Where we decide to do our Christmas shopping will have an impact on our economy, our community, our environment and even how we feel.
By purchasing from ethical businesses, we can satisfy our shopping needs, with the assurance that the people who made what we buy were treated fairly and that any negative environmental impact has been kept to a minimum. Furthermore, we will have the positive feeling of helping to make a positive difference, which should make us happier than we would be from just grabbing a quick bargain.
Here are three good reasons to shop locally this Christmas:
1. Your spending will boost the local economy and safeguard jobs
Research on spending by local authorities shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stays in the local economy, compared with 40p spent with a larger business. Independent businesses employ more people directly per pound of revenue. They are also more likely to give trade to other local businesses, whether wholesalers, farmers, food-producers, builders, accountants or lawyers.
2. You are more likely to find quirky or unique gifts
Independent retailers often stock items which are made locally and aren’t available elsewhere. Depending on the kind of shop, they tend to support local artists and designers, or food producers and growers in the area nearby. Independent shopkeepers know their customers and their suppliers much better than chainstores ever could, so they are able to offer or recommend goods ideal for your particular taste and requirements.
3. You can create a healthier environment
Independent, community-serving businesses are people-sized. They typically consume less land, carry more locally-made products, are located closer to their customers and cause less road traffic and air pollution. Food bought this way is more likely to benefit local farmers be healthier to eat and come wrapped in less packaging.
In Alston, we are very fortunate to have a wide range of small, independent shops, offering high-quality and distinctive goods. The positive alternative to chainstores and faceless corporations is right here on our doorsteps. In the coming weeks, when it matters most, let’s visit our neighbours for our shopping needs.
Madeleine Parkyn, a member of Alston Wholefoods Workers’ Co-op