Why You Should Buy Local

By on August 30, 2017

By Carson Zi. Now that our lives have become infused with the infinite information that is provided to us by smartphones, social media and Mother Google, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the fact that the divide between the rich and poor is widening at a rapid pace.

Nearly everywhere we look it’s increasingly obvious. Families, who were financially comfortable even just a few years ago, are now struggling to make ends meet. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the rate of poverty in Canada is among the highest in the world’s wealthiest industrialized nations.

The Canadian government tries to make it harder to put proper context to this data by refusing to define the poverty line, but for many of us, just looking at our personal budgets month after month makes it obvious that things are tight. Really tight. And getting tighter.

The OECD placed Canada 4th in terms of income disparity with 1% of the population capturing 12.2% of the income pie in 2012. Only the United States (20%), Great Britain (12.9%) and Germany (12.7) had greater income inequality than Canada.

So where is all our money going? Well, ultimately it’s going into only a few hundred different people’s bank accounts. It may take only one transaction or it may take several, but eventually your paycheck is going to end up in the bank account of a Koch, a Walton or a Vik.

When we spend money at businesses where the revenue is removed from our local ‘micro economy,’ that money is essentially removed from circulation… at least as far as our own pocketbooks are concerned. We will never see it again. Often that money is no longer even going to circulate in our provincial or federal economies. That money is going to sit in an (often offshore) account, collecting interest (which is paid for in part by the interest on our mortgages, credit cards and other loans), never to be seen, or really used, again.

When we choose to shop at, bank and use the services of locally owned businesses, the entire community benefits… including us. When we buy local the money is going to circulate within our own community.

For example, when we purchase groceries from the farmer at the local farmers market that money can then go towards your daughter’s next paycheck since she is a cashier at the local hardware store that farmer buys supplies at. And your daughter, who has just purchased a University textbook at the local bookstore, is now passing that money on to her best friend, who works at the bookstore. She then passes it on to the owner of the local pizzeria who passes it on to your nephew who delivers the pizzas, and on and on, the money slowly making its way through the pocketbooks of the community and eventually into the services provided by the municipal government and enjoyed by everyone.

This same concept can be applied at all levels of government but most specifically at the municipal government level. Our municipal governments can choose to stimulate their local economies in numerous ways but most obviously by choosing to circulate as much of their annual budget as possible within the community.

The city can choose to use local companies to do city maintenance instead of contracting the jobs to companies outside of the community. The city can choose to purchase supplies from local businesses instead of big box stores.

Most importantly; the city can help to make it easy for local entrepreneurs to open businesses in the community. Doing this will have our cities alive and thriving and we in turn will benefit by living in more vibrant, more sustainable and more connected communities. And we just might even be a bit more financially stable. Essentially it all comes down to each of us deciding whether we would rather share our paycheck with our neighbor or give it away to some guy on a 500’ yacht, complete with helipad and mini submarine, vacationing somewhere just south of Fiji. From my perspective, the choice is obvious.

Carson ZiCarson Zi is a citizen of Pitt Meadows, former owner of the One Love-United We Grind Coffee House. .

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