Shop Small. Buy Local. Do Good.

A few weeks ago I visited Linvilla Orchards, a kind of wonderland in the world of farm markets.  In addition to fresh, homegrown produce, fresh baked goods and locally produced products, they have an array of family activities that keep the children happy while visiting the farm.  My girls loved the train ride, petting zoo and playground and were totally tuckered out by the time we left.  While buying our goodies on our way out, my eyes were drawn to the Buy Fresh, Buy Local signage that was hanging all around the market.

BuyFreshBuyLocal

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Buy Local movement lately and this was just the push I needed to look into it further.  You see, though I have heard a variety of campaigns that push consumers to Buy Local, I never really paid attention to the reasons behind the campaigns.  Instinctively, it just seems “right” to buy from small, local businesses, but how do these campaigns compel you to do so?

The Buy Fresh Buy Local program’s goal is to make it easier for consumers to find, choose, and appreciate great local foods while supporting the farmers and lands that produce them.  If a store, restaurant or market features a Buy Fresh Buy Local® sign or label, the consumer can be certain that the business has committed to feature local foods and support local producers.  This is one of many programs across the nation that encourage consumers to purchase locally grown and produced foods.  Consumers who patronize local farm markets or restaurants that utilize local foods are directly supporting the local agriculture community.  Further, consumers who buy local produce are reducing their carbon footprint because locally grown fruits and vegetables require far less transportation than those shipped in from great distances.  So, get out there and buy some local produce.   I prefer farm markets or CSAs, but you can also shop the “Buy Local” section of your grocery store and support the movement too.

Shop Small

Shop Small (Photo credit: afagen)

The Buy Local movement stretches well beyond agriculture though and encompasses small business in general.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Small Business Saturday. Conceived by American Express in 2010, it is a “shopping holiday” on the equivalent of Black Friday for big box retailers and Cyber Monday for e-commerce retailers.   Small Business Saturday’s purpose is to drive consumers to local business in an effort to help stimulate the local economy.  Small Business Saturday has morphed into a Shop Small movement that encourages local shopping all year round (though I am sure there will still be a push for that Saturday after Thanksgiving.)   This makes sense.  After all, these businesses need to pay their employees and keep the lights on throughout the year, not just during the shopping season.

Still, I wanted some cold hard facts about why this is an important movement to get behind.  Here is what I found on ELocal.

– Throughout the United States, only about 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, which is very low compared to the 64.8% return from local businesses. (2009)

– A study in Austin, Texas found that $100 spent at a local bookstore produced $45 worth of local economic activity, and $100 at the chain store Borders brought back only $13.

– National chains often bring loss of employment. The opening of a Wal-Mart reduces retail employment by an average of 150 jobs in the county of its location.

– If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy.

These numbers are pretty compelling.  Small businesses create local jobs.  Small businesses return more money to the local economy than larger chain retailers.  Small businesses are more likely to be active members of the community, supporting local causes and participating in local events.  And, in patronizing small businesses, you are supporting your neighbors who work there or the family that owns it.  Shop Small.  Buy Local. Do Good.   Now that is a campaign I can get behind.

How does small business fit into your life?  Do you work for one?  Shop at one?  Tell me about it!

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Pick Up a Ghabit

Light switch in the bathroom

Light switch in the bathroom (Photo credit: anotherpioneer)

Pick Up a Ghabit: Ghabit is short for Green Habit and is the creation of Milesh Jain, aka Dr. Ghabit. I love this concept of empowering children to be active participants in preserving the environment. By simply establishing a habit of turning out the lights upon leaving a room or walking to and from school, your children can be proud that they’ve reduced their carbon footprint and are actively helping the environment. So, get your family together and pick up a Ghabit. Carry a bag on your walks to collect litter, turn off the lights, use less water, walk more and drive less, the possibilities are endless and Mother Earth will thank you.

via Do-Gooder Kids Activities.

