I am an avid supporter of the ‘Buy Local’ trend.
Now, as with most honourable things to do, you run the risk of receiving the “There she goes again…” eye-roll from friends and family. Much like the environmentalists of yesteryear when somehow we thought that they were looney and the destruction of the environment does not have a direct impact on us. Today we know better and most of us try to act more responsible as a result.
Now, just as preserving the environment makes logical sense to most of us today, my hope is that it will one day be the same for the “Buying Local” trend.
I have taken the liberty to jot down my logic reasoning
If, like most of us, you have come to the realisation that the condition of the earth has a direct impact on our quality of life, then buying local will be your humble contribution to its preservation.
Follow my logic… Less movement of the product across the globe means less carbon emissions. Impact made!
I know that big brands spend big marketing budgets on convincing us that their products are superior, but when last have you compared the ingredient lists of a large international brand versus those of a more local brand?
In my experience, most (not all) local brands still care about the quality they present to you. They understand how dependent they are on your support given their smaller market and bigger competition. This coupled with the fact that the product does not have to travel as far and therefore requires a shorter shelf life, generally leads to fewer preservatives or more organic preservatives and/or the use of better quality raw ingredients.
Manufactured goods are most often quality checked individually after being handmade.
I am in no way saying you won’t get duds but hey, have you never felt ripped off by a large international brand?
As we are aware, the economy is struggling and we are all struggling to make ends meet. It is at this point that people normally use the “Buying local is more expensive” excuse (we’ll talk about that later) for wasting money on cheaper, lower quality imports. However, as with the environmental issue, I think taking the long-term view makes more logical and economic sense.
Making a conscious decision to seek out more locally produced items might cause you some physical discomfort as changing a habit is never easy or particularly fun, but your kids will thank you one day when they live in an entrepreneurial society where putting yourself out there and making things happen for yourself are rewarded amply.
4. Job Creation
This one really is a no-brainer: The more local the product, the more local the job opportunity.
5. Wealth Creation
One of the greatest challenges in South Africa these days is that we are continuously debating on who should get the pieces of the cake. Well, first of all, the cake is too small. We need to make it bigger. Secondly, too many of our cake slices are eaten in fancy boardrooms in countries outside of our own. These challenges only receives attention when we insource our manufacturing creating wealth in our own country.
Side note: I am not hereby saying that we do not need Foreign Direct Investment. We do, but we need it in the form of partnerships, not monopolies.
6. Personal Service
The more local you buy, the more personal the service. You deal with a person, not with a machine or a call centre.
In our impersonal world, it is most refreshing.
I said I will talk about the perception that buying local is expensive. Here are my varied thoughts on the matter (as the reality may differ between product categories):
- Yes, a better quality product (especially with regards to food) can sometimes be more expensive;
- Why are we willing to spend in excess of R 1 000 on an internationally manufactured (read cheap labour) pair of jeans, but somehow think that spending R 600 on a locally manufactured pair is too expensive?;
- Sometimes, in the absence of large logistical bills, large marketing bills, and the premium price of an international brand you will be able to find a product just as good as or even better than international brands at a much lower cost. In order to spot these bargains, you will need to start educating yourself about superior ingredients for your product category though;
- Higher demand generally leads to larger production which leads to economies of scale. This leads to a reduction in production cost and an ethical producer will filter this down to its consumer or at least a slower increase in price.
As a people, we need to start living more mindfully. With each purchase we are making we are saying something, contributing to something, while using our hard-earned money to do so. Spend mindfully.