For August I am challenging myself to buy local whenever possible. I hope you’ll join me!
When I suggested this on Facebook recently, one friend pointed out that bananas (a staple in both our households) aren’t grown anywhere near Seattle. This made me realize that “buying local” can have many definitions.
Here’s my definition for the purpose of the challenge:
1. Shop/eat only at stores/restaurants based in my city, preferably independent stores. (Seattle is the hometown of Starbucks, Amazon, and Nordstrom. Seattle participants can choose to include them or not–my definition doesn’t have to be your definition.)
2. Within those stores/restaurants, choose the locally-made or -grown version if there is one. So while there are no Pacific Northwest banana farmers, I can buy bananas at the local co-op and feel I’m at least partly shopping local. For other things like ice cream and tofu, I know that locally-produced options are available and I will seek them out.
Here’s some related food for thought from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:
“If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels every week.”
Hmm… so maybe I won’t buy bananas in August. Fortunately summer is a great time to eat local and eat really delicious meals.
But there’s a long list of things not made or grown in Seattle. When trying to shop local for clothes, I realized I don’t know of any locally-owned places to buy basic things like pajamas or underwear, for example.
Why shop local?
“Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.” — http://sustainableconnections.org/thinklocal/why/
For me, it means supporting my neighbors and connecting with them. I see the owners and employees of my local consignment store at the (local) coffee shop and grocery store and we smile at each other. The owner of the coffee shop sometimes asks my opinion when making decisions. The owner of the (sadly now defunct) local toy store replaced the brake and back wheel on my son’s scooter free of charge when they wore out. All of these people know me and my son by name. I just can’t imagine getting that kind of personal service at a name-brand chain store.
Please let me know if you’ll be joining my August challenge, and share your favorite local shops, wherever you may be!