A growing segment of eco-conscious citizens are recognizing how both living green and supporting the local economy are integral to a more sustainable world.
Here are five strategies adapted from a complete action item list at small-mart.org, a web site inspired by The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition by Michael Shuman:
1. Buy Fresh. An age-old tradition of supporting local agriculture is experiencing a resurgence. More people are shopping at farmers markets, joining co-ops, and buying shares at community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. Many such businesses are listed in directories provided by sustainability business networks.
It doesn’t need to stop with buying local produce. Supporting other food operations like the neighborhood baker, cheese maker, or caterer also helps bolster the local economy. All of these local food practices help communities lessen their carbon footprint by forsaking a broader distribution network and the environmental costs of long-distance shipping.
2. Honor junk. The environmental benefits of repairing and reusing old things are clear, both on an individual and collective level. Waste reclamation enterprises are sprouting up in communities throughout the country. Green Worker Cooperatives in the South Bronx has led the way with Rebuilders Source, a retailer of surplus and used building supplies.
3. Rent or share more. There are several alternatives to buying high-priced items, many of which are not locally produced and whose manufacture damage the environment. Zip cars and other member-based car sharing companies provide car access without the hassles of car ownership. Small-mart.org also suggests setting up neighborhood tool sheds to make available those big tools that are useful but seldom used.
4. Be part of a Buy Local Day or other Buy Local campaign. Let’s admit it: we’ve been conditioned by the global economy. Participating in Buy Local campaigns helps us shed old loyalties to megacorporations. It also paints a vivid picture for ourselves and our neighbors of why the triple-bottom-line furthers sustainable living.