Close to home

T he saying “think globally act locally” is so well worn it no longer resonates the way it once did but it’s only becoming increasingly relevant as we grapple with major environmental and economic concerns.

Last week the Echo featured an article about the work of the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce. Among its many initiatives is promoting buying local products and services through a sustained long-term education and marketing campaign. Its origins were the new Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act which raised the minimum wage to $14 as of Jan. 1 2018 and enhanced other measures for workers. One way to support businesses chamber president Richard Wannan said is to take the larger issue of new legislation and act locally by putting dollars into the local economy.

Retailers restaurants and service providers have greater competition than ever before. Not only do shoppers leave the Highlands to spend their money in towns like Lindsay Peterborough and Bracebridge but they also now shop online.

The Financial Post reported in March that “Canadians are expected to spend $39 billion a year online by 2019 accounting for about 9.5 per cent of all retail purchases.”

The same article quoting an E-Tail Canada report states that since 2010 there have been “double-digit percentage increases in online sales year on year.”

Retaining local shoppers has a lot to do with education Wannan says. “People need to learn to ask [local shop staff] ‘do you have this? Can you get this?’” he says.

Most of the time a local business does have the product or can order it in and match the price found elsewhere.

It’s a small commitment to make but the shopper doesn’t have to lose out when deciding to shop locally and in the end having a vibrant local economy means having a vibrant community.

The same goes for making environmental change.

As Carolynn Coburn of Environment Haliburton says in this week’s story ahead of Earth Day the best thing we can do to lessen the impact of climate change and build a stronger society is to focus our efforts on what is right in front of us.

Walk instead of drive. Buy your groceries in town rather than driving an hour in search of a few discounts.

Support the businesses in your community that in turn put their money back into the economy. Build a strong local network that can be counted on when times get tough.

Putting efforts into improving our local environment and economy mean as we are faced with natural disasters or wild weather – ice storms tornadoes flooding and drought – we have the capacity to help each other out. And when we spend less time driving to other places we pollute less and create more financial stability.

By focusing our love and attention on our neighbours and community we will be much better prepared to tackle the global issues being thrown our way.