This post is a part of A Greener Christmas Guide, a series of posts dedicated to celebrating the holidays with a lighter impact on the earth. For more of this series, please visit A Greener Christmas Guide.
Every year at this time, my hometown in the United States starts a huge campaign that urges citizens to BUY LOCAL with five exclamation points. I’m not really sure what that means, and everyone in town seems to have a different idea. So is it:
I’m pretty sure the city’s reason to urge local shopping is the economic benefit of a few bucks, which is good. They don’t really mention the green effects of shopping locally… which makes any of the above answers even better.
When you buy locally, you’re reducing vehicle emissions and your carbon footprint because it’s more efficient for huge semis and trains to transport our stuff than for all of us to drive 60 kilometers. When the products you buy are made locally, you’re saving hundreds (probably thousands) of shipping miles. Bonus points when the products you buy are actually grown and produced locally.
Buying Local Food
Unfortunately, you can’t find local products very easily in the grocery store. I’m not really sure why. Our family is puzzled and way too frustrated by the fact that our local chain grocery stores back in the US doesn’t sell tortillas made 30 miles away or ice cream made 90 minutes away. Instead, their tortillas and ice cream come from factories over a thousand miles away. Products that are shipped so far usually have more chemicals, additives, and preservatives, so they’re already not as eco-friendly as local foods before they even load the truck to start their journey.
Most of my neighbors have no idea that they can find the exact same food sources so close to home. It’s like citizens of big beef-producing states don’t even get hamburgers from local cows. Shop locally?
That’s one of the greatest benefit of organic and locally-owned grocery stores. They’re more likely to carry these local items or be open to considering them. Martin and I ask every US grocery store we shop at to consider local products. Only two have responded – they are family businesses.
Want To Give Some Local Yummies This Holiday?
Finding Not-Made-In-China Stuff
The paintbrush I coated our house in yellow with was made in Germany. So was our level, and I think the screws were, too. Germany works hard to carry the “Made in Germany” logo. But short of Nalgene water bottles and Maglites, we don’t see much “Made in USA” logos. That’s why we started looking locally for our US holiday gifts.
Want some local ideas?
Ready to Take the Local Challenge?
So instead of buying a poinsettia this year consider thinking a little locally (any idea how many miles those things travel? I have no idea UPDATE: A local nursery two miles from my parents house grows its own poinsettias in green houses). Buy local gifts and Mother Earth will thank you. I’ll thank you. And best of all? the recipient will thank you.
Now spill it. Any local gift ideas up your sleeves? Won’t you leave us some ideas and spread some green holiday cheer?