Don’t Worry Honey, That is Just the Sky Farting

Thunder

Thunder (Photo credit: mhaller1979)

 

Let’s file this one under things I never thought I’d say.  We had thunderstorms today and there were some wicked booms of thunder that caused my girls to cry and cower in fear.  So, I did what any mom would do and tried to soothe their fears.  I could have gone into the scientific explanation that lightening causes vibrations in the air and a rapid heating and expansion of air particles that causes a loud rumble of thunder. But, given that my four year old loves “poop humor” these days, I thought it was a surer bet to say, “Don’t worry honey, thunder is just the sky farting.”  Guess what, it worked.  The rest of the afternoon, they giggled when it thundered.  Sure, their future science teachers are going to have their work cut out for them, but we’ll worry about that in a few years.

What’s the wackiest thing you’ve ever said or done to comfort your child?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do-Gooder Company: DoGoodBuyUs

photo4_large

I just came across a really interesting online store called DoGoodBuyUs and wanted to share my discovery with you! It is a marketplace for charity-made products and, according to its website, 50% of the proceeds from each purchase are fighting poverty, hunger, disease, environmental degradation and other ills plaguing the world.   With a wide array of products, including coffee, tea, jewelry, clothes, soaps and so much more, this is the perfect place to buy a gift for the next big event in your life!

Mother Earth is our Chores for Charity Beneficiary in May!

brain

brain (Photo credit: natalia love)

It’s May 9th and we have not even talked about this month’s Chores For Charity Beneficiary.  And that’s mainly because Josie and I have only talked very briefly about it.   We’ve been doing chores for the unnamed green charity.  In Josie’s words, “you know, mom, we should help the earth, like vacuum up all the trash and stuff. Hey! I have an idea.  Let’s take the Dustbuster on a walk [like we can put it on a leash like a dog] and we can vacuum up the trash.”   And then the conversation turns to her “rainbow brain,” her words not mine, and I begin to wonder what life in the Technicolor mind of Josie must be like.  Of course, this leads me to believe that my brain is utterly boring with all its gray matter and white matter.

English: The Nature Conservancy logo

English: The Nature Conservancy logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All that aside, we did decide to choose a conservation type charity and I confess that this is not an area of expertise for me, so I selected a big name charity for this month:  The Nature Conservancy.  Their mission is simply stated, but complex in practice:  To conserve the lands and water on which all life depends.   They are making a conservation impact in all 50 states and 35 countries around the world.   The Nature Conservancy is in the business of protecting habitats, from Rainforests to Coral Reefs to the Rivers and Lakes in which my kids discover frogs and toads.  I like this.  Every child should have the chance to let the mud squish between their toes as they walk along the banks of a lake or river in search of their next adventure.

Photo Credit: Flickr - (Hoyasmeg)

Photo Credit: Flickr – (Hoyasmeg)

Given my background in urban education, I LOVE that they have a conservation education initiative, complete with paid internships, in partnership with environmental high schools in urban centers in 9 states.  This program, called LEAP, opens doors for students who reside in cities with very few natural elements to become leaders in the nature conservancy movement.  Straight-up awesome!

Boardwalk on the Wolf River in the William B. ...

Boardwalk on the Wolf River in the William B. Clark, Sr., Nature Preserve (Nature Conservancy of Tennessee) in Rossville, Fayette County, Tennessee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So folks, as you saunter through the month of May, remember Josie’s commitment to “vacuuming up all the trash on Earth” and do your part to protect Mother Earth.  Put your trash in a trash can, recycle and, if you have some dollars to spare, support The Nature Conservancy.

 

What are your favorite environmental conservation charities?  I’m going to use this month to learn more about this topic and could use all the help I can get!

Random Acts of Kindness Weekly Challenge

Red computer mouse

Red computer mouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This idea is #581 on The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website’s list of Kindness Ideas. I’d actually never heard of it until tonight and thought it was an interesting and easy Act of Kindness.

Challenge: Click For a Cause

The concept is pretty simple.  You go to a website like, Care 2, and simply click on a button and the website’s sponsors will donate a certain unspecified dollar amount to the designated charity up to a certain goal.   This act of kindness is free to you but can generate significant funds for a non-profit.   All it takes is two minutes of your time once per day.