Supporting Local: A Beginner’s Journey

August 21, 2020
Lauren Hume
Farmer's Market

When it comes to supporting local, I have recently become aware that my choices can have positive impacts. In my earlier years, I never thought about who my purchases were supporting. I suppose you could say that I was a bit of a thoughtless consumer. It was only when I moved back to Vancouver Island in 2011 that I hopped on the bandwagon of supporting local. I started taking a good look at where my hard-earned dollars were going and who my purchases were supporting. It began with the local farmer’s markets that I enjoyed visiting on weekends, where I bought fresh, seasonal produce from our local farmers. Next, it was the food and wine festivals that featured BC businesses. Local chefs served food from local restaurants, as well as beverages from local wineries and breweries right here on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Before I knew it, I was discovering lovely soaps sold by local artisans and purchasing tickets to smaller-scale concerts featuring local musicians. How did I not know about all this before?

Why is it important to me to support local? I enjoy knowing that my purchases put money back into our local economy. Going to one of BC’s farmer’s markets to buy my produce is better for the environment and more sustainable than buying produce that has been flown in from the other side of the world. It supports the farmer and reduces the carbon footprint of the item I purchase. When I attend events put on by Farm Folk City Folk, I am not only eating local, seasonal and sustainable food, grown here on the Island, but I also get the experience of meeting the local farmers who grow the produce, listening to local artists play their music and connecting socially with like-minded people in my community.

Working in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University has given me a further push in the right direction and I decided to make a more conscious effort in decreasing my impact on the environment. For example, instead of buying plastic wrap for my leftovers, I use reusable wax wrap made by a local company. I also use reusable lunch bags and cloth produce bags to reduce single-use plastic bags and support a small local shop which is a win-win.

During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, I have become aware of the importance of local tourism and have discovered that BC has a lot to offer, which makes not being able to travel outside of BC for vacations easier. Supporting tourism in BC and taking “staycations” on Vancouver Island is more important than ever as many of our local businesses are struggling to stay afloat during this pandemic. Instead of flying off to Europe or the US, as I have in the past, I’m trying to be more conscious of my carbon footprint while increasing my support of the local economy and BC-based businesses. I’ve realized this isn’t exactly a hardship as we live in such a beautiful province and there is so much to explore. This is only the beginning of my quest to discover more ways to support local. I will continue to make the effort to research and learn, as every little step matters on my journey to become a more thoughtful, environmentally-friendly consumer.