Wednesday, March 27, 2013

GONE LOCAL Week Twelve: We Did It! (and YOU should too!)

For the past three months I have been buying from strictly locally owned businesses. In the beginning we all thought this was going to be a hardship, each for our own reasons. My kids worried a cheezit would never pass their lips again and I’d feed them a steady diet of kale and whole wheat noodles. My husband worried I’d spend all the money hiding under our mattresses. I mostly worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Putting aside the handful of slip-ups in regards to hairproducts and auto-repair, for the most part we have survived on the goods sold by locally owned businesses exclusively since January 1. And once more, we’ve more than survived, we’ve thrived.

We’ve saved money, time, and gas, made new friends, eaten better in terms of both taste and health, and quite honestly, had a lot of fun. Along the way, I’ve been confronted by people who thought I was just a wee-bit overboard and plenty of skeptical people, but I’ve also been helped by people who shared ideas and local sources.

The coolest part has been meeting store owners who appreciate my efforts and talking with friends who vowed to try to buy more locally themselves. My brother out in New Mexico e-mailed me over the weekend that he and his beautiful wife had gone out for dinner in a locally owned downtown establishment after reading last week’s post.

Reflecting on the impact of buying locally these past few months has made me even more convinced that we have the power to heal our own communities. There’s no need to wait for the government to take action or the economy to bounce back, we have the power to help our friends, neighbors, and ourselves by simply thinking before we shop. If everyone made a conscientious effort to buy from locally owned businesses, even if it isn’t convenient or familiar, it would only be a matter of time before things began to turn around. Cash is, after all, the grease that spins the wheel of our local economy.

On April 1, my experiment is officially over, but the new shopping habits I’ve developed will not end. I will continue to buy exclusively from locally owned businesses. I can’t go back to wasting money at Wal-Mart and running to Giant every time I run out of something. I will continue to plan my shopping excursions, explore new local venues, and be deliberate about every purchase.

The argument most vehemently made to me about my quest has been cost in terms of cash and time. By consolidating my trips and doing without a few things, I have easily saved time. The slight dent in the cleanliness of my house is a testament to that fact. And as I wrote about a few weeks ago, we’ve saved literally hundreds of dollars.

But these are selfish reasons to continue to shop locally, the bigger reason, the reason that should weigh on
all our hearts, is the fact that shopping locally is what’s best for our community. And we all recognize that obligation, even if it’s buried beneath years of apathy. To paraphrase JFK, “Ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community.” So, don’t do it for yourself, even though you will benefit tremendously, shop locally to help the people you call neighbors and friends.

Note: I’ve discovered so many great local businesses that I’ve added a tab on my blog listing my favorites including location, website, and my recommendations. Please let me know if you think I missed a great York County business.

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