Shopping local and GREEN can be easy

Spring has finally sprung and if you are like most of your neighbors in Toronto-Danforth you have arisen from hibernation and are back out riding bikes, walking and gardening in force.

Local is good for you!

Much of that walking and biking will be to shop at local merchants. There are many reasons why shopping locally makes sense now more than ever.

  • encourages a sense of neighbourhood, where you meet your neighbours on the street and connect on a real level with those who live nearby
  • supports local businesses so that the main street thrives and is alive with activity, increasing safety for everyone
  • reduces car usage, which reduces gas usage and helps keep our local air cleaner
  • many local businesses purchase their products locally as well, which further reduces our collective carbon footprint
  • walking and biking is a great way to burn off those extra winter pounds!

Penny wise, pound foolish

Conversely, many people shop at discount malls because they feel they can’t afford not to – the prices are so much cheaper. But are they? While the sticker price may be less, there is an old Scottish adage I grew up with that states, “penny wise, pound foolish”. If you calculate how much it cost to own your car you might be surprised. After loan payments, insurance, maintenance and gas, that trip to the mall to save $1.00 on toilet paper doesn’t make much sense.


What if you like the selection better at the mall? Talk to your local merchants. If they don’t stock the items you need, they often will start stocking them if you ask.

Full cost of production

Last week I was shopping, and there were Ontario, US and Mexican tomatoes for sale at the same price. But were they really the same price? Did they include the cost of the air pollution from the planes, which brought the tomatoes here? Until markets start to include the full cost of production which reflects economic, environmental, health, and social costs into each product’s selling price, we are going to have to do that calculation ourselves when we make each and every purchasing decision. And when the store is charging the same amount for local vs. non-local products, the decision is easy.

Shop in season

Try produce in season and you will find it tastes 10× better. Quite frequently you will find in season organic produce costs no more than “regular” produce. Also as organic is becoming mainstream the price difference is dropping.

You get what you pay for

What about larger price differences then? Well another Scottish adage usually applies “you get what you pay for”. If you buy cheap furniture made in China you might not be saving money at all. Good quality furniture can last generations while cheaper products rarely last 5 years. The savings are short term and artificial. Our society is addicted to buying cheap disposable products. We can all buy smarter and better.

You will feel good for it, and maybe even save money over the medium or long.

Leave a comment

To weed out spam, your comment will not appear right away.