Eco-Rep Green Corner: Buy the best just by staying local

For people living in the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine a world without a Starbucks on every corner or dozens of familiar chains in shopping malls. Over the past few decades, businesses have become nationalized, franchised, industrialized and commercialized. Gone are the days of fresh produce from local farms. Or are they?

Local business has gone from necessity to obscurity as mass transportation has become easier and cheaper. With the growing awareness of an energy crisis, however, environmentally conscious Americans are giving their minds and their money to local businesses instead of chains. Next time you have the choice between golden arches and a local business, here are some facts to keep in mind:

  • Profits made by local businesses stay in the community, whereas big chain profits go mainly to headquarters and suppliers.
  • Local businesses take more pride in their products, while chain stores mass produce their merchandise.
  • Big chains are more likely to import products from far away, creating a larger carbon footprint from travel emissions. Local businesses generally buy and sell locally, reducing emissions and pollution.
  • More money is spent on advertising for chain stores than on quality assurance or customer service, but local businesses rely on these things to keep their customers satisfied.
  • Big businesses usually have to clear land for construction, therefore depleting the environment and ruining the natural landscape of a community. Local businesses occupy far less space and do not require extensive construction.
  • Local businesses circulate money throughout the community by supporting other local business owners, farmers and banks, while chain stores outsource their production, sometimes internationally.

Our very own Princeton, N.J. is a hotbed for small business owners. Next time you’re in town, check out Small World Coffee, where beverages are brewed locally and organically, and food is hormone-, antibiotic- and cage-free. For dessert, stop by The Bent Spoon, where ice cream flavors are made with fruit from New Jersey’s Terhune Orchards and Cherry Grove Organic Farm, and local, hormone-free dairy and eggs. Another local ice creamery is Halo Pub, which operates straight from its own Halo Dairy Farm in Trenton, N.J.

Overall, small, local businesses are beneficial to the environment, the community, the employee and you, the customer. The difference in cost for locally grown produce or organic coffee is worth the positive impression you’re making on the environment, and worth the lost business for chain stores.

– Heather Jones

Westminster Eco-Rep

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