Localization Instead of Globalization

February 13, 2014  
Filed under Sustainable Living


Recently, we have seen the effects of globalization. As local jobs are increasingly outsourced and recessions continue to loom, we should realize that it just isn’t working. Economist and author Michael Shuman notes, “About 42 percent of our economy is ‘place based’ or created through small, locally owned businesses.” This means that almost half our economy depends upon small independent businesses that make up the backbone of our hometowns.

These small businesses are what give our towns local color and local flavor. They are what differentiate us from every other exit on the highway that has the same six chain stores. Local businesses are also committed to their hometowns and support the local economy through hiring people in the area, donations to little leagues and volunteer ambulance and fire service, and paying local taxes.

The key to economic recovery is localization, reversing globalization. Shuman estimates that we could expand our national economy to be 70 percent local or more by incorporating these ten simple steps that will also save you money.

– Localize your home. The biggest expense most of us have is our mortgage. Actually, 60 percent of our annual expenses go to shelter. By renting from a local landlord or buying your own home with a mortgage from a local bank, you can localize this expense. Local banks and credit unions typically have the best rates anyway, possibly saving you money in the process.

– Drive less. According to Shuman, Americans spend one out of every five dollars on transportation. That amounts to almost $5,000 per year! Until we can start replacing imported oil with locally produced biofuels, our best bet is to drive less.

– Using mass transit, bicycling or walking is highest on the list, but not very easy for us rural folks. Use the car sparingly, buy gas from an independent gas station if you can find one and use a local repair shop you trust.

– Eat independently. Households spend about $2300 per year on restaurants; unfortunately, it’s mostly fast-food chains. This one is a simple matter of choice. It takes very little effort to find a wonderful independently owned restaurant.

– Support local arts and entertainment. Most people opt for a movie at a corporate multiplex at the mall. Enjoy homegrown talent! Visit the small repertory theater to see a real play instead of a movie. Visit an art show, buy art from local artists and buy music directly from the bands.

– Localize your health care. Get your meds from an independent pharmacy, preferably one that also uses local suppliers

– Buy locally grown food. Eating locally, meaning buying fresh vegetables, meats and dairy from local farms reduces transportation costs and vitamin loss. The closer you eat to home, the more you improve your health, your view and your local economy.

– Localize electricity. You could save thousands per year just by increasing your energy efficiency.

– Give locally! More than 6 percent of the U.S. economy is nonprofit, according to Shuman. Most of these nonprofits are in the forms of hospitals, universities and churches, but locally we also have arts organizations, environmental groups and many others.

– Buy local! In the time it has taken you to read this, Americans have collectively spent $23 million. Shuman says that $16 million of this figure could be spent in small locally owned stores. How far would $16 million go in your hometown today?



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