Parenting Green: Buy Local First
Greening Our Social Landscape
Our environment is more than the botany around us! When we admire our landscape we recognize that it also includes the views of markets, public spaces, and a bustling community of likeminded people engaged in businesses, and schools. All these things attract us as inhabitants. So when we think about preserving our environment by doing helpful things like recycling, river clean-ups, and using reusable bags, we can also consider efforts made in greening our social landscape as equally supportive.
We value face-to-face interactions. Getting our questions answered, being helped in person to find what we need, having conversations with real people about life, our kids growing up, and what’s going on around town. I want to introduce you to the concept of buy local first. If you live in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA you likely have heard this term, or even have picked up a copy of the Pioneer Valley Local First guide. It’s all about shopping local. You know why? Because when you make a purchase at a local business, significantly more money will recirculate into the community keeping it vibrant. There are 10 reasons (and really good ones, some that you might not even think of make a shift but they all do)! You can read them in more detail in Pioneer Valley Local First post, “Top 10 Reasons to Shop Local First!” If you’re more of a visual learner, you can click on this graphic to view more.
I wanted to highlight my favorite 3 and elaborate from my own experience:
- Customer Service is often better. A customer might have a lot of questions about a new product they’re looking to introduce to their family or try for the first time themselves. They want to know their options, the price, how it works, what its impacts are, and if they’ll like it. Most of the time these small businesses hire people who love and engage with the lifestyle and products being sold. They’re knowledgeable, they’re insightful, and most importantly they’re helpful. What hurts small businesses the most is when after that knowledge has been ‘harvested’ by the potential customer, they then leave the store and go shop for the exact product on-line at a cheaper price. This really damages small business. So much so that they might not be around next time you need to come glean more information and you’ll be stuck bobbing in the sea of too-much information on-line.
- Competition and Diversity lead to more consumer choices. I almost feel as though we’re being seduced by these instant gratifications of shopping on-line. I can agree as a parent of small children the idea of shuffling around to various stores to find just the right boot for my daughter could take hours. However, if we keep the small business population healthy there will be more options and lower prices over the long-term. If these big box stores and on-line giants become the monopoly they get to control prices and the selection.
- Environmental Impact Is Reduced. For one, I really enjoy walking down-town. The activity of moving our bodies helps to work out little bubbles of irritability, giving us an extra boost of energy to do some errands in town. Our kids enjoy the bike ride we might take to get there and we all get some fresh air. Plus when we can walk to do a small shopping trip once and a while we can be sure we’ll be getting just exactly what we intended to as we’ll be limited by what we can carry. It might mean some planning to generate lists of what you need from where and perhaps even finding a time to do the shopping excursion solo, or with a friend, or even with just one of the kids.
I know as a parent I am becoming more programed for short term visioning. We are constantly tending to the immediate needs of kids and things around us. Who’s going where when? What things do we need before we go? What are we going to make for dinner tonight? So it’s easy to think that on-line shopping is a saving grace! One less thing to worry about, right?! Well this is not to get you worried. This is to show you that you have the ability to make your environment better with just this tiny gesture of making use of the resources you have available at your feet (not your fingertips), at least more often than not.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.