Every time I travel, I’m continually reminded of how beautiful this country is we get to live in and share: the local support, connection and mate-ship we sometimes so easily and unknowingly take for granted when we choose not to focus our attention locally.
TLDR; I love Australia.
Along with our zero waste goal (long term goal, but goal nonetheless), Tide Productions are always looking for the most innovative and sustainable ways to be an economical and environmental benefit to our surroundings. We’re talking superfood kale-and-pomegranate-salad level equivalent for the environment. Simple as it may (or may not) seem, there is one step you can make, too: choosing your local <s>superheroes</s> businesses who are actively investing in a better future.
But let’s be honest: going local often takes sacrifice.
The unfortunate fact is that sometimes, yes- it can be cheaper, more convenient and more serving to order bulk items from overseas… (because why buy one really great product when you can buy ten crappy versions? …so. many. reasons.) But above everything, I think all of us can agree that our current way of life is just not sustainable: our planet cannot keep supplying this current demand. We honestly need to change. How uncomfortable.
For starters, perhaps your local chain store has an independent owner who is giving back to the community and making mindful choices- fantastic! Just because a business has a large profit does not mean you have to shut them out of your life! Living locally doesn’t necessarily mean shopping at that tiny corner store for your weekly grocery run: it just means ensuring the areas you invest your finances in are actually spending time and money of their own in making a more sustainable future: and for the large majority of us, that begins within our own community.
So, whether you’ve heard it before or not, let me try and convince you to stop and think about your next investment- whether it’s your groceries, your hairdresser, or your toilet paper!
If you live in a coastal town like the Sunshine Coast, you’ll be well aware of the strength of the culture and community that is already encompassed by the local restaurants, newsagents, grocery stores and that adorable dog by your favourite cafe every Saturday morning. Not only does your support towards local businesses enhance this but it also ensures a greater connection among locals (something that has such a massive effect on mental health but so easily forgotten when we’re distracted on insta!). Let’s also not forget that local business owners have a powerful voice within the community! Through working with and partnering with our local businesses, I’ve also learnt that they have a much stronger ‘local care’ – connecting the community faster AND -although they don’t have total control over where their taxes go in the long run- a much higher percentage goes towards community establishments (think: road fixtures, school systems, parks, sidewalks, etc) which helps create a stronger and safer community that you can trust. That goes a long way in and of itself.
Many times, local business owners will put much more thought into how their profit can benefit the community -think: local Little Leagues, homeless shelters, charity events… though maybe not all of your local businesses are doing this- find the ones that are! Supporting local causes and helping strengthen social and economic relationships is a big deal and something worth making the shift for.
Through this, small business owners can form stronger relationships and assist in each others experience and expertise: like guest lecturing at Colleges and Schools (shout out to Griffith University!), or opening opportunities to share services between businesses or within the community (like Nasir Sobhani, the barber who uses his free time to give the homeless of Melbourne free cuts and styles!), which brings unparalleled* growth and innovation back into the community.
Okay so not every local choice we make will be physically beneficial (unless it means you can start walking to your new favourite go-to’s instead of driving; win!) but usually many local restaurants, cafes and grocery stores will use farm fresh, sustainably sourced food products and have much more care and focus on the quality of the food and care in which it came!
From as little as feeling like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself and being able to give back to the community (regardless of the free time you may or may not have to bake cookies for the local playgroup every week…), finding services and businesses that are making a local impact can be a world of difference for your personal ownership of the sustainable future: it may seem a small and invisible step, but don’t underestimate that! (please… we need you…!!) Local businesses are often able to be innovative and beneficial in ways that larger corporations just don’t have the freedom for.
But- like most things in life, we need to start small. You may not need to turn away from your favourite grocery store just yet (that satisfying feeling of knowing where everything is is so real, I know… or if you’ve had the same hairdresser for 25 years maybe don’t desert them!) But what changes can you make today that will help strengthen your community? Or perhaps what suggestions can you give your favourite go-to’s to help them be more sustainable and charitable?
So if you’re anything like me; if you naturally get excited when a local business thrives, and are equally saddened if it closes down (regardless if you’ve ever been there before…), community is a large part of our DNA and something we can easily ignore: but with the lack of sustainability our future is forecasting, this is just one small step in a great and necessary direction!
*just a guess.