life through minimalism)”. Available on paperback, Kindle, and nook.