One of my biggest learnings from lockdown is the true meaning of a consumer footprint, and how unaware most of us are of our own individual impact. Your consumer footprint is basically the environmental impact of everything you consume within a year. Pretty scary when you stop and think about it right?
At the peak of lockdown, for the first time in many of our lives, especially the younger generation, basics became luxuries as the empty shelves and sold out websites revealed the (often hidden) realities of supply chains and the depths of a product journey – from factory to customer.
But it really feels, and I’m so hopeful it’s true, like this ‘great pause’ has lead much of society to be awakened to the conveyor belt of over consumption we’ve been caught on since mass consumption began, after World War 2. With no shops to browse or planes to catch, and more financial uncertainty, we’ve started considering our purchases with far more scrutiny than before. One trip to the supermarket each week meant we bought what we actually needed. Spare time had us sorting out our wardrobes and realising how much we already owned. Nowhere to go lead to a surge in DIY and home improvements and the rediscovery of entertaining at home. It is safe to say each of us is now far more aware of where our money goes and I hope the impact it can have.
But when you do decide to buy something, did you know buying locally is the greener option?
- Locally sourced produce has a much shorter product journey, it therefore uses less energy
- You personally travel a shorter distance, hopefully on foot or by bicycle, and therefore use less energy
- Items that don’t have to travel as far don’t have to be packaged so securely, reducing the use of plastic and packaging materials
- Demand for local shops provides local jobs, meaning people don’t travel as far to work
Not to mention all the other upsides too… okay I’ll just mention a few!
- An independent retail scene means that your local area will be a nicer, more appealing place to live
- Spending locally means more money goes back into localized initiatives
- The community and connection you get from local, independent retailers simply cannot be replicated buy a chain store or retail giant
- Quality, quality, quality – when someone loves what they do (and believe me an independent retail is not doing it for any other reason) you get better products and a better service
I’d bet that the majority of people can name more local businesses that ever right now. Perhaps your local bakery saved you when you couldn’t get eggs or bread, or a business you discovered on Instagram made sure your best friend knew you cared when you couldn’t be there on her birthday. Try it, ask yourself, your friends and your family what businesses they’ve discovered during lockdown? Why not make a commitment, no matter how small, that you will continue long after lockdown ends.. Such as still getting your Sunday loaf from the baker down the road, or never buying a supermarket greeting card again!
So, whilst on the one hand Jeff Bezos is now the wealthiest person in the world, on the other there is change afoot and you now have even more reasons to feel good when you’re shopping locally!