Living Locally: the act of conscious consumerism focused on a local economy and market. A general idea that by supporting local, the community benefits in a multifaceted way. A feel-good act of conscious consumerism.
By thinking about what we need to purchase, and critically thinking about where we are making those purchases, we can start to identify easy shopping habits that we can change to better and more easily support the local economy, and increase the prosperity of our neighbourhoods.
For example, when you need to get a new outfit for a social function, what places to shop immediately spring to mind? Are your go-to stores located in a mall, or are they independent structures? Are they chain shops or are they locally owned specialty boutiques?
Chances are, the vast majority of folks will think about these questions and realize that the answer is generally "a shop in the mall." It is reasonable, given the amount of advertising done by malls, shopping centres, and chain-stores, that the first places we think of when we need to buy new clothes are typically commonly-found chain stores. This is because the average local boutique doesn't have a big advertising or marketing budget, making it more difficult for them to be front of mind.
By thinking simply about where our goods are coming from: including things like groceries, clothes, and household products, we can be cognizant of whether or not we are choosing to support local or not.
Living Locally vs. Convenient & "cheap"
When we chat with folks, many of the reasons people give for defaulting to the box-stores is that they are a "convenient place where I can get everything in one trip." And it's true: superstores/department stores are designed to be a complete one-stop-shop destination where you can get everything you are looking for from food, clothes, basic household necessities, even more specialized products like hardware, paint, and gardening supplies. In terms of convenience it is a perfect formula.
However, there are hidden costs to this convenience that most consumers don't spend a lot of time thinking about. We will be going through a lot of these hidden costs in future posts: things like municipal tax deals, harmful labour practices, and wage gaps in the corporate structures. We will look at commute times to and from shops, multi-modal transportation and access, and the truth behind the "bargain" prices at these stores.
Shopping locally doesn't have to be inconvenient though. With some minimal planning, and practicing of conscientious consumerism, it's actually quite easy to shop locally. Next article, we will get into some handy tips and tricks for Living Locally and explain a couple of the best practices we have found. Until then, start thinking about how and what you consume, and take a look around your place of residence: how much of that stuff do you actually need?