Editorial: Shop local to keep climate footprint small

Sourcing locally-made food and gifts will put a dent in your Co2 emissions and keep the local economy moving

Canadians concerned about climate change might want look at their own carbon footprints. And that starts with paying attention to the Christmas gifts they buy.

Shopping smart means shopping local and sourcing out food and gifts that are made here in the Tri-Cities or the Lower Mainland. In some cases, it might be giving an experience instead of a gift that requires wrapping paper, tape and a printed card.

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It could also mean looking further into the ethical, human rights and sustainability practices of corporations with which you do business.

Do they track greenhouse gas emissions and those of their suppliers? Are they reducing waste, limiting the use of fossil fuels and ensuring their workers are paid fairly?

These might seem like complicated questions that take the fun out of Christmas shopping but are useful for those interested in making a difference in their world.

It’s also fun to see where some of the packaged food and goods come from — they are almost always being delivered by ship, truck, air or rail (or a combination of several modes) from somewhere thousands of miles away.

This week, is BC Buy Local Week and the provincial government is recognizing 500,000 small businesses that employ more than a million people and account for 53% of the province’s private-sector employment. B.C. also leads other provinces in gross domestic product (GDP) generated by small businesses, at 34% of overall provincial GDP.

Those are considerable milestones but the average person needs to look more carefully at how they shop.

Can you get to the mall by foot, bike or transit rather than a car or SUV? Have you visited the Port Moody Winter Farmers Market for food and gifts that are produced locally and didn’t take a gasoline or diesel-fuelled-semi truck driving thousands of miles to get to market?

Sure, it’s easy and convenient to shop online, and saves a trip to a store, but consider all the greenhouse gases emitted by delivery companies getting your goods to your door, and the tonnes of cardboard, plastic, and other materials these products are wrapped in.

When you shop online, your money goes out of your community and doesn’t circulate in your local economy.

Even a blend of online and local shopping could help in the battle to fight climate change because every little bit helps.

So rather than pointing fingers at others to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, it might be time to review our own carbon footprint, and that starts with taking a close look at how, when and where we buy.


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