Living and working locally can have many benefits for the individual, but the biggest rewards come for the community as a whole. Not only can you support local farmers, businesses, and artists, you can also conserve energy, fuel, and resources and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
There are so many positive benefits to living and working locally, including for your health. Working close to home means you can put that long commute behind you and walk, bike, or use public transportation to get to the office, cutting out the need to buy-and use-gasoline.
Over the past several decades, studies have shown that up to 80% of human health is determined by social factors such as income, housing quality, and education, rather than just by the availability or quality of medical care. In response, health care policies are now being directed toward investments in prevention at the community level. As hospitals and other health care providers begin to understand their capacity to use more organizational assets to enhance human health and invest in their local communities, new strategic alliances are emerging, says BeALocalist.org.
Not only that, you can reap the benefits of creating healthier meals by shopping at local farmer's markets for fresh and organic produce. While some people are wary of buying directly from farmers because it can be a bit more expensive than buying from the supermarket, studies in Canada have shown that in the long run, it can actually save you money.
Research out of Brock University suggests $3 billion would be added to the local economy if 5 million Ontarians spent $10 of their grocery budget on local foods each week. You don't always spend more to shop for local food; in some cases it can cost less because in-season foods are generally cheaper and travel costs are minimized, says GreenLivingOnline .
Making an effort to live and work locally means you are supporting your neighborhood, which can in turn mean big things for your community. Boosting local economy and shopping at family-owned businesses can mean a spike in the amount of taxes they pay in, which goes toward paving roads, building schools, and the upkeep of the community. Nice neighborhoods draw potential homeowners , which keeps the cycle going.
It isn't always easy to find a home near your workplace, and that's okay. If it's not possible, consider volunteering in your community. Farms, community gardens, soup kitchens, libraries, and housing projects are all great places to start.
One of the key parts of living local is being involved. Building up your community takes time and can't be done in a day or a week; rather, it's something you'll need to commit to and work on every day, in many different aspects. Start by looking for things you can buy from your grocery or shopping list that are available within 50 miles of your home and work outward. You won't always be able to purchase everything you need locally, but it's helpful to get familiar with your neighborhood and surrounding areas so you'll know what you can find. From baked goods to pottery, there will likely be many local businesses that can cater to your needs.
Erica Francis is passionate about helping young people prepare for careers in a tough job market. She enjoys developing rich lesson plans and other educational resources. Some of her lesson plans can be found on ReadyJob.org .
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