How many big box stores did you pass on your way home from work today? Chances are, if you live in or near a major city, the answer is several. Box stores are popping up on every corner in every city across the nation, much to the chagrin of local business owners. Box stores often provide slightly lower prices, a supply that exceeds demand and the convenience of being just down the street or around the way. But at what cost?
Help Save your Local Businesses
Drive through your city and pay attention to all of the local businesses that have closed up shop. This phenomena is taking place all over the country and can be traced, in part, to mega retailers. For every consumer who shops at a box store, a local business has lost a customer. For every person that eats at an Applebees or Texas Roadhouse, the local mom and pop diner has just lost a customer. Eventually, these lost customers total a number so great that the local business is forced to close forever.
Perhaps you’re the type of person that knows you should support local businesses but just needs a little push. Or perhaps you’re reading this and thinking it’s all hippie-dippy silliness and you need more convincing. In either case, here are some great reasons to stay out of the box stores and walk back through the doors of your locally owned store, restaurants and markets.
1. It’s Fresher
When you shop at your local market, you are virtually guaranteed that the produce is fresher. Rather than spending hours on a truck or in a train car, the produce is grown by and purchased from local farmers. The produce is picked, packaged and sitting on your market’s shelves for sale in far less time than it takes to get here from across the country. This may mean that certain produce is only available seasonally but that only gives you a chance to get more creative with your recipes! And remember, fresher often means healthier.
2. It’s Green
Supporting locally owned businesses is good for the environment. Goods produced overseas are the cause of a tremendous amount of carbon emissions. From factories to transportation, your carbon footprint is greatly increased when you purchase goods at a box store. For instance, a product made in China has to travel thousands of miles before it hits the shelves of Walmart or Target. The level of emissions released by this transportation is astronomical.
Transportation aside, when products are shipped they are packaged in such a way to ensure their undamaged arrival. This packaging is often made of Styrofoam, which is a petroleum based product. Not only do these packaging supplies generate greenhouse gas emissions during their lifecycle but they also end up in landfills. Styrofoam is not biodegradable, nor is it recyclable in many communities.
By supporting stores that produce their own goods or buy goods made by local artisans and farmers, your carbon footprint is practically eliminated.
3. It’s Supportive
By purchasing locally produced products and supporting local businesses, you are putting money back into the economy. Local businesses often hire local people to work in their shops, pay local taxes and support their local schools and organizations. In our weakened economy, it’s the local businesses who are doing the hiring, not the chain stores and mega-retailers. By supporting these businesses you are also supporting local citizens and workers.
At the end of the day it is often more convenient and cost-effective to shop at a big box store, or to dine at a chain restaurant; there’s no denying it. However, by supporting your community’s businesses, you are strengthening your local economy and reducing your carbon footprint. Ultimately, shopping locally just makes good sense.
Tina Sanchez is an avid recycler and corporate trainer who also writes for the Aviva Directory, a new verified website directory with site lists for everything from holistic physicians to sustainability. You can search by state, such as Oklahoma or by categories, like vegan food choices.