Local Businesses are Environmentally Friendly
Local businesses are interwoven with their local environment, giving them more incentive to have environmentally friendly practices. Also, because the businesses operate closer to the point of sale excess waste in the form of gas, spoiled food, and product packaging are also reduced. But, just because a business is local does not ensure that it is automatically environmentally friendly. We encourage you to ask your local businesses what they do to help support the environment.
Fewer Miles Traveled
Since local businesses typically make local purchases the amount of miles traveled to produce their goods is reduced. Iowa State University in 2001 found that eating three conventionally prepared meals required 12,558 food miles. Yet, when those same ingredients were bought from local businesses, identical meals required only 1,198 miles of transportation. This is a remarkable 84% reduction in the number of the food miles. Likewise, local businesses usually operate from city centers since they don’t need the wide expanses that large box stores need (O’Kelly 2009). This means that consumers on average travel less miles to buy the products as well. All this reduction in transportation means less gas and less traffic; consequently leading to better air quality and less greenhouse gases. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions found that carbon dioxide, released in fossil fuel combustion, is the principal greenhouse gas contributing to climate change (2003). Therefore, sourcing your products from local businesses can help curb climate change and protect the future of the planet.
With fewer miles traveled, produce arrives quicker and fresher leading to less spoiled food going to waste. Since products from local businesses travel shorter distances, these goods also require less packaging to protect them on their journeys. This means less plastic, less non-biodegradable materials, and a smaller strain on landfills overall. On top of this, when it comes to local food, refrigerated trucks and warehouses can largely be avoided further cutting down the ecological footprint of your produce. Thus, buying from local businesses can help reduce food waste, packaging in landfills, and carbon emissions.
The typical supercenter uses between 180,000 to 250,000 square feet not including the large parking lots that surround the stores themselves (Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 2008). In fact, all the Walmarts in the US combine to the area of twice the size of Manhattan (Zitzman, 2019). These large concrete slabs of space destroy local habitat and lead to lower water tables and increased, often polluted, water run-off (Institute for Local Self-Reliance, 2007). Opportunities to find this much available space in city centers are sparse, which means that these superstores turn towards city edges for suitable construction zones. This is what is known as urban sprawl. Contrastingly, local businesses overwhelmingly choose existing buildings to set up shop and use less land in general to run their stores. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that most main street properties used less than 1,000 square feet (2008). Furthermore, keeping local farmers in business offers important wildlife habitats and animal travel corridors. If these farmers were to close, this land might instead be converted into industrial parks, commercial centers, or other environmentally poor development choices. Supporting local businesses means less sprawl, less traffic, less pollution, and less habitat loss.