With 90 per cent of Australian consumers saying they prefer to buy local, there’s clearly a trend, yet often the cheaper price tags of overseas products can get in the way of our good intentions. It’s important to understand why it matters and remind ourselves of the impact we can have by keeping it “in the village”.
So, why buy local?
Buying local obviously helps keep the money in the country, but why is that a good thing? To start with, small local businesses are Australia’s largest employer, so supporting them creates more jobs. It also helps to stabilise taxes.
When we buy products from overseas or even interstate, always keep in mind the carbon footprint of getting them to you. An interesting stat that CERES uncovered in their ‘Food miles in Australia report’ is that an average shopping basket of 29 common food items has travelled over 70,000 kms. That’s a lot of miles!
Buying local also means less packaging and less landfill. If we look at our agricultural and horticultural industries specifically, Australian farmers use less fertilisers than most other countries so local produce is likely to have fewer chemicals. If you want to go completely chemical free and buy organic, it’s also a lot easier to do so if you’re buying local.
Even though it can sometimes be more expensive to buy from local businesses, try to remember that cheaper is rarely better. The quality of the product, service and your experience is likely to be more premium when buying local. Buying direct from a local maker means you’re also more likely to get something unique and bespoke rather than a one size fits all product that has been mass-produced.
When buying fresh produce, less time from paddock to plate means fresher and longer lasting products. For example, if you buy local flowers they will last for weeks rather than wilting in a couple of days, offering more bang for your buck.
A not so obvious consideration when it comes to buying fresh produce is that buying local is better for your health. Anything that has travelled in transit or been cold stored for a long time affects not only the taste but also the nutritional value.
There are many benefits to buying local, so how can you make a greater effort to support local business? You may have to dig deeper than a quick Google search!
Unfortunately, many small businesses can’t afford to be competitive when it comes to promoting themselves on Google, which makes them tricky to find online. For example, there are several large online flower retailers who purchase popular keywords and domain names to pose as local florists, making it too expensive for real local florists to have a presence. A good way to find out about boutique local businesses is to ask for recommendations, read local publications and blogs or head to the markets. Another helpful way is to use marketplaces that showcase local businesses like Flowerfox does for florists or Your Grocer does for local, independent grocers.
Leah Pooley, Founder, Flowerfox