Supporting local businesses has become increasingly popular as a way to help the environment, but what makes it such a sustainable choice? There are dozens of benefits to shopping locally—we’ll share some of our favourites.
The first step to living more sustainably is to shop locally. But why is it so popular, and what are the benefits of shopping locally? Is it really better for the environment? Why? How else is it helpful? How does supporting local businesses actually affect our communities?
We’re here to give you the answers.
Shopping locally is an easy lifestyle change with big ripple effects. By keeping your shopping close to home, you can combat the effects of climate change. It might seem small, but small actions add up to make a difference.
By changing the way we live our lives and encouraging others to follow our example, we can start to shift what our community prioritises. We can go from supporting national chains that damage the environment to supporting local businesses that choose to actively help it.
Small but mighty
Supporting small businesses is connected to more sustainable values than you might think.
Another benefit to shopping locally is supporting your community, which in turn supports the local economy. After a couple of extremely tough years in a global pandemic, of course this is helpful and needed.
That’s why we’d like to mention Shop Appy. Shop Appy is an easy way for you to support local businesses, your local high street or market. Just select your town, then browse, book and buy local. It’s a fantastic example of how simple a sustainable swap can be! Not only that but you’ll be supporting your local community, what’s not to love?
Even in the best of times, keeping resources within a community has a number of positive effects that lead to a more sustainable home. And approximately £10 spent at a local independent shop means up to £50 will go back into the local economy.
Shopping local boosts community spirit, and encourages people to support one another. It can build relationships, both inside and outside of a local business.
In addition, small businesses are known to donate 250% more to local charitable causes than other larger chain competitors. A UK high street is a special place because it’s full of small businesses that are unique, friendly, familiar, and ready to help your community support itself.
Sustainable shopping means saving the planet—and saving money.
People often think that shopping locally means spending more money, but this isn’t necessarily true. Local shops usually have fair prices, and the savings in shipping or transportation costs to drive to a store further away make shopping local worthwhile. Also, there’s always the option to rent what you need instead of buying it.
While there are some deals online that are cheap, they come at a different cost—to their workers, and to the planet. Even to you, the customer, when you have to pay money to ship your items on an overseas plane or truck. Avoiding these costs is more sustainable for everyone involved, and one of the key benefits of shopping locally.
Increasing sustainability means shopping with a lower carbon footprint. The Energy Saving Trust’s data showed that car emissions account for 15% of the UK’s overall carbon emissions. The good news is that neighbourhoods with more local businesses have about 26% fewer automobile miles.
People are more likely to walk or cycle to local stores, or even travel a shorter distance in a car. As a result, there’s less pollution. When the air quality improves, so does the environment.
If it’s sustainable, it’s made to last.
Local shops often source products locally. This is where you can see the ripple effect of sustainability—by supporting a small business you believe in, you can trust that they in turn will uphold sustainable values.
For example, at a zero-waste store, it’s possible to take home ethically made, locally sourced, and environmentally friendly shampoo in your own containers.
An additional benefit of shopping locally is that the product you buy is likely to be better quality. Small shops have unique products that can’t be found elsewhere. Think of your local farmer’s market: as well as produce, sellers often have home baked goods, artisan jams, unique crafts, and handmade clothing.
You hit so many birds with one stone: less waste, less pollution, more convenience, more connection.
As an added health bonus, when you’re buying produce, you can trust that local food is often fresher. Think of your farmer’s market again, or a time you’ve visited a farm yourself to pick your own fruit. Have you ever tasted an apple that was as good as the one that came straight from a farm?
Fresh food is better for the environment and better for you. In this way, another benefit of shopping locally is that it’s sustainable for both yourself and your community.
Other sustainable shopping habits to adopt
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of shopping locally and supporting local businesses, here are some extra tips to make your shopping habits better for our planet.
Even if you’re not ready to commit to only shopping locally or exclusively buying sustainable food brands just yet, you can still adopt some sustainable shopping habits next time you pop to the supermarket. Many supermarkets are committed to being more eco-friendly now – and doing their bit to slowly reduce that plastic waste!
