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Consumers may know that buying local helps grow the local economy by supporting local business owners and creating jobs, but they may not realize the positive impact that buying local can have on the environment as well.
Eco-conscious consumers often go to great lengths to ensure their money is being spent in an environmentally friendly way. But one of the easiest ways to be an eco-friendly consumer is to support local businesses:
•Shopping locally reduces the environmental impact of your purchases. When buying from a large national chain store, chances are that the products you're purchasing were produced outside of your local community, even across the globe. That means those products were shipped to reach the store shelves in your community, which likely resulted in greater fuel consumption and air pollution. Local businesses often buy their supplies from other local businesses, cutting down on shipping and, as a result, benefitting the environment.
•Local businesses typically need less space for their stores, which allows them to set up shop right in the heart of town as opposed to on the town's outskirts. That makes local businesses more accessible to community residents, who might be able to walk or take a short bike ride to smaller, local businesses. On the contrary, larger chains tend to diversify their offerings and, as a result, need more space. This often pushes them to the fringes of towns, eliminating the possibility of walking to the store. That means consumers will have to drive to the store, increasing their fuel consumption and their carbon footprint as a result.
•Local businesses often employ members of the community, which translates to shorter commutes, less highway congestion and less fuel consumption. So while shopping locally reduces your carbon footprint, it's also helping members of your community reduce their own potentially negative impact on the environment.
•Many people prefer to buy locally grown foods because they feel such foods are more fresh and buying locally grown foods reduces fuel consumption. Those things are true, but buying locally grown foods also can help protect local wildlife. When local farms can afford to stay in operation, local farmers are far less likely to sell their lands to developers. That can help protect the habitats of local wildlife.