Buying Local: A Bluedot Environmental Perspective
Date: February 12, 2020
By: Tessa Cieplucha
When you purchase something that travels around the world to get to you, do you know how much pollution is created before it reaches your doorstep? Would you believe me if I said, shipping alone is responsible for over 18% of the air pollutants we breathe every day?
In today’s society and with the convenience of technology, we tend not to think twice about the items we buy online or where they come from. Even though we can’t physically see how a product gets from point A to point B, we feel the direct impacts it has on the environment and our bodies.
Many people don’t realize that environmental pollution, as a result of a single product, starts from when and where it was first made, not just when you throw it out.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimated that in 2018, road freight, like commercial transport trucks, produced over 29% of the world’s total transportation CO2 emissions. In addition to all other shipping methods combined, including aircraft, trains, and shipping vessels, it produced over 10% of the emissions in itself. That total of nearly 40% is equivalent to roughly four tones of CO2 emissions in 2018 alone.
So, when you finally receive that one package, it has likely travelled hundreds if not thousands of kilometres, contributing to the many tones of harmful CO2 generated every year. Now, after reading this, how would you feel if you ended up returning that package across the globe because that single impulse purchase wasn’t exactly what you were hoping for?
In the past 20 years, shipping emissions have increased by over 70%, and right now, there is very little done to reduce it in any significant way. To completely fix this problem, industries would need to change how worldwide shipping is done, and that will take a very long time and effort.
But there is something you can do to reduce your contribution to shipping emissions on a small scale. Buy local! When you buy something from a local vendor, the closer it was produced and sold, the less pollution was created to reach its final destination. It creates virtually no emissions when compared to something that has to come from around the world.
Besides, when you buy local, you don’t have very far to travel to shop for products. A study in 2005 in the Seattle, Washington area, showed that people who drove to get their products produced 26% fewer automobile emissions in a neighbourhood that had local stores compared to one that did not. Automobiles are one of the largest contributors to CO2 emissions, so you can have an incredibly positive impact by shortening the distance you need to drive even slightly.
With that said, every person and every step in the purchase process – getting a product from the manufacturer to the store and then to your door contributes to environmental pollution. If you can actively seek out local sources or alternatives to the products you love and use, then you can make a big difference.
And besides, there are countless other benefits to buying local, like supporting the local economy, getting to know your neighbours more, feeling proud of your purchases, and so many more.
Here is some more information on why you should seek out local options and alternatives! This article is all about shopping locally with direct links to many Canadian-owned businesses you can support!