So I’ve talked a lot about buying local and I know I advocate this a lot on Facebook and other social media. So I thought I would compile a few points as to what exactly is so important about buying local. This post will highlight why buying local can be good for YOU (and your bank balance!) as well as the planet.
I tend to think of quality as going hand in hand with local most of the time. Buying high quality products is really important to me: when it comes to ongoing use products (like clothing; furniture etc.) buying quality reduces the amount of waste as well as being cheaper in the long run as quality products last longer.
Cardigan Made in China: $20 each; lasts 20 wears
Cardigan Made in New Zealand: $100 each; lasts 200 wears
In this hypothetical situation, you’d have to pay $200 to get the same number of wears out of the Chinese made cardigan as the New Zealand made one which is only $100 up front. Think of this as an investment.
Of course, that’s not to say that all products made in China are poor quality; nor are all products made in NZ good quality. This is just a pattern I have found purchasing chain store clothing which is typically made overseas as it is cheaper…. and you get what you pay for!
Living in New Zealand, I find that our products are generally produced to a high standard. This is due to a number of reasons, including the fact that New Zealand has stricter labour laws than a lot of the LDCs (Least Developed Countries) where a lot of our products are made quickly and cheaply. Production laws are often stricter as well, which means there are more quality controls in place. This I think is particularly important when you’re looking at food products and what chemicals food is exposed to, and the hygiene of those handling it.
New Zealand brands also tend to be more accountable to their customers. I’ve whittled this down to two main reasons:
New Zealand brands are often promoted as the “pin ups” for our economy by all manner of enterprise and business organisations. They tend to be heavily promoted within the country and have a certain element of “kiwiness” which draws in customers. Their “kiwiness” and marketing tends to draw in a loyal customer base who are more informed about the business’ dealings than we are with international business. As a result, any bad publicity goes around our small community very quickly, and can break a brand.
In addition to being visible, New Zealand brands tend to be much more accessible to their customers. Due to our small population, and hence small market, they often find it advantageous to engage in a variety of forums. Social media is often really important, especially as small start-ups look for organic support from friends, family and other acquaintances to spread news. Being engaged on social media is often a smart choice for small businesses, but the flip side is that they need to be accountable to their customers. Dissatisfied customers can post comments that will be seen by potentially thousands of other customers. Also, businesses are usually easily indexed with contact details, business addresses and so on. So even those who aren’t on social media can contact them easily.
For example, if you bought a NZ made garment that falls apart after a few wears, it’s much easier to go direct to the manufacturer than if bought from an international brand where the manufacturing and product process isn’t so clear and transparent to the customer.
Buying locally made products has a huge effect on your carbon footprint. Local products cost less to transport from manufacture to market, both in dollar terms and in environmental terms. Think about where the majority of your wardrobe comes from and imagine the shipping trips and the oil that has had to go into shipping that item to you. Depending on your product, buying local can also make it cheaper as less has been invested in transport.
For a great tool that is fun for adults and the kids alike, check out the Food Miles Fuel Project to find out how far your product has come. You can even see how far into outer space we would be able to travel on the food miles tracked through their site.
SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES
This is the main reason I find it is really important to buy locally made products. As with all conscious consumerism, we are ultimately voting with our wallets. You have a say in who you support by choosing whose products you buy. Supporting local businesses reaches further than just the success of one business. That business provides jobs for New Zealanders not only within their own four walls but for all the other businesses they come in contact with- from textile creators, to designers, to couriers and packaging companies. This is all about the ripple effect- your actions (and your purchases!) have a ripple effect that goes outwards further than you might imagine- wouldn’t you rather make a ripple for your local community and economy?
Coming up next post: How to Buy Local without Breaking the Bank: Tips for getting bang for your buck