The technological boom of the last decade has created an appetite for immediacy that threatens entrepreneurs and local businesses worldwide.
Big Stores Are Dominating the Market in Our “Now” Culture
It’s no secret – big stores like Amazon dominate the market with an overflow of stock ready to deliver immediately.
And others are following. At least those who can compete...
Did you know that 51% of retailers offer same-day delivery, and 65% plan to within the next two years? Large stores like Walmart, Target, and Kroger have been forced to compete. They must offer comparable buying options – especially during a worldwide pandemic.
Free shipping, next-day delivery, two-hour delivery, and in-store pick-up are becoming the norm. And if businesses can’t comply, they lose customers.
The often-overlooked downsides?
- Many small businesses are losing steam trying to compete. There aren’t enough resources for homegrown businesses to support the cost of same-day delivery or free shipping.
- Our environment suffers from mountains of industrial waste. Large corporations prioritize production and quick delivery over sustainable shipping practices.
- Our communities lose their unique charm. Small businesses are the backbone of tourism and one-of-a-kind experiences.
Yet, it’s not time to give up! It’s time to come together. Making the time and effort to support small businesses is becoming more important than ever before. It’s the path for sustainable, healthy economies and improved environmental impact.
There’s hope! Despite quick delivery options and a pandemic era of convenience and safety, last year 1 in 5 people said they would shop local for Christmas.
Now that our world is returning to normal, let’s re-focus on supporting small businesses. They need us now more than ever. And more importantly, we hope you’ll see that WE also need them.
How You Can Shop Sustainably to Support the Economy and the Environment
There are so many ways to shop local you might overlook. Here’s how to support small business owners working hard to give their customers the best!
Choose Local Service-Based Businesses
- Local car shops – Local auto shops often have very reasonable prices and a reputation for honest work. Likely, you won’t be overcharged or taken advantage of when there’s a personal face behind the brand.
- Local banks – There’s a personal touch that makes the experience pleasantly different. Many local banks offer a surprising variety of services, charge smaller fees, and give back to the community in tangible ways.
- Professional service firms – These businesses include lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, or advertising. Many of these locally-owned businesses will go the extra mile for clients. They also give back to the community while creating jobs that boost the local economy.
Eat Locally Whenever Possible
- Shop at farmers markets – Farmers markets are an enjoyable weekly grocery trip! Three of every four farmers say they use practices consistent with organic standards. Many of these small business owners value sustainable farming practices. They simply choose to invest in affordable produce instead of paying for organic certification.
- Choose a CSA instead of the grocery store – Community Supported Agriculture or CSA plans have been around forever, but they’re gaining traction. It’s a fun, accessible option for those who want to eat locally and support a local entrepreneur.
A CSA plan is an agreement between a local farm and a consumer. The farm supplies seasonal produce at a discounted rate in exchange for a yearly fee. In 2020 CSA plans became popular as consumers found a new way to explore recipes and food varieties. Hooray!
- Support local restaurants instead of chains – Locally-owned restaurants benefit your community. And they often practice sustainable sourcing and serve eco-friendly farm-fresh food. Menus are typically seasonal and have a unique flair while sourcing local ingredients.
Shop Local When It Comes to Gifts and Goods
- Furniture or home goods – Many local shops are the lifeblood of talented artisans who have spent years refining their craft. Support your local culture and entrepreneurs by shopping sustainably for your home. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, support a small business that stocks its products within an online shop. Hello, Zero Waste Outlet!
- Gifts – Any occasion is an excellent opportunity to support local businesses and artisans. Gifts have a deeper meaning when they’re handmade by an artist or a passionate entrepreneur. It also encourages creativity in your community!
The Benefits of Shopping Local
Fresher, Higher-Quality Produce
Shopping locally allows you to try unique produce and support earth-friendly farming practices. Feel confident in what you’re putting in your body. Local produce lasts longer and has a unique traceability factor.
Can you say that about your chain store produce?
Local produce and food items are less processed and kinder to environmental and personal health. Research has shown that there are even more vitamins present in organic produce.
Feel More Connected in a Disconnected World
You continue the trend of supporting small businesses when you shop locally. This is true because many small businesses intentionally support one another. It creates a ripple effect.
Thriving local businesses create jobs. That means easily accessible jobs for lower-income residents who rely on public transportation. Sustaining local jobs means people have more control over their lives and are happier in society. It’s a win-win!
Small businesses listen to feedback. Your voice is heard when you offer insight, feedback, or suggestions. Customer service is essential to companies represented by the face of an entrepreneur. They’re typically more friendly and offer a more personalized experience.
Know Where Your Money is Going.
Feel good about who and what you’re supporting through your purchases. Shopping small boosts the local economy and supports families in your community.
For example, only 14% of money spent at a chain retailer stays in the local economy, compared to 48% spent on independent businesses.
Locally-owned businesses take responsibility for the satisfaction of their customers. They’re often far more transparent, open to questions, and easily accessible. Your purchase supports minorities and individuals. You’re paying someone who’s personally invested in your experience as a customer.
Shopping Locally is Eco-FriendlyLocal shops typically create less environmental impact than large corporations.
When you buy local, you’re helping eliminate carbon waste since your purchases don’t require shipping. Many local items and produce also don’t need traditional packaging or preserving like other products do (i.e., protective plastic wrap, bulky packaging, preservatives, etc.).
For the most part, local business owners are more intentional and aware of their collective and environmental impact. They have an appreciation for the community that supports their dream and want to invest in its well-being.
When it comes to food, Doug Rauch, the former president of the Trader Joe’s Company, has first-hand knowledge about America’s food waste. He’s seen shocking quantities of food discarded because customers expect perfect fruit and vegetables.
Fun fact for your next food run: If you made just one trip each week on foot instead of making a 10-mile round trip by car, you’d reduce your annual driving by 520 miles (that’s a lot of pollution!)
What Goes Around Comes Around
We don’t have to tell you, but what goes around comes around. Supporting local means more options become available and your community thrives. Your environmental impact naturally shrinks.
Did you know research shows communities with a greater number of small businesses have healthier people?!
We won’t lie. Supporting eco-friendly businesses is usually more expensive. It may not be as cost-effective as shopping online at a big corporation. Yet it will benefit your economy directly and come back to help you and your community.
At Zero Waste Outlet, we aren’t just talking from experience. We’re living it too. Our founder Brian and his wife sell produce and flowers at their local farmers market. It’s one of his favorite parts of each week and what made him appreciate eco-friendly shopping.
Not sure where to start? City websites often have lists of small businesses. Or visit your farmers market or a festival to get connected.
When you can’t support local businesses, make an effort to shop package free.
With the holidays fast approaching, find a local sustainable business you can support. Choose one that’s eco-friendly and creates a lasting impact on your community!
This is a fantastic article! Brian & both appreciate your work very much.