image by baofoodanddrink
People make buying decisions for all different reasons. Personally, I started buying locally as a sort of personal challenge.
Many moons ago, I was excited about a Japanese store called Uniqlo opening in Soho. I have an affinity for Japanese aesthetics, but I didn't realize before going inside the first time that these were very very cheap Japanese things! A few years later, Uniqlo marketed something called 'HeatTech'. As someone who is always cold, I promptly became an official Uniqlo customer. One time I went back with my husband just to buy Men's socks. We happened to look at the price of a pair of jeans and were shocked at the $12 price tag. I became horrified...how much was someone being paid to make those jeans if the end consumer was only paying $12?!
And that was my turning point into becoming a conscious (clothing) consumer. Before that, I was really into the environment..in fact I was buying the sustainable furniture collection for ABC Home as my job (they still have the best collection of sustainable and made in America furniture around), and I always identified with quality over quantity. But I had no guilt for the shopping I did at fast-fashion stores. Yes, I preferred things like organic and handmade, but I'd buy anything else in it's place...and I certainly never looked at where things were manufactured.
That incident at Uniqlo was a bit of a game changer for me. I was also going through a life change that really made me question the future of this world. I decided to challenge myself to see if I could I shop American and still buy things without foregoing design. I've been on this kick for about six years now and I will say that I definitely have not been perfect. There are some categories that are more difficult than others, and I've been lazy at times or made a choice based on price at others, but in general, I have been amazed at the amazing products that people in this country are making!!
My beef is that I don't like how time consuming it can be for the consumer to shop consciously. I believe the responsibility should fall on the retailer and manufacturer to offer good choices to the consumers so that they in turn can make good choices. I strongly believe that shopping locally (or sustainable, vegan, is important to you) should be easy, and not an inconvenience, or a project. I will save that topic for another day and concentrate now on why buying local is even a good idea in the first place ;)
My top three reasons to support buying local:
1. Protect the environment. The less transportation it takes for an item to get from factory to consumer, the less impact there is on our planet. Elocal.com says: aircraft transport consumes more fuel and emits more greenhouse gas per mile than any other mode of transport; and shipping produces 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and uses 11 billion gallons of fuel per yer internationally. Reduce your carbon footprint by training locals to manufacture locally.
2. Support the future of your community. Local businesses recirculate a much greater share of every dollar in their local economy (averaging 47.7%), as they create locally owned supply chains and invest in their employees versus large chains (averaging 13.6%) according to Civic Economics. Feel good knowing you are contributing to the economy of your own neighborhood, community or country... two fold: in sales and by tax dollars collected by the businesses you support.
3. Buy quality over quantity. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ensures products meet quality standards that are safe for consumers. Buying USA also supports safe and fair working conditions as well as child labor laws. Many importing countries have little or no regulations, resulting in unsafe or inhumane working conditions. Even if a company vetts an overseas factory for the best industry practices, factories often sub-contract projects out to other factories, who then sub-contract out to other factories, making it near impossible to maintain control of standards.
If your favorite shop does not offer enough made local product, tag them here so they know it is important to you, or ask them in person. If you have a product that you love, but it is manufactured abroad, ask the brand to make it locally. I have read excuses so many times from stores, brands and manufactures as to why they don't manufacture local. If they want to, they can do it. If you are a manufacturer, be transparent with your consumers, we really appreciate it! #MAKEITLOCAL