Part of a sustainability lifestyle means to help build a sustainable community. A key component of this effort is to buy local."Local" is subjective, but generally means that individuals in the local community own at least the majority share of a business and is located within a certain, defined distance of the community it serves. When we were working the EcoFair, we defined "local" as within 100 miles. The distance depends a lot upon what is available.
According to Green Business Practices for Dummies (which I highly recommend if you are a business owner looking to improve your sustainability), a localized economy generally has the following characteristics:
- Local ownership
- Direct control
- Regional sourcing
Why buy local?
- Small businesses are the largest employer in America
- Local businesses are owned by people vested in the community--more likely to stay in the community and feel part of its future
- Hometown entrepreneurs contribute up to 2.5 times as much to local nonprofits as chain stores
- About 45% of moeny spent at a local business stays in the community compared to 14% spent at a big-box store
- Unique shops and services are part of what brings tourist dollars to the community
- Local businesses often hire employees with better product knowledge and more interest in getting to know the customers
Does that mean I never shop at Wal-Mart, Target, or Office Depot? No, but I do consciously decide to try to find local businesses who provide the products I need. I wish I could find goods actually made in our local area--that has been more difficult.