With the economic downturn caused by lockdowns this year and pandemic-safe online shopping soaring, small businesses have suffered while huge conglomerates (you know their names) are accumulating disgustingly high profits, which don't in fact, as we so often seem to be told, "trickle down". There are a plethora of political and ethical issues associated with this, and we need to tread carefully when we decide to shop for short-term convenience at the expense of our planet and it's inhabitants.
Small and medium independent businesses, from your local shop and cafe to the small tech firm and beauty salon on the high street, make up 99% of business in the UK - with 96% of them being classified as micro-businesses that have 9 or less employees. These businesses are considered to be the backbone of a healthy economy, they drive growth, provide employment opportunities and open new markets. The reliance on consumerism for a country's health and stability is another issue that must be renegotiated as we reckon with our impact on this world, but in the meantime we still need to clothe and feed ourselves - so what's the best way to go about it responsibly today?
Choose local - the less your item has travelled, the lower its overall footprint. Shopping for locally grown and harvested produce will also support your local shop and food producers, and therefore your local community as a whole. One of the biggest benefits for you will be the fact that these local businesses can adapt to your communities needs in a way that larger chains cannot - like less plastic packaging
Choose small - even when shopping online, you can go directly to independent retailers and find items that don't need to travel as far to get to you. As there are so many innovative small businesses there is more and more choice for you as a consumer - and when these businesses thrive it encourages more creators, artists and entrepreneurs to emerge and therefore this creates more diversity and affordability
Choose seasonal - when it comes to food and drink choosing seasonal is top of the list, it lowers the demand for foods that are flown in from other countries and creates more for local food production
And not too much - as much as we search for the most sustainable options available to us as individuals, on a whole we need to stop consuming as much we do
Our consumer choices hold so much power, and its time for us to use this power to support what we believe in, and to use each purchase to 'vote' for what kind of future we want going forward.