Resolutions to Save the World in 2019: Spend More of your Money (and your Time) Locally

by - Thursday, December 27, 2018

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, especially after we have faced truly terrifying Climate Change news and ecological disasters this year. 

Becoming eco-friendly seems like a daunting commitment, but you can actually make a huge POSITIVE impact on the world just by making some easy small changes. If we all resole to make a few SUSTAINABLE changes this year, 2019 could be a turning point for our world. New Year's Resolutions can be all about changing habits, so why not stick with the junk food and make the world better instead?

Love the Earth you're in

Saving the Earth starts in your own backyard.

We tend to think globally, and that's great, we need some of that thinking too, but you can start by solving the problems that you see most clearly. You can help the businesses that employ your friends. You can help the Earth by cutting down on foolishness right we are.

The first step in this is learning to shop locally, and when you can't shopping American (if you live in America- if not, choose your own country or continent). 

This isn't about xenophobia, hipster cool, or nationalism; it's about the simple fact that the further an object or person travels, the more fossil fuels it/they use. An imported object may cost less, but it comes with all sorts of baggage we have been trained not to see. Something shipped from China wastes so many resources, takes money (and jobs) away from local manufacturers and makers, AND was most likely made in poverty, meaning that the person who made your cheap pens (or baskets or clothes or ANYTHING) was mistreated.

Buying American (if you live in America) 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. It isn't as hard or off the path as you think, you just have to pay attention in a new way.

Want to save the world in 2019? Buy Local. Buy American. Not when it jumps out at you. Not just by accident. But intentionally and often. This can be shopping at local stores, eating at local restaurants, buying from companies that manufacture nearby, or investing in local farming and produce. It might mean taking fewer flights and vacationing closer to where you live. It can be going to the locally-owned coffee place instead of Starbucks. It can be shopping on Etsy instead of Target. It can be so many things, but they are all good for your life

And this is just the start. Every community in the world could be working collectively to minimize their environmental impact, and you can be a part of that. Read on to hear my ideas of how.

How Local Living is Good for You

Living in healthy communities is incredibly important for our health and state of mind. W. H. Auden called it topophilia- love of the place you live in. In this globalized world, we can see places as interchangeable, but your life will be happier if you love and take care of the place where you are. It's such a simple concept, but how much do we put it into action? The wellbeing of your community directly contributes to your own happiness. You can read a great article here about how our cities, communities, and environments directly contributes to our happiness.

Ok, easy enough. Investing in our communities is investing in our own happiness. But what does investing look like? First, we need to get involved and invest our time. Second, we need to stop sending our money away and fiscally invest in our communities.

No one can solve your community's problems like you can, because no one outside of your community can understand those problems like its residents do. 

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. I am from a place where business after business has left, and I understand the fear and frustration of living in a community that is dying. But no amount of "Make America Great Again" can help you if you are sending every dollar you make off to some billionaire instead of investing where you live.

Yes, it is cheaper at Walmart, but what is the true cost? When you send your money away to the Waltons, it is NEVER coming back to your community. Ever.

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. 

There is no "somebody should." If you are saying "somebody should" then you should. If somebody should invest in your local economy in 2018, one of those somebodies can be you. That means letting those big chains be last resorts instead of first stops. Enjoy the uniqueness of where you live. Invest that time making things better, but think about how to keep your money where you live (and not in the Walton fleet of yachts or something).

If you have to get it new (or it's food), find it local. If you can't find it local, find it American. If you can't find it American, get it used. It will make you feel happier about what you buy if you are using your money to contribute to the well-being of where you live and support your community members.

So buying local and taking care of your community benefits you, because you are adding to the general greatness of the place you live. And doesn't everyone want to live in a great place?

How Living Locally is Great for the Environment

Now, why is buying local better for the environment? First and foremost, the further you and 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 fossil fuel! Maybe someday greener shipping will exist. Until then, it's our job to stop shipping things all over the place.

Secondly, if you invest in companies that are investing in their communities, you are much more likely to be thoughtful about your purchases.  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. You stop buying disposable junk when you know the hands that made your stuff.

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. This is more important than we can comprehend, because this weight pulls on our Earth and our psyches.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. In fact, we kind of know this is true, but choose to ignore that. It's a sin.

So, shopping local makes your community healthier, your life happier, and it cuts down on your fossil fuel usage and overall waste. 

Is it harder to do than just the easiest and fastest trip to the big chain stores? Yes, definitely harder. But it is worth it.

Want more ideas for resolutions that will take care of the Earth and make your life better? Check out our whole list of resolutions here

How to Do It

Buying local is anything but mainstream, and it 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. No really! It's true!