The following supermarkets all have refill stations, where you can bring your own container from home to refill, in some or all of their branches:
- Aldi added a refill station to their Ulverston branch in Cumbria this year. You can stock up on the staples like rice and pasta.
- ASDA has also got a refill station with 53 different products available at its store in Middleton, Leeds. By the end of this year, four more stores will have these stations. Refillable Yorkshire Tea? Now you’re talking our language.
- M&S has refill stations at 11 of its branches around London and the south. We really like the weighing stations, where you can weigh your container empty then full to ensure you get the best deal. Did we mention the refillable croissants?
- Tesco are doing something a little different. In partnership with Loop, they are offering refillable containers to their online customers. Convenient and eco-friendly… Every little helps.
- Last year, Sainsburys piloted a refill scheme for Ecover laundry detergent in stores across the UK. We love to see it!
Take a moment to think before you buy. So much of our consumption is automatic and unconscious, but if we make a mental or physical note of something we want to buy and don’t buy it on the spot but come back to it in a week – we will have a clearer mind as to whether we actually want it or not.
Take a look in your local charity shops. Charity shops have such a wide variety of items and often stock things that you need for a fraction of the retail price!
Join your local Freegle or Freecycle group. If there’s something you know you need/want, post a WANTED. If you’re doing a clear out and realise there’s a lot of stuff you don’t need or use anymore, post if for someone else!
Before you buy something, ask friends or family if they have what you need so that you can borrow it instead.
Use Ebay. Ebay has loads and loads of stuff on their website and you can often find cheaper good quality used products on there – which ultimately reduces your waste.
Look for rental services. Nowadays you can rent a car from your neighbour using Turo, a dress from Hire Street and Baby & Kids items from Y’earn.
There are also some great zero waste stores, these are some of our favourites and we hope there is a local store that you’ve found:
- Bulk Market, London: Bulk Market is a completely zero waste store in Hackney, East London. They even offer a next-day, zero-waste delivery, which is perfect for busy parents.
- Unwrapped, Sheffield: If you’re a vegetarian or vegan in the north of England, Unwrapped is an unmissable delight. They stock a huge range of veggie products as well as things to meet all your home and beauty needs.
- The Refill Store, Cornwall: With two shops in Cornwall, The Refill Store was founded by two mums who were inspired after watching David Attenborough’s Blue Planet documentary. It’s truly a one-stop shop for all of your needs.
- No Waste Jose, London: Founded by two London Mums dreaming of a better and no waste future for their families, No Waste Jose offers a refill service direct to your door! They ensure that the goods they sell are coming from suppliers that have circular systems, use recyclable material, support fair-trade, and are full of goodness! We love what this brand is doing and their range of products!
If you have a local sustainable no waste store that you love, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Join the Y’earn community
Like in a family unit, the individual can’t exist without the whole community.
In a sustainable community, people work together to lift one another up. Sustainably-minded consumers support sustainable small businesses. In turn, those sustainable businesses support the local economy and the environment.
At Y’earn, we value sustainability. We make it a priority to work with small businesses in our kids’ items rental program. Renting from us gives money to local parents in the Y’earn community, and items can be then sold or donated to charity.
We’re tied into the communities we serve. We believe families deserve to get the items they need in a way that’s sustainable, and we’re doing all we can to make it as easy as possible.
Now that you know how to shop sustainably in your own community, we hope you’ll join ours!
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If this is your first visit, hello, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Y’earn and we exist to create more love, less landfill. Pretty lofty, right? Well, not really, it’s actually pretty simple. Our aim is to make renting as common as owning so we live more sustainably while helping the community around us.
Y’earn is a parent-to-parent marketplace to rent Baby & Kids items from people in your community or make some cash if you have items you don’t need right now. We’re a sustainable business that plants 🌲, adopts 🐝 and donates to children’s charities. We’re helping each other and the planet, one rental at a time.
You can read more about how Y’earn works here.
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