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Consumers are often urged to “buy local,” as well as fair trade and organic. Since it can be more expensive to buy local, some consumers question why it is important. In fact, there are arguments on both sides of the "buying local" debate. People who support buying local argue that it creates a sort of chain effect which can revitalize communities, improve working conditions, and have a positive impact on the environment. Thanks to a growing number of "buy local" movements, many regions of the world promote "buy local" campaigns, making it easy for consumers to identify local independent stores with branding such as stickers and placards.
When it comes to food, some activists believe in the “100 mile diet” — the idea that people should only consume food grown within 100 miles (161 kilometers) of them. By buying local food, you can reduce the impact on the environment by shrinking the number of “food miles” that the food must travel to reach you. You can also support small independent farms rather than corporate businesses. Eating locally can also help you learn more about the natural environment around you. Connecting with your food providers is yet another benefit if you buy local at farmers' markets or through community support agriculture (CSA).
Buying locally produced consumer goods is also valuable. By doing so, you support local businesses which hire locals, pay more taxes, and spend money at other local businesses. Therefore, your money stays in the community, rather than traveling outside of it. When you need goods that are not manufactured in your community, you can still buy them in independently owned local stores, and support the local economy. In the United States, consumers are encouraged to buy goods made in the USA, as they are less likely to use child labor and harmful environmental practices than those made in nations with more permissive labor and environmental laws.
If you buy local along with organic and fair trade, you are also sending a message to companies which produce consumer goods. By indicating that you support your local economy, you are showing a commitment to your community, and an intent to form a stronger economic base for your home region. You are also showing a commitment to locally owned businesses, rather than corporations which hire locals, but take the money they earn elsewhere. In addition, you support a clearly visible supply chain which allows you to see where your goods come from, and how they are produced. Finally, you indicate that you care about working conditions and the environment, and are willing to pay more for cruelty free goods.
Although it may be more expensive in the short term to buy local, it may have positive long-term benefits which should not be overlooked. Buying local may enhance the wealth of your community by working with local businesses, which may in turn make your area more pleasant to live in. With a higher percentage of money staying in the community, cities can afford to engage in civic improvement, better support schools, and sponsor the arts and letters in your community. Buying local can revitalize downtown business districts, which often suffer when a big box store comes into town, and will strengthen your ties with neighbors and business associates.
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