Seven Little Resolutions to Save the World in 2017- #3

by - Thursday, January 05, 2017

Turning the page on a fresh year gives us a brand new opportunity to be a better version of ourselves. That's pretty exciting, and it is the perfect opportunity to start making some eco-friendly changes. It's the kind of thing we all want to do, and even that we might already be doing, but adding a few more changes here and there will only make you take that much better care of the world in 2017.

Becoming eco-friendly seems like a huge, daunting commitment, but you can actually make a huge POSITIVE impact on the world just by making some easy small changes. New Year's Resolutions can be all about changing habits, so why not stick with the junk food and make the world better instead?

small town franklin, pa courthouse buy local

3. Live Locally

Buying local has a very specific reputation. A bearded hipster buying poems and honey out of mason jars maybe? Buying American has specific connotations as well- someone with a hot silhouette on his mudflaps who votes for Trump and hates immigrants.

Both are completely untrue. Buying American and buying local should and can be a totally mainstream way to live life. These simple principles fit all sorts of ideologies and do all kinds of good. They feel like a thing that is nice when it happens, but you really have to be hardcore to go out of your way for.

Want to save the world in 2017? Buy Local. Buy American. Not when it jumps out at you. Not just by accident. But intentionally and often.

Now, why is buying local better for the environment? First and foremost, the further your stuff travels, the more fossil fuels it burns through. Only 10% of what most Americans buy is made in America. That means 90% of your possessions are world travelers. If you buy 100 things, you have supported 90 trips across the globe. That's a lot of fuel.

Secondly, if you invest in companies that are investing in their communities, you are much more likely to keep your money where you live. To take care of the people where you live. Capitalism is designed to alienate us from the labor (and the waste) of our stuff. The more you prioritize the local, the more you actually know and appreciate about how something was made.

If you care about ethics or how other human beings are treated (so hopefully, all Christians at the very least), buying local or American tells companies that you will not support how badly they treat other human beings. We hear again and again how incredibly poor conditions and compensation are for workers who are making our "Made in Elsewhere" clothing or toys or food. These are other human beings, with mothers and families and needs. But they are so far away from us, we just see "Made in China" tag and don't think of the mistreated person behind it.

This isn't ok, and buying this stuff doesn't just hurt other people, it hurts us as well.

I don't even want to tell you how often I have heard someone complain how there are no businesses in their small town or neighborhood, then gone on to tell me they didn't buy from a local business because they could get it cheaper at Walmart.

Yes, it is cheaper at Walmart, but what is the true cost? Selling out local businesses to save a dollar is going to choke out community businesses in the end. You can say somebody should come and help your local economy, but you screw over your own community every time you choose to send your money elsewhere. Over and over again.

There is no "somebody should." If you are saying "somebody should" then you should. If somebody should invest in your local economy in 2017, one of those somebodies can be you. That means letting go of big chains, of places like Walmart, of getting the cheap deal as the first stop. Let those places be last resorts instead of first stops.

If you have to get it new (or it's food), find it local. If you can't find it local, find it American.

This may seem like a pretty big "little" resolution, but trust me. It's doable. If this blog makes one argument with all of its shopping lists and links, it says that most things are still available made in America.

The more investment we feel in our own communities, the better we take care of them. We shouldn't just be buying locally, we should be aware of what's going on locally. What can we be making better locally? Don't like how it is where you are? The good thing is that the more local you are, the bigger a fish you are. So make a positive splash.

Want to change the world this year? Start small. Start local. These are my best little local resolutions. Let's do this.

Give up your Chains- This is a fun resolution. Give up chains for a month, and every time you go out to eat, try a locally-owned restaurant instead. Get on Yelp and try everything in the top 30. Revisit something you know has changed hands.

Explore Local Groceries- Sites like this one give you information on what produce is in season in what locale. You can find cool Etsy seasonal charts as well- Jessica Haas have my favorite ones.  Do the research and find out what is grown near you. Then use it.

Most communities, even the small ones, have local grocers. My hometown of 4,000 has one, and it is awesome. Start your grocery shopping there. What is there and how can you use it? This is a cool way to be inspired, and you can support more local growers.

Best the 10%- The average American buys only 10% American goods. Pick a happier percentage. You can buy American-made for SO MANY THINGS. I have List Over List to help you. Truly, you could pick 100% and still be successful, but even 30% is huge.

Pick 3- Think of the things you buy the absolute most. What 3 things do you always buy at the grocery store? Can you find out exactly where they come from? How about ways to recycle their packaging? By greening (and localizing) your most common purchases, you can maximize your positive impact without spending your whole life reading about this stuff.

Take a Second- Before you hit "buy," read up first. Always read the tags! This blog is all about letting you know other options available, so no one ever has to say "Everything is made in China" again. If you need something from your house, try the wedding registry. For baby stuff, I have a baby registry filled with Made in America and eco-friendly baby goods. The information is out there. Just resolve to check up when you can!

Make a Local Love List- I write a series on 5 local businesses and companies people love where they are at. Can you make that list off the top of your head? Then I have a mission for you! Let 2017 be the year. Resolve to explore all the wonderfulness that is near you.

To Go Bigger- Make One Big Change in Your Little Corner- Annoyed that your city doesn't offer recycling? Organize and do something. Frustrated that your horrible state just outlawed outlawing plastics (I'm looking at you Michigan), time to get some grassroots boycotts going NOW. Knowing what is going on is your basic responsibility as a citizen where you are. Want to up your resolution this year? Change something. Start small and make big waves.

Woo! I am excited about this one. What are you going to buy local this year? Ready for more ideas? Check out #2.

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