Buying from local sources and being sustainable go hand in hand. When you are supporting a local business you are not only promoting workers’ rights but you are helping to protect the environment, consuming less pesticides, and saving family farms. If you care about your health, the community, and the environment, then starting to buy local is one of the best ways to promote sustainability in Columbus.
Buy Local to Promote Workers’ Rights
Workers on larger factory and industrial farms are typically forced to breathe in harmful gases such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide. Workers on corporate farms are often undocumented immigrants who fear deportation, therefore they cannot stand up for themselves and demand fair wages and safe working conditions.
On the local end of the spectrum, the situation looks very different. Employees who work on sustainable farms are, more often than not, paid a fair wage and work in a safe environment. Unfortunately, while these are good jobs, they are now few and far between—thanks in large part to our society’s growing reliance on factory farms. The average age of the American farmer is over 50 and there are fewer family farms today than ever before.
This means that when you buy locally produced materials and food, you are empowering workers and creating a fairer workplace for farmers in our community. Buying locally grown agriculture and sustainably made materials also keeps our local farmers in business while helping to fight back against the factory farm takeover.
Buy Local to be Environmentally Friendly
Locally-made products are more environmentally friendly than products produced on a national scale because manufacturers don’t have to produce such large quantities and have them shipped long distances. Take the food industry as an example. Large animal factory farms generate enormous amounts of gasses and biological waste, which can lead to pollution and other adverse environmental effects.
Further, industrially grown crops are dependent on chemical fertilizers to grow faster. These chemicals seep into the soil and stay there for years to come. Even after the farm is done producing crops, the chemicals will remain behind in the soil, harming future plants that grow in the same spot. Runoff from our industrial farms also pollutes our water, often creating toxic “algae blooms” in our lakes that prohibit recreational use. Expensive treatments, difficult for our cities to afford, are required to neutralize the chemicals.
Less than 5% of food grown in Ohio is eaten locally as whole foods.
According to Chuck Lynd of Think Columbus First (an organization that supports Columbus’s local businesses): most of our corn, soybean, and wheat crops are grown to feed animals, convert into ethanol for bio fuels, or used to process food.
If you want to support sustainability efforts, then it is in your best interest to support local farms. Organic farms offer an alternative that solves the pollution problems, while the agricultural practices these farms employ can replenish nutrients in the soil. As Chuck points out, new research demonstrates that healthy soil functions as a “carbon sink” that helps reduce global warming by storing greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane) underground.
Buy Local to Promote Healthy Eating
Because industrial farms must quickly produce huge quantities of crops, they use pesticides and toxins to grow their crops at a faster rate and in larger quantities. The toxins and pesticides used in industrially raised crops have been linked to infertility, various types of cancer, and birth defects. Foods from industrial farms also carries a higher risk of contamination due to the long distances they must be shipped, the many possibilities for insufficient refrigeration during the trip, and the many people who will handle them before you purchase them.
By supporting sustainable and local farms you are also promoting farming techniques that produce less toxic foods. Local farmers use less toxins and pesticides because they have enough time to allow their crops to grow at their natural rate. Because they are handled less and sold within a relatively short distance of the farm itself, they are also safer from contamination.
Buy Local to Save Family Farms
When you buy from small, local farms you are supporting a true American tradition. Small family farms are declining at an alarming rate because they must compete with industrial farms that receive subsidies to ensure their success. Large corporations buy these crops to feed animals in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), sell to processed food manufacturers, and convert to biofuels. Family farms must expand to meet these global market demands in order to survive. If we stop buying from local farmers altogether and start buying exclusively from supermarkets, we will have to rely on industrially grown agriculture, with its many downsides, for all of our food.
If you truly care about the sustainability of our country, and the livelihoods of your neighbors, you should do your best to support our small, local family farms. Buy local at farmers’ markets and roadside farm stands, and seek out locally grown produce every time you head to the grocery store.
Think Columbus First
Did you know that just a 10% shift from shopping at chain stores to shopping at locally owned stores would keep $312 million in Franklin County?
That’s enough money to create 5000 new, well paying jobs!
When you buy local, it keeps more of our dollars circulating in the local economy. When we buy from the chain stores, more of our money “leaks out” of the local community to out of state suppliers and investors. Just imagine, when you “buy local” you are really a job creator!
If you live in the greater Columbus area, Think Columbus First is a great resource for how to support local businesses in our city, and in turn, foster greater sustainability. Check them out to find the best local alternatives to national chains in just about any category imaginable.
Curious about why a dumpster company would be talking about sustainability? Here at Budget Dumpster we are committed to supporting the communities we do business in and the environment in which we live. If you need to rent a dumpster in Columbus please give us a call at (866) 284-6164. Likewise, if you’re planning a community clean-up project in the greater Columbus area we may be able to donate a dumpster to your project. Fill out our dumpster donation form here.