The good thing is that the more local you are, the bigger a fish you are. So even small efforts can make a big positive splash. I will break it down into some fun and small resolutions that you can actually keep!  Let's do this.

Eat Locally

1. Cook with Local and Seasonal Ingredients Whenever Possible- You can plan your weekly menu around what is in season where you live and what you can get from farmers in your region.  A tomato in summer creates an eighth of the CO2 emissions as one you buy out of season. And our ood, on average, travels thousands of miles from farms to processing to your table. So shrinking that distance can help a lot. Sites like this one give you information on what produce is in season where you live.

2. Give Up your Chains- If you are going to eat out, pick a restaurant that is owned locally, instead of a big chain. Check yelp for what is amazing, and resolve to go to the top 30 locally-owned restaurants. You could also pick one chain restaurant exception to the rule.

3. Explore your Local Grocery Store or CSA Box- Most communities, even the small ones, have local grocers. My hometown of 4,000 has one, and now they have a local butcher and zero-waste shop as well! Start your grocery shopping at your locally-owned spots What is there and how can you use it?

To make it easy, check whether there are CSA or co-op boxes you could subscribe. It turns out to be a pretty fun challenge.

Shop Locally 

1. Do Better than 10%- The average American buys only 10% American goods. Pick a happier, higher percentage. You can buy American-made for SO MANY THINGS. I have List Over List to help you.

2. Pick Three Things- Pick three things, food or otherwise, that you buy the most. Figure out how to buy a greener, more local version. By greening (and localizing) your most common purchases, you can maximize your positive impact without spending your whole life reading about this stuff (though we think that is oodles of fun around here).

3. Do your Research- Before you buy something, do your research. This is really a resolution to quit impulse buys, which feel innocent enough, but come at a high environmental and ethical cost. This blog is all about letting you know other options available, so no one ever has to say "Everything is made in China" again. Seriously, NOT TRUE.

Resolve to always try to find a better option before you buy. Keep a list on your phone of things you want to buy and search them on here. I promise you, you will be surprised.

4. Celebrate your Favorite Local Spots- What are your favorite restaurants in your town? Can you make that list off the top of your head? Then I have a mission for you! Let 2019 be the year. Resolve to explore all the wonderfulness that is near you, and get loud about your favorites.

5.  Embrace your Local Thrift Shop- Your thrift shop is local stuff sorted and schlepped by local people. Your money stays in your community, and it doesn't get sent off to anybody. It also is way cheaper, so while buying American-made is generally more expensive (because they pay people), you can balance it out by thrifting too.

Help Locally

1. Start a Buy Nothing Group-  If you live in a city, joining a Buy Nothing group is one of the best ways to connect with your neighbors, save money, and share with them. If you live in a small town, it is a great way to support each other and save money. If your neighborhood or town doesn't have a Buy Nothing Group, one of the greatest things you could do in 2018 is get one started. If you want to learn more about the Buy Nothing Project (and see whether you have one), check here.

2. Organize and Make a Change- There are still some communities out there that don't realize their natural environment is their greatest asset. And by some, I mean all them. 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 make a big impact with your resolution this year? Change something. Start small and make big waves.

3. Clean Things Up- No matter where you live, your land and your waterways are fighting a battle with waste, especially plastic. Check if there are already groups taking care of the environment or cleaning where you live! If there isn't a group working on this already, it could be the perfect way for you to help make a change- start one! Do a clean up day once a month.

4. Start Planting- Another great way to do good right where you are is to grow things! Start a group that focuses on planting more native plants to your area. The greener your neighborhood, the better for morale, for property values, and even for fighting the summer heat! Go plant things. Get a bunch of friends and go plant things. Start a community garden. You don't have to make a lot of fuss on this one to do a lot of good.

live and shop locally - saving the earth starts in your own backyard

Woo! I am excited about this one. What are you going to buy local this year? Want more ideas for resolutions that will take care of the Earth and make your life better? Check out our whole list of resolutions here

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  1. These are great resolutions to make the world a better place and also to build stronger communities. We try to support local as much as we can.

  2. I'd love to do more local shopping! We already do some thrift and the farm market, but I should visit more local shops.

  3. I love shopping locally as much as possible. This Christmas the majority of our gifts came from local Crafters. It felt good knowing that my money was staying in the community and helping real people.

  4. This post is an eye opener. As we are starting the new year, this will help me have a better and more productive year.

  5. I love to shop locally and support the people in my community. I think your sentiment in this post is a great one.



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