What Are the Sustainability Benefits of Local Sourcing? 

What Are the Sustainability Benefits of Local Sourcing? 
Reading Time: 5 minutes

What Are the Sustainability Benefits of Local Sourcing? Image Unspolash.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

What Are the Sustainability Benefits of Local Sourcing? 

Waiting on world leaders to solve climate change could be an exercise in futility. Addressing the problem requires everyone to make a greater effort to go green, from business leaders to individual consumers. One simple step is to source what you need locally — so what are the sustainability benefits? 

Some of the perks to the planet are obvious, while others are more subtle. However, keeping things close to home can make a big difference. Here’s a closer look at the sustainability benefits of local sourcing. 

The Increasing Importance of Making Sustainable Choices 

Climate change has already begun to usher in stronger and more frequent natural disasters. Air pollution alone accounts for 7 million premature deaths annually and increases migration as people flee areas plagued by storms and drought. 

Worse, the world is not on track to contain global temperature rise below 1.5° Celsius. Many nations aren’t cutting their emissions quickly enough or contributing sufficient amounts to carbon removal to meet the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement. Planting new forests is the easiest way to remove excess carbon, but deforestation continues at rates that leave fewer green places on Earth each year. 

Waiting for world leaders to act could be a suicide mission. They continue to wage war despite its effects on greenhouse gas emissions, pollution levels and biodiversity loss. Such poor decision-making in the face of the climate crisis means individuals and business leaders must pick up the slack.

Everyