How Small Businesses Can Save the World

Buying locally-produced products is less convenient and yes, it is often more expensive, but it’s a long-term strategy that reduces your carbon footprint, strengthens your local economy, is environmentally friendly and will save you money in the long run.

I get it—you’re busy and broke and you don’t have time to drive to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Going to a large supermarket is cheaper and more convenient, but if you think about the long-term effects of your actions, you realize it’s better to go small or go home.

Community Building

In recent decades, the rise of corporations has deterred many local entrepreneurs from opening new businesses. Studies show that small businesses help to promote equality and build the middle class, leading to less poverty and a greater distribution of wealth. When you spend your money in small businesses, you are helping to keep your dollars in your community. You are creating jobs and increasing income for community members and you’re far more likely to procure that sponsorship for your local soccer team.

Small local businesses are more involved in their communities which means supporting them improves your neighbourhood and encourages civic participation. One study found locally-owned businesses generate 70% more local economic impact per square foot than retail chain stores. Local businesses pay more tax than large retail corporations who get tax breaks in a trickle-down economic system. Those tax dollars bolster your local services and infrastructure.

When goods are produced and sold in your local community, they have a smaller carbon footprint than goods produced overseas because they don’t have to be transported over long distances.

Pay the Farmer, or Pay the Doctor

I balk at the prices of organic food sometimes. I know it takes more time and effort to grow organics, but I often opt for the cheaper, more convenient option which suits my budget and my love of junk food. The truth is, that your health and environment are worth investing in. Studies show that pesticides in fruits and vegetables have a negative impact on the brain development  and IQ of babies in utero. Organic foods are virtually pesticide free and contain lower levels of dangerous heavy metals such as cadmium.

The nutritional value and anti-oxidant content of organic fruits and vegetables is higher in some cases while organic animal products contain 50% more omega-3 fatty acids.

Antibiotics used in farming have, according to the federal Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance, posed a threat to human health: “…the extensive use of antimicrobial drugs has rsulted in drug resistance that threatens to reverse the medical advances of the last seventy years.”

Pesticides and herbicides from farming have a negative impact on the environment and are threatening bee populations worldwide.

When you support local, organic farmers, you’re improving your own health and the health of your local wildlife and natural areas.

Developing Craftsmanship

When items are mass-produced in a factory, they have lost the art of craftsmanship. Local artisans who hand-craft items create one-of-a-kind pieces and maintain and develop traditional methods and skills. These skills also lead to innovation and creativity that would otherwise be lost. Buying unique, quality handmade items means you buy fewer things as they last longer.

Buying quality items is also good for the environment because they don’t end up in the landfill. Buying cheap, mass-produced items that break quickly means you spend more as you need to constantly replace things that have broken. You also add to your environmental impact through the manufacturing, transport and disposal of cheap items that end up in your local landfill.

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Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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