Throughout the pandemic we’ve been told repeatedly to “shop local” and support our local businesses. There is no doubt that small local businesses are struggling during this pandemic. They can use every support in the world to stay afloat, but shopping locally should be more than an act of solidarity during tough times. It should be our default choice, because no matter how we look at it - through the lens of the economist, the environmentalist, the urbanist or the nutritionist (to name only a few) - shopping locally just makes sense.
1. Money stays in the local economy
A few American studies have shown that for every $100 that is spent at a local independent business, roughly $70 stays in the community, versus $45 when the same $100 is spent at a big box retailer. Assuming we can apply these statistics to Canada (which doesn’t seem absurd given our similar retail landscapes), there is clear evidence local shopping creates significantly more wealth for your community than money spent at chain-owned businesses. (1)
2. Local shopping reduces greenhouse gas emissions
Transportation contributes 25% of Canada’s GHG emissions (2). Local businesses are more likely to source their products locally, which means shorter transportation routes, and therefore lower emission. And because they are close to you, local shops enable you to ditch the car and opt for more eco-friendly (and healthier) means of transportation, like walking and cycling. A big win for the planet!
3. It is less wasteful, sometimes even waste-free!
With products travelling shorter distances, there’s far less need for packaging to protect them. In some cases, the need for packaging goes down to zero! At NU for example, reusable packaging is the norm with our local suppliers. Coffee, maple syrup, cookies, pesto and many more are delivered in reusable containers that go back to the supplier for reuse when they are empty. This zero waste and circular supply chain would not be possible with suppliers from the other end of the continent!
4. Local businesses make vibrant communities
Independent local businesses are the heart and life of a neighbourhood. They make for lively main streets where it is fun to stroll and chat with neighbours. When you support a local business, you protect the unique character which made you choose this neighbourhood in the first place. Don’t take it for granted!
5. Local products are easily traceable
When you buy from a local grower and producer, you know where and how your product was made. You can easily check that proper standards were applied, workers were treated humanely, and claims are legitimate. In a world where the industrialization of food disconnects us from the actual process of growing and making food, you can feel safe about what you buy and eat. And that’s worth a lot!
6. The personal touch
When you shop in a local business, you are not a number to us. And if you come frequently, we will soon greet you with your name and take the time to chat, if you feel like it of course. We genuinely care!