Keeping it Local
Why is it important to shop local?
It’s great to support local businesses over big corporations, to see our communities thrive from us spending our money in local shops as opposed to lining CEO’s pockets. But are there environmental benefits too?
The answer is yes!
By purchasing Welsh honey or locally made cosmetics, we take out the air miles and carbon emissions associated with our big name brands - brands that are transported around the world. Okay, great! But why are carbon emissions a bad thing? What effect do they actually have? By carbon, we of course mean carbon dioxide. This is produced when we burn fossil fuels, so by running cars, trucks for transporting goods and of course, aeroplanes. Do you remember the news from around the world during the first COVID-19 lockdown? How the thick smog clouds over populated cities such as Los Angeles had disappeared?
These are two pictures from Milan, Italy - the first one was taken on 8th January, 2020 while the bottom one was taken on 17th April, 2020. When the cars were taken off of the roads in their masses, the polluted air started to clear.
When we shop locally (for example, the Welsh honey stocked in Sero, which is made in Cardiff) we massively reduce the required transport to get that product to us. It travels a little way down the M4 to be on our shelves. In fact by shopping with Sero Zero Waste you are also supporting an array of local family run businesses from Wild Barc, Equal=ibrium, Libi Eco Kind Products, Cole and Co, Shearwater Eco, Natures Little Helpers, Eco Slurps and Bee Better Wraps to local fresh produce from The Green Kitchen, Stow Hill Bakery, Usk Valley Bakery, Astrid Petite Cuisine and Lucy Coco Floristry. Not only are you supporting these local businesses every time you choose to pop to your local shop instead of chain supermarkets but small local businesses like Sero have more flexibility to work with wholesalers who share their ethics. For example Sero Zero Waste not only works with local producers for their sustainable products but also obtains the whole-foods available to us in store from like minded businesses who ensure all food is ethically produced, those categorised as organic have all the correct certifications and everything is GMO free.
Carbon dioxide is pretty bad for our oceans too. It dissolves into the water and raises the acidity level, and having too much of it in our atmosphere raises the temperature of the water as well. This has a really negative impact on coral reefs and seagrasses, which actually do a lot for us! Both help to reduce the power of waves during storms. This ultimately helps to prevent coastal erosion, flooding and loss of property on the shore, and saves us millions of pounds each year in terms of reconstruction.
Coral reefs also act as nurseries for a variety of fish. Did you know that at least 275 million people worldwide rely on coral reefs for food/income from fishing? If sustainably managed, reefs can yield up to 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood per square kilometre each year! Estimates also suggest that coral reefs provide $3.4 billion each year in the US alone. The change in the water causes them to ‘bleach’, like the picture above. They can no longer act as a habitat for fish as they no longer provide camouflage nor food (they bleach by expelling algae, which fish feed on). Without coral, fish populations decline. This causes us problems as humans, in multiple ways as listed above.
Another obvious decision to opt for local over your big chain supermarkets is the sheer volume of plastic packaging produced by these big retailers. In fact in 2019 UK supermarkets produced around 896,853 tonnes of single use plastic packaging! And it’s not just plastic waste being produced, hundreds of thousands tonnes of food is wasted by these big retailers, roughly the equivalent of 250 million meals every year. This waste creates huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions! When you shop at your local zero waste shop you are only paying for what you really need, such as when creating a one-off recipe, and therefore saving money from the set prices in grocery shops.It is estimated that 72 million single serve sachets are placed on the market each year in Wales, along with 2,100 tonnes of black plastic food containers, 500 tonnes of metallised film (such as that used in crisp packets), 237 million coffee cups and 183 million coffee cup lids are consumed annually in Wales. Zero waste shops enable consumers to cut out unnecessary plastic packaging by swapping this for reusable containers. Further to this, as shoppers are able to weigh the exact quantity of produce they need they will not be obliged to buy predetermined portions of food which may result in food waste. This also means consumers will be able to buy in bulk if they wish, resulting in more efficient shopping habits resulting in reduced carbon emissions than having to make repeat trips.
Small sustainable businesses are also more likely to empower their local communities by providing the right support and outreach to those looking to make more sustainable choices. Providing initiatives such as green workshops, repair cafes, clothes swaps and litter pick activities which are only possible with community support and interest in return. Keep an eye out for more
By shopping local, we can massively reduce our own carbon footprint by not supporting big brands who transport our product around the world before getting it to us. Not only that, but our money supports people local to us and benefits our communities. With restrictions beginning to ease and shops opening up, take a minute to think about where you would like your money to go. Shop local!