One easy, fun and satisfying zero waste step is to shop small and local whenever you can. Sure we all buy some items from big companies both in stores and online. We can choose to make some purchases small and local, both in our community and online. If we value diversity, independence and innovation we all collectively need to make sure we vote with our money for some of our purchases.
The easiest and tastiest way to shop small and local is to support farmer's markets. Markets have so much more than veg and fruit. Cheese, breads, flowers, prepared foods, skincare, dog treats, art and handcrafted goods. One of the best things about traveling is to visit the local market for a taste of regional foods. It's easy to BYOB- bring your own bags and containers. Get to know your farmers and makers and they will happily accommodate you with bulk and package free purchases. It's also a great way to feel connect, vendors love to talk about their wares and how to prepare seasonal produce. You're buying fresh healthy foods and supporting communities and family farms.
Another way to support small is to shop Main Street including coffee shops, restaurants, art and craft store as well as speciality shops. Part of what makes towns vibrant is the business community. My tip is to pick a few items you really value and buy them from a local vendor. For me, it's coffee. I love my morning cup, well cups and have a routine that involves grinding beans, boiling water and a slow pour. For a long time I purchased good coffee from a major retailer at a very decent price. The problem? The containers were trash- made from mixed materials that couldn't be recycled. I didn't know what to do with all the containers and ended up with a cupboard of empty coffee canisters. I decided to buy my beans locally and to reuse the brown bags. I've had the same bags for a few years. I pay a bit more for my coffee but it's always delicious and I feel good supporting my local roaster, sipping great coffee and creating zero trash.
Online is another way to support small and local. I heard on the news the other day that FaceBook, Google and Amazon were the three biggest companies in the world. I know everyone loves Amazon's free and fast shipping but it's important to support smaller, more independent companies if we want diversity and innovation in our economy. The support can be very similar to picking an item to purchase from a local shop. it can be anything you enjoy and value. Tea? Skincare? A speciality sauce? Spices? If the company is small feel free to include a message about how you value plastic free shipping and chances are they will do their best to accommodate you.
Many small businesses walk a fine line between staying in business and offering goods at a reasonable price. I'll read a complaining post on social media about how shocked a customer is with the packaging or shipping on a "zero waste" product. Often this item is bought from a big box company at a price that doesn't reflect the actual cost. Folks- the truth is if the price is to good to be true- someone or some place is paying the true cost. Becoming a sustainable shopper means choosing better and buying less crap.
Each step we make, no matter how small makes a difference. Vote with your money, support small, local and sustainable businesses.