Buying Local: Sustainability’s Little Cousin (or, Support What You Want to See)

Buying Local: Sustainability’s Little Cousin (or, Support What You Want to See)

This is a sentiment I’ve heard a ton of times, in some variation of the following:

“I hate that they’re building all these strip malls and box stores, it’s such an eye-sore”

“Customer service sure isn’t what it used to be”

“I wish my neighborhood had a quirky little coffee shop to hang out in”

“Too bad our town doesn’t have a cute little downtown to poke around”

“Aww a farmers market! Buying food straight from the producer *sigh* wonderful”

I’ll sum up the sentiment: I love the idea of living in a world where the old-fashioned “Mom and Pop” shop still exists, where I can go into a local boutique and find something unique, where proprietors know and care about their product, and staff serve their customers with a personal touch.

Good news you guys: it exists! Whether you live in the city or the ‘burbs like me, there are local businesses, shops, boutiques, one-off restaurants, with passionate people running them, and they will be so thrilled when you choose them.

When you shop small or local, you’re making a big difference. Your money goes back into your community, into local jobs, taxes, and encourages others to start small, unique and customer-focused businesses where you live. Win, win, win. Right? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where Walmart wins, where big box stores and chain restaurants dominate, where we order everything we need from a screen, without ever having to interact with another human. Sounds terrible, right?

The thing is, we have to connect the dots here: we cannot idealize the cute-little-local-specialty-shop, and then keep purchasing everything on Amazon or at Target. We have to support what we want to see! Are you an avid reader? Find a local book seller and bring them your business. Enjoy innovative music? Head to the record store and pick up something new. Love unique clothes and jewelry? Visit that boutique in town you keep meaning to check out. Passionate about sustainable, versatile, secondhand clothing? Hmmm now where could you find some of that (wink wink).

Sometimes shopping small means spending a little more on a little less. You’re probably not going to find 2-for-5-dollar t-shirts and the like. But, you’re literally going to make someone’s day. You’re going to support the hard work, creativity and care of an actual person in your town, instead of pouring your hard earned $$ into the hands of some corporation. As someone who has owned/managed several small businesses, it always makes my heart burst when someone chooses to support me. The stats on the pros of buying local are staggering. Google it ☺

I’m lucky enough to live in a town that is full of small business & pop-up markets, with unique local products, and yes, a quirky little coffee shop right down the street from my house (hallelujah). These things enhance my quality of life more than Starbucks and Amazon ever could. So, I *try* to put my money where my mouth is: I frequent the corner coffee shop, I buy from the cool-girls at the local clothing store, I purchase hard-copies of music by artists that are important to me. I don’t want these things to disappear, so I see it as my responsibility to show my support.

Here comes the caveat: obviously, I need laundry soap and cat litter and light bulbs and toilet paper and all the other drudgeries of daily adult life, so of course I occasionally order on Amazon or darken the shiny sliding doors of Target. I’m only human, and we can only do so much. The point is to try. Be conscious of who you give your money to. Line your purchasing habits up with your values. I promise your community, and your life, will be better for it.

What are your favorite lil spots to hit up where you live? Give your local businesses some shout-out love!