If you are trying to do your best for the environment, here is another way to tie yourself up in knots. You may have heard of the Buy Local movement. You may see “Buy Local” stickers and signs at some of your favorite independent bookstores and food coops. How far can you take the idea of buying local?
Local food. The local food movement encourages us to buy from local farmers. This has had enough of an impact on the global food industry that market research studies are now available on the impact of the Buy Local movement on the industry. When we act on our desire to support local agriculture through our diets, we have an impact on economy, health, and community. Less fossil fuel is required to bring our food from field to table. Local foods often have less packaging. We eat food sooner after it is harvested. We support the local economy, especially small farmers.
100-Mile Diet. We can make eating local more specific. When two concerned Canadians launched their 1-year experiment with a 100-Mile Diet last year, they got a lot of attention. Others joined in, started their own 100-mile diets, and reprinted the original blog entry like crazy.
Dress local. We can also take the idea even further. Dress local, too. In their “Hunt for an Ethical Wardrobe & The Soul of Cloth,” two other Canadians set out to buy only “locally designed and manufactured” clothing. A blog entry from The Tyee, the same site that hosted the 100-mile diet declaration, tells the story of their 100-mile wardrobe. The Organic Consumers Association has reprinted the original blog entry as well as an Utne Reader article about dressing local.
How can you bring this idea home? Buy local, of course. If you are fortunate, you may find that local businesses have already formed a business network. The day I write this, organizations local to me are featured at Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE): spotlight Salt Lake City and the organizations Vest Pocket Business Coalition and Local First Utah. Look! There are some of my favorite stores, and many of them are SLC e2 businesses (environmentally and economically sustainable, just like I’m an SLC e2 citizen trying to become carbon neutral). BALLE is a network of over 5,000 local businesses in 30 networks. Find a local business network near you.
Your Local Economy. What has this to do with you besides encouraging you to consider the vitality of your own local economy? Well, that is the point. In the Diaper Underground, a lot of people buy diapers that travel a long way before they reach the baby, and materials already travelled a long way before the diapers were manufactured. You can slow the burn of fossil fuel and participate in your local economy if you buy locally manufactured cloth diapers.
2. Check cloth diaper directories and parenting groups to find local cloth diaper manufacturers or retailers within your 100-mile radius. Try a location search at Diaper Pin.
I don’t know if there are enough small cloth diaper manufacturers that this can work, but I would like to know how it goes.
Add Life and Connection to Economy. What is the benefit? Real life is face to face. Deep knowledge is face to face. I have always been happy to deliver local packages personally because I want to meet the families who use Firefly Diapers. I did this when we lived in Buffalo, New York, and I do this now in Utah. When I moved back home to Utah last fall, my very first paying customer from many years ago was among the first to welcome my family and invite us for dinner. Last week, I spent a lovely afternoon at a local park with one of my earliest customers, and I have plans to spend an afternoon next week with one of my most enthusiastic current customers. Two of these women, as a matter of fact, have been long-time collectors of Firefly Quick Dry Color Diapers (and you can see their colorful Firefly Diapers stashes here). Buying local creates more than an economic network. It adds life and connection to the local beyond the experience of consumption.
When I founded Real Diaper Association, I built the philosophy of local communications into the structure of the organization through Real Diaper Circles. People have passed knowledge of cloth diapers face to face through generations. This is the idea behind our new oral history project, Your Grandmother Should Know (more on this later). You can reclaim that local knowledge and your local economy through simple steps.
Support your local diapermaker. Buy local diapers, and create a 100-mile diaper stash.