Looking for fresh local food? Try Locavore to find out what's in season, how to cook it and where to find it.
The next time you head out the door to do some shopping, consider making purchases from a locally owned business, or from non-local outlets which source most or all of their goods and services here in Fort Lauderdale or somewhere in South Florida.
By itself, local buying cannot provide enough leverage to offset our resource consumption. It is one of many tools that a consumer can use to make purchasing more sustainable. When combined with overall consumption reduction, and the purchase of products which use fewer resources overall and produce fewer total GHG emissions, buying locally can seal the sustainability deal.
Local purchases help to increase local employment, not just because your purchase supports the retailer, but because that retailer may rely on other local businesses. The power of your local purchase is magnified throughout our community. Buying local tends to increase the circulation speed of money within a community.That means the money passes through more hands, giving more people opportunities to make purchases with that money.
Buying products made or sourced in our area, or at least making your purchase right here, cuts down on the total resources that were used to bring that product to you. Often less fuel is expended for transportation and fewer materials are used in packaging. GHG emissions are lower as a result, and there is less waste to manage.
Purchasing goods and services from an independent store, or a store that sources locally, supports our local economy. Consider that:
For every square foot a local firm occupies, the local economy gains $179 dollars, versus $105 dollars when the owner is located somewhere else.
Of $100 dollars spent at a locally owned business, $68 dollars returns to the local community, versus $43 dollars when the owner is not local.
What is local?
By sustainability standards, a generally accepted range for local buying is 50 miles from where the product will be used. In our area, you can get past Cutler Bay into deep south Miami-Dade, or north of Palm Beach, or past Weston and deep into the Everglades and the Miccosukie Indian Reservation. Between us and those places are providers of almost eveything your home or business might need. And these days, you don't even have to drive (and you shouldn't!). Online shopping and consolidated distribution has made everything accessible.
Supporting local businesses also supports the creation of a sense of place in a city. Generally speaking, people like to feel as if their city possesses character and is distinct from surrounding cities. Locally owned stores can provide a unique sense of place. This also helps to draw visitors.
You may also experience better service when choosing to shop at a local business. Most local businesses hire people who have a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know their customers because they are their neighbors!
There is great debate about buying locally. We agree that from an environmental point of view only, the local choice is not always the best choice. Great care must be taken to ensure that you select products that minimize total use of resources and total emissions. However, when other factors are considered, such as the positive impact to our economy and to our community character, then buying locally can make sense for Fort Lauderdale neighbors. When it comes to food in particular, our climate supports year-round agriculture and a great variety of produce, therefore buying locally produced food usually makes sense in our area.
The following articles present various sides of the buy local debate.