Small Business BC – Why is shopping local better?

February 12, 2021
By: christina-summerfield

You might have noticed a growing trend towards shopping at local, small, and independent businesses in British Columbia in recent years, but does it really make a difference if you spend your hard-earned dollars to support a local business vs a superstore? To put it simply: Yes. Think of each dollar you spend as being like a vote – here are just some of the reasons to put that towards a small BC business…

Better for the environment

Shopping locally and zero waste reduces pollution from transportation and packaging along the supply chain. This is especially important for fresh produce, which often needs to be refrigerated during transit causing significant energy use and emissions as a result. The air miles and carbon footprint of fruit and veg alone is bad news for climate change.

Locally-grown, in-season produce is usually tastier and higher in nutrients. It’s also more likely to come from small growers using sustainable farming practices, including crop diversity and less reliance on pesticides/fertilizers – all of which preserve soil health. Land is also used more productively as compared to big business, where construction and development of large sites can lead to water run-off and reduction of natural habitats.

Our Harvest Union CSA bags include a selection of fresh produce from BC farmers which vary each week, offering the very best of each season (and helping you to avoid the dreaded recipe rut!), and are zero waste to boot!

Better for the local economy

Dollars spent at local businesses are more likely to be invested back into the community by the business itself – whether through their own supply chain, tax, or charitable contributions. Shopping local also supports local employment opportunities, which increases the standard of living in the area: A 2013 study on small business and the BC economy¹ found that 2.6x more local jobs were created when money was spent at independent businesses, as compared to chains. 

Small companies are also more likely to retain employees in times of recession, and recover faster than large firms – making the local economy more stable, and more resilient to economic shocks. An incredible 98.3% of BC residents are employed by small businesses: the highest rate in Canada!²

Our nuts and nut butters come from Island Nut Roastery in Victoria, who have a history of donating their delicious goods to good causes – including thousands of jars to a local charity providing homeless and poverty support in 2019! 

Better for reducing waste

Shorter supply chains and zero waste initiatives mean breakages in transit and loss of freshness are less common, generating less waste compared to big business and commercial transportation practices. Think about it – the time in transit and potential delays for fresh produce to be shipped across the world (vs from your local farm) is far greater!

The use of packaging materials including styrofoam, plastic, and cardboard to prevent damage is also significantly lower for local businesses. Shopping zero waste products from businesses like Livlite requires very little packaging in the supply chain due to both the shorter transportation times, and the sustainable packaging used to get goods to customers (returnable jars and recycled paper, which is safe to go in your home compost bin). We are also extremely mindful of waste in our operations, and reuse materials where we can!

At Livlite, part of our core mission is to reduce single-use packaging and encourage a shift towards zero waste living – and most of our suppliers share this vision! Our ‘Love Me Some’ crackers are delivered in reusable containers from Burnaby, our coffee beans come in refillable pails from local legends Agro Roasters, and both Sriracha Revolver and Harvest Community Foods products are also sent to us in returnable containers.

Better for you: the customer

Local independent businesses are far more likely to engage directly with their consumers, offering a personal response to queries or ordering issues, leading to a better (and typically more human) customer experience. Small businesses are also more responsive to changes in demand – meaning that they’re committed to meeting your shopping preferences, rather than you being influenced by promotions that may not actually be in your best interests.

Shopping local has also been found to have health benefits in many studies – this links back to our previous point about nutrients and chemical use, but simple things like locally-harvested honey can help with allergies too! Our zero waste honey comes from EastVan Bees and is produced with hive-owners and community gardens exclusively in the Mountain View area – it doesn’t get more local than that!

Small business, big impact

So that’s that! Whether your main concern is reducing single use packaging like us, supporting local jobs, or simply having a more tailored shopping experience – the benefits of shopping local in Vancouver are clear. Now, fancy exploring our full range of local produce? Of course you do! Just click here.

¹https://ccednet-rcdec.ca/sites/ccednet-rcdec.ca/files/ccednet/pdfs/independant_bc_small_and_the_british_colombia_economy.pdf 

²https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/061.nsf/eng/h_03018.html#point2-1