The impact of shopping locally

Bridget Janis, Staff Reporter

A local business owner in Howell, MI, Kennedy Martin owns an online shop called Bee Love Candles Co. She makes and sells spiritually-charged soy candles made from all-natural ingredients since January 2019. 

“Shopping at small businesses is better for the environment because they are not working at huge factories — it’s just one person running it,” Martin said. “Also, it supports people rather than a corporation.” 

Martin also works at a local coffee shop in downtown Howell, Black Iron Coffee Roasters. She said since reopening their business, it has been slower. Since she relies on these two local businesses for income, Martin encourages people to shop locally.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, shopping locally has become a bigger conversation topic. 

“Buying local today and in the coming weeks isn’t going to improve our economy, better the quality of our lives, and generally build a stronger community right away,” Levi Lawrence, the founder of Real Food Connections, said.But, it’s intentioned and effective, it has an effect, an action in the right direction, a paddle toward the destination we want to go to.”

Lawrence has been working for six years, building relationships between those who produce food and those who eat food around New Brunswick, Canada. In the TED Talk “The powerful impact of buying local,” he talks about how compared to 50 years ago, communities have come out of balance.

By shopping at corporations, the money spent there is not staying within that community and is going elsewhere. While these companies do pay local wages, Lawrence said the biggest portion of those profits do not stay within the system of the community you are spending in.

Lawrence said how shopping locally can help this issue, making the money circulate within that community and creating that balanced community that was there 50 years ago.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, local shops have been struggling to keep their doors open and online business owners have been trying to get more customers to stay afloat.

According to an article published by the Washington Post called “Keeping your distance is good for public health but tough for small businesses” by Jeanne Whalen, small businesses make up 44% of the U.S. economy. 

The article “Why is it important to support local and small businesses”, by André Gonçalves, said how shopping locally is a win-win situation. Purchasing from local businesses will directly help that shop with being able to stay open and have an environmental impact.

“These businesses usually carry a greater portion of locally-produced goods coming from smaller-scale producers and farms, Gonçalves said. “Therefore, their products may be eco-friendlier since smaller quantities are produced.”

Gonçalves said most small businesses try to use all-natural products when producing items. This guarantees the customer will know exactly where their products are made, what it is made with and how it helps out the environment.

According to “9 ways your small business can help save the environment” by Devin Martin, small businesses have many opportunities to be better for the planet. He said small businesses can switch to sustainable packaging for their customers and evaluate their vendor’s social and environmental impact.

With these steps, local shops can be eco-friendlier and provide customers with the satisfaction of knowing they are shopping more environmentally friendly.