Taking steps to a more local lifestyle is a little daunting at first. Luckily for me, I live in a vibrant city that offers a lot in terms of locally produced goods and services. I’m also fortunate that a major retail chain, Target, is located here, which means that things which are harder to find from local vendors (toothpaste, bath soap, etc) can at least be purchased from a company that keeps money in the community.
I decided to start by breaking down basic needs and general purchases and set up some guidelines for sticking to the challenge. Here are the categories I’ve devised:
Food and Drink
- Groceries: local chains or co-ops, farmer’s markets, and CSAs. At least 50% of each purchase should come from local producers whenever possible.
- Eating out: local restaurants or restaurant chains only, with seasonal and local ingredients where possible. Local beverage companies (this won’t be hard!).
- Production: utilize my garden space for as long and as productively as possible. Consider helping out with a CSA.
- Household needs, toiletries, and general purchases: purchased locally, produced locally whenever possible, national where not, green
- Clothing: primarily resale/thrift. If new, locally produced or sold, or handmade.
- Pet supplies: purchased locally, produced locally or nationally (luckily, my particular brand of cat litter is made here in Minnesota!).
- Utilities: use green, local energy. Currently I do not pay for my basic utilities but I may in the future need to make those decisions.
- Transportation: biking, walking, public transit. Purchase gas as infrequently as possible, and from locally run chains. Most gas stations, while they have a larger brand identity, are run by smaller family businesses.
- See live performances by local performers and artists, at locally-owned establishments.
- Purchase produced work from local vendors. As a musician myself, I have an obligation to support artists all over the country, and the world for that matter, but I can make an effort to avoid iTunes and Amazon and support great places that make the Cities’ cultural scene an exciting place to be.
- Vacation locally, keeping money within the state or region. While there support businesses local to that community.
- When elsewhere, use local companies to arrange travel. Support businesses local to that community.
- This is a project that primarily focuses on how I spend my own money and time. People treating me to gifts, food, cultural experiences, etc, should not feel obligated to follow the guidelines and can spend their money as they see fit.
- I hope to maintain this project for a year, and beyond that if possible. If at any point I have to make a decision or purchase that falls outside of the boundaries I’ve set up here I will be forthcoming.
Plan of Attack
In truth, I spend very little money on day-to-day life. I pay rent, bills, purchase general needs, and go out occasionally. I try to live as simply as possible, mostly for the sake of my wallet and my sanity. This is, first and foremost, an opportunity for me to engage myself more deeply in my neighborhood and community. I will document every local purchase and experience I make here, and provide links and reviews to the services in question. I hope to come out, at the end of next year, a richer person for it.