Buying locally has been all the rage for a while now. It’s the reason why farmers markets and 100 mile dinners are all the rage. Consumers love the idea of knowing where their products are coming from and supporting local businesses. But what does buying locally do for the environment?
Reduce Your Food Miles
One of the most important ways buying locally helps the environment is by reducing your food miles. By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced in your local community. Conversely, when you shop at the grocery store, many of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate. By cutting down on these miles, you are reducing the environmental impact of your food. Local food doesn’t create large carbon footprints through overseas plane travel or long truck trips. This cuts down on fuel consumption and air pollution. There isn’t a need for shipping facilities, packing facilities or refrigeration.
Local businesses are able to operate in their local communities. It’s easy for them to bring their products to their consumers because their consumers are nearby. Take a farmers market for example - consumers are able to easily access lots of local homegrown produce without leaving their own community. Shoppers are able to easily walk or bike to their local market to shop the stalls. On the other hand, with larger grocery and department stores, they usually aren’t able to be located so centrally. Because these larger retailers require more space, they often have to move out of town. That means consumers are forced to drive to these stores, which increases their fuel consumption and carbon footprint.
By buying and eating local, consumers are able to enjoy produce that is fresh and nutritious. Many local producers pride themselves on keeping their product organic, hormone free and pesticide free. Not only is this beneficial to the consumer, it’s also beneficial to the environment. Keeping harmful toxins, like pesticides, out of the air helps to improve crops and air quality. In addition, because the produce is fresh and brought directly from farm to table, there is less waste. Many large retailers have significant food waste due to items going bad before they are bought. On a smaller scale with a more direct farm to table approach, this food waste is cut down.
Protects Local Land & Wildlife
Buying local also helps to protect local lands and wildlife. By buying local, you are supporting local farmers and producers. With your support, these farms are able to stay in operation. Because the farms are owned and operated by local farmers and producers, they aren’t being sold to local developers. Local developers could completely transform the land, devastating the wildlife that calls it home. Or, big business producers could buy out the farm and incorporate inhumane and non-eco-friendly farming practices.
Lastly, an added environmental benefit of buying locally is supporting the local workforce. For example, if you buy your groceries at the local farmers market, you’re helping to keep local growers, creators and farmers in their jobs. You’re also creating an opportunity for other local jobs such as the team who organizes the farmers market, the team that sets up the stalls, the team that cleans up at the end of the day, etc. All of these local businesses with local workers are in place because consumers are demanding local goods. Without that consumer demand, these local businesses may not exist. Many of the employees would have to seek work elsewhere, outside of the community. This would add to highway congestion and fuel consumption, enlarging the overall carbon footprint.