Green tip for week #6 — Week of June 8, 2008

Buy Local

Our society has globalized – in most countries, we receive goods from all parts of the world. Although that can be exciting and desirable, it comes at a cost. Anytime those in America obtain goods from China, or vice versa, there are many environmental and economic impacts that occur. Without making this a political or societal review, let’s focus on what we can do to minimize the environmental impact of our consumer choices.

We recognize that some goods made or produced outside your immediate area may be higher quality, lower cost, or a combination of the two. You will likely not be able to purchase solely items from your immediate area, or even from within the country you live in. That said, we all can do more to purchase locally when we have the option.

Consider your trip to the grocery store — where did the tomatoes come from? How about the apples, potatoes, cheese, etc.? If you could buy some of these items at a farmer’s market or buy organic foods that are sourced locally, not only are you helping to support the community, the farmers or local businesses and the economy around you, but you are quite likely buying goods that are more fresh and possibly better quality than food items that have been grown or picked too fast, shipped too far, and stored too long.

Anytime you purchase goods, particularly food items, from outside your local area, there are packaging costs, trucking costs, sourcing costs, distribution costs, storage costs, and more. Each of those components also has an environmental impact, particularly the trucking/transportation/shipping component. A trip to your local farmer’s market, on the other hand, might enable you to buy direct from the farmer or grower, buy fresh and quality food items (possibly even allowing you to choose those grown without many harmful growth hormones, pesticides, etc.) and you can save the environmental and financial cost of going through a distributor and grocer.

This obviously doesn’t fill all your needs for groceries, but every bit helps. Remember the goal in any green living idea isn’t that you will fix all environmental problems with one choice or decision you make, but that you are making small and important changes toward sustainability, conservation, and environmental sensibility.

Want to make that trip to the farmer’s market, co-op, or local grocer even more enjoyable and environmentally friendly? Ride your bike, take your family, and make an event out of it. Buy your coffee at the market, have a roll or fresh baked goods, and make it an event. Be sure to bring your own reusable bags to bring all your purchases home, and you have taken an extra step to reduce the plastic bag waste.

Would you like to find out how to locate locally grown food, or would you like to find out where to buy meat, produce and other products near your home? One resource we find quite useful is LocalHarvest.org. This invaluable resource allows you to search out farms and products grown locally, and it allows you to locate farms in your area and to source organic food products. Check out LocalHarvest.org for more information.

Clearly you aren’t likely able to make a decision today or this week to stop buying from chain stores and to only buy goods that are grown or produced locally. What you can do, however, is make an effort to offset some of your purchases and consumption to those that are made, grown or sourced locally. This small step is an important component of green living, and will be one step closer to environmental responsibility!

Be sure to tell your friends and colleagues about the importance of buying locally, and be sure to tell them to read more about it at Green52.org. They can get this and many more weekly green tips right here at Green52.org. We invite your comments, feedback and ideas, below.

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