Step-by-Step Sustainability: You Help The Environment When You Buy Local!

Step-by-Step Sustainability: You Help The Environment When You Buy Local!

  • This article was contributed by Jessica Mino, Kane County Resource Management Coordinator, as part of the Step-By-Step Sustainability series.

Buy local!

You’ve heard this mantra from Kane County chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, but why is this important for sustainability?

Because buying local directly reduces your carbon footprint.

Transporting food and goods is a significant source of emissions. When we buy local — things made and produced near us — we are reducing the tremendous amount of fuel that it would have taken to bring things from elsewhere.

This not only drastically reduces the upfront environmental cost of transporting food and goods to you, but also supports your community.

I have been working on this for awhile now. We try to schedule going to our local Saturday morning farmer’s market, not just going when it is convenient. We can then base our meals for the next week on what was available from local producers.

With the lack of needing to be transported over great distances, local produce has the tendency to be fresher for you and your family. The produce is picked when it is ripe, and sold in its prime.

We of course cannot always find everything we may need produced locally, but we go to the grocery store after the market so that we only end up getting what we can’t find at the market at the store.

Similarly, supporting restaurants that obtain their ingredients from local producers can have a huge impact. Again, this cuts down on the transportation emissions of what you are eating and also shows restaurant owners that customers value local goods.

Local restaurants can be more likely to tailor their service to what the community wants, echoed by the way that local restaurants are leading the charge in alternatives to disposable plastics based on customer demand.

I also aim to buy locally-made household items and home décor. Whether looking for a gift or to refill your soap dish, locally-made items (from locally-produced supplies) continue to minimize how far things have to travel before they get to you.

Now this all comes with the caveat that buying local is not the most sustainable approach for buying everything.

Sometimes, it can be more resource intensive to search for and find local produce. That’s why I continually advocate for basing your meals on what is available locally and seasonally so less items are required to be transported into your area.

Beyond the reduced transportation emissions, I have found that local goods are often offered in less packaging and are easier to put in reusable containers and bags. Another benefit for our earth!

Stay tuned (in a later article) to find out how eating different kinds of food also impacts your carbon footprint.

Read The Step-By-Step Sustainability Series!