I like beer, perhaps not as much as our most recently appointed Supreme Court Justice, but still, a nice cold beer is delicious and goes with so many foods. Did you see the Budweiser ad during the Super Bowl? It featured, perhaps my favorite songwriter, Bob Dylan, singing Blowin’ in the Wind. A classic! Listening to those lyrics sends shivers through my body and makes me think about things a lot bigger than me. It was a great choice for Budweiser because part of the message is promoting wind power. And they are putting their money where their mouth is by informing us that “Budweiser is now brewed with 100% renewable electricity from wind power.” Makes me want to pop open a Bud and listen to some more Dylan. And it also says that if I choose to buy Budweiser (instead of another beer), in theory, I’m driving more demand for a product that is more environmentally friendly than a brewery that doesn’t use renewable energy.
So what does this have to do with “Local Sourcing”? Well, the companies I choose to do business with do impact the amount of energy consumed – a lot – and more than just the Budweiser example. Consider the cost of transportation. Buying a product made near my home reduces the amount of transportation costs when compared with a product made overseas. Big deal? Yes! A quick scan of any of the numerous articles on “Environmental Impact of Transport” quickly illustrates that transport is a major user of petroleum and contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions. So what can I do? Whenever possible, I can buy products that are produced locally or near-by as compared to products that are produced farther away, say overseas.
Back to beer, Budweiser might be brewed nearby and therefore have lower transport costs than an import. But also consider the number of new craft beers that are produced locally. Their transport costs for me are lower than something coming from across the country. And there are a lot of new craft beers opening all the time.
Local sourcing can impact just about everything we buy – clothing, appliances, furniture, cars, food – and we make choices about all of these things routinely. My plan is to become much more knowledgeable about where things come from and therefore, make informed choices.
Now there may be many products that just aren’t made locally. Toys might be a good example. A while back my wife and I were shopping at Toys-R-Us (before they went bankrupt). Actually she was shopping and I was with her and I couldn’t help but notice everything seemed to be made in China. So I started looking for something that wasn’t. I found a couple of things made in other foreign countries but nothing from the U.S.A. I’ll admit this wasn’t a complete and scientific study, but for me it was eye opening. So what can I do? Google “toys made in the USA” and you’ll be surprised at how many things are actually available. Same with clothing, appliances, furniture, cars, etc. So local sourcing is possible, but it requires being a better consumer and doing a little research.
Another great example is shopping at farmer’s markets or a market focusing on locally sourced products. While there may be some exceptions, most of the food sold at these markets is very locally produced. Often you can converse with the individuals responsible for growing the products and gain insights regarding their farming practices. And in addition to reducing transport costs, you’re also doing business within your community.
Bottom line: I plan to pay attention to where something comes from before buying it; it makes a difference to the world.