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How does shopping locally benefit the environment?

June 3, 2020

Celebrate World Environment Day by supporting local

On a global day which revolves around considering the importance of nature, how we can come together to protect the natural world? Shopping locally can be a great way to benefit the environment by reducing the supply chain and the distance that goods have to be transported. 

One of the benefits of the current pandemic is the sense of community coming together and a drive to shop local, helping independent businesses to survive. Plus, the shortages experienced by supermarkets at the beginning of lockdown and the focus on supply chains has led many of us to re-evaluate our shopping habits, considering where we choose to spend our money, where our purchases are coming from and how these products are made. 

Just Be soap bars
Soap by cargo bike, anyone?

Make last mile deliveries carbon neutral with bicycle couriers

Unlike deliveries across the country by petrol guzzling vehicles, bike deliveries are carbon neutral. 

Some Edinburgh businesses, like Farr Out Deliveries, have taken the environmental benefit of shopping locally even further by providing delivery by bike. There are a wide range of businesses offering this service, including Lighthouse Bookshop, who will deliver your new favourite novel, and Just Be Botanicals, who can meet all your skincare needs with their bike deliveries.

If you are also looking to eat more plant-based foods to benefit the environment, you can have delicious vegan (and non-vegan!) soups delivered by Union of Genius on their cargo bike. (I can personally recommend the soups with the olive bread.)

Books from Lighthouse Bookshop
Your new favourite novel?

Choose local deliveries for reduced mileage 

Although there is increased awareness of the negative implications of consumerism and fast fashion for the environment, many of us are unaware of the environmental impact of the delivery process itself. The process of posting a letter on average produces 26g of carbon dioxide, with parcels creating significantly more. To put this into perspective, boiling the kettle produces 15g of carbon.

Although not all local businesses deliver by bike, they are still travelling a much shorter distance than national companies to bring you your shopping. The reduced mileage travelled by local businesses will in turn reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide produced by delivery vehicles. A change to shopping locally therefore has the potential to massively help the environment - which sounds like another great excuse to hit the local shops!

It's important to bear in mind the origins of the products you are purchasing too, as locally produced items which are bought locally are undoubtedly one of the best options for the planet. For example, Archipelago Artisan Bakery sells baked goods made with Scottish ingredients as much as possible, plus any unsold items are heavily discounted the next day to reduce food waste. So you can buy delicious cakes whilst also benefiting the environment - and if that isn’t an excuse for cake, I don’t know what is!

Freshly baked loaf of bread
Freshly made with Scottish ingredients

Shop eco-friendly products for even more local benefits

As well as shopping local to help the environment, many businesses now sell a range of eco-friendly and plastic-free products which benefit the planet even more. The Eco Larder sells a range of packaging-free fruit and vegetables as well as loose pasta, rice and other essentials so you can fill up your own container. The Eco Larder, who are also a social enterprise, are currently running a fantastic scheme whereby your shopping is delivered by volunteers using a cargo bike for a fee of £5. The £5 you pay is used to provide food for local food banks, helping the most vulnerable during this difficult time. 

The Eco Larder is not alone in its plastic-free, socially conscious goals, which demonstrates an increase in demand for local, environmentally aware businesses that provide shoppers with the opportunity to be more sustainable. That's why my business, SUSTAINER CONTAINER, also aims to make sustainability more accessible and affordable. Each purchase contains eco-friendly products and comes in a beautiful reusable box, perfect as a gift for the eco-warrior in your life.

So next time you are considering buying from a large corporation, consider the environmental impact of your purchase and whether you can get the same items locally, benefiting the environment and the local community. 

Be the change you wish to see in the world

Article by

Maya Vertigans

Maya is the founder of SUSTAINER CONTAINER, a new start up which provides affordable boxes filled with environmentally friendly alternatives to everyday necessities.

Contact the author

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