With the new year fast approaching it’s time to take inventory; and after a mayhem-filled holiday shopping season, reign-in and streamline our approach to consumption. Think before you buy — taking a few seconds to evaluate your shopping choices can save you money, help the planet and benefit local businesses and craftsman that are a meaningful component of the local community.
Shopping – size matters
- Drive right by that big box. Price isn’t everything. You can generally find products similarly priced at smaller local shops and food stores if you do a little legwork and look for deals – you may also find better quality goods and less made-in-China junk if you avoid the mega-stores.
- Think about who you’re buying from and how they treat their employees – both McDonald’s and Walmart are facing protests for not paying their employees a living wage.
Food – buy local
- Buying from local farmers, farm stands and local, regional food markets can make a tremendous difference in the quality of meats, poultry and produce you put in your body. Big agricultural companies and the giant big box stores that feature their foods ship their meats and produce in giant refrigerator trucks and shipped hundreds, if not thousands of miles before it hits a store shelf. Food is often shipped frozen, or so heavily refrigerated that it’s designed to ripen on the store shelves – robbing the foods of nutritional value, flavor and freshness – not to mention the chemical fertilizers, insecticides, hormones and genetic engineering that are used to increase profitability while turning a blind eye to long term consumer health issues.
- The animals that comprise the raw materials of the big poultry and beef providers are raised in filth, squalor and the most inhumane environments imaginable and are often injected with or fed antibiotics and hormones that we consume – not pretty picture.
- Local farmers generally take better care of their crops and critters – avoiding the short-cuts and chemical additives that ensure a healthy profit margin and the resulting crappy unhealthful food quality. In addition to freshness and better quality, your local farmers are actually paying property taxes in your community and contribute to a more diverse patchwork of land use, businesses and culture.
Fashion – keep it green
- Our advice – read those labels. It matters how and where things are made. As with food, buying local, or from small crafts people and designers has many benefits. Many fashion products are produced in the worst kind of sweat shops in the Far East and Mexico – think about that before you buy that scarf or blouse made in China or the Philippines. Saving a couple of bucks shouldn’t always be the paramount issue. (more…)