Updated: Apr 3, 2020
There has never been a more important time than now to talk about all the reasons why we should choose to shop from small businesses on a daily basis. Not only is it a great way to support your local community and hear the stories behind each shop owner, but this article will show us how it is also an ethical choice that supports human rights and our planet.
Let's get into it!
1. Associate every purchase with a person.
Cheaper is not always better. There’s a ripple effect here. In order for big companies to make a profit on cheap clothing, a small portion of that price tag actually goes to the person (yes, there are still people making a lot of your clothes) who made the piece of clothing. The harsh reality is the person who made that shirt is most likely not being paid a fair hourly wage. At best, maybe their wages are livable for their country’s economy but still, if you were to visit the factory you would find their working conditions are very poor (unlike our cushy cubicles and PTO benefits). I know as customers we are very price sensitive and want to always score the best deal, but it’s important to consider, next time your refreshing your summer wardrobe, to look to smaller online businesses and local boutiques that may be more expensive but the price can sometimes be the easiest indicator of how ethically a product was made. Quality over quantity.
2. The Truth About Your Trash.
America is the land of convenience. We can order just about anything we want right to our doorstep. We are so lucky to have this convenience but sometimes it is easy to overlook the cost this has on our planet. Every time we receive something in the mail it is accompanied by wasteful packaging and a steep trail of transportation emissions. An article from wisegeek.com explains that packaging in the form of containers, styrofoam, paper waste, etc. is actually the number one contributor in landfills coming in at about 35%. Easy ways to eliminate our waste is simply visiting your neighborhood bodega with your reusable bags and purchasing your household items. As nice as it is to receive goods to your front door if we actually had to physically live with our trash and look at it everyday we would adopt these less convenient options in a new york minute.
3. Support Your Local Economy.
When you shop in your local community you are helping to support neighborhood owned businesses instead of big global companies. This means more money and tax dollars are kept in your community and as a result this creates more opportunities for the people living within that community. Opportunities in the form of creating more jobs for people living in the town is very important. After all, if there are no businesses in areas to provide jobs there will be no one living in these towns. Keeping tax dollars within your community will go to support things such as your local schools, roads and upkeep of your town. The idea of this circular small-town economy relies on shopping small, this results in a better quality of life for all the members and families living in the community.
4. It Feels Good
When you support local businesses you are supporting people’s dreams that they have poured their time and energy into. Most of the time when you are shopping in a small business, the owner is there working, you can not say the same about walking into your local Walmart to be greeted by the CEO, that just doesn’t happen. There is an aspect of personal connection and trust to whatever your purchasing because you know this was handpicked, hand made or specially sourced from the very person ringing you up. Shopping small also ensures there is integrity behind the products or service being offered, you know that they wouldn’t be offering it to you if they didn’t believe it because it is tied to their own reputation.
5. Its a reflection of the kind of community you want to live in.
If you live in a place long enough, you will see that businesses in town are a direct reflection of the people who live there. The people in the town have dictation over what kinds of businesses will thrive in their community by choosing where and who they want to spend their money with. For example, if you’re ever visiting California you will notice the abundance of trendy healthy food places to choose from because the people in the communities value that way of living and are willing to spend their money with those kinds of businesses. In my home state, Pennsylvania, although we are still growing our selection for trendy healthy food places, we do have a variety of great farm-to-table restaurants. This is a reflection of the agriculture and farming that is based here and relationships that restaurateurs have created with local farmers. Our towns are a reflection of the people who live there, and by supporting businesses you believe in, this will shape what your town looks like overtime.
Where to go from here.
I am not asking you to radically change the way and how you shop. I think the most important part of living a life with more ethical integrity is through awareness and small steps. I hope this article encourages you to think about the places and people you spend your money with because it does matter! Taking small steps like purchasing from your local farmers market, grabbing your next gift from the neighborhood boutique or choosing a small coffee shop on the corner instead of Starbucks, can add up and do amazing things for your community, our planet and the people living on it.
Comment your favorite small businesses below!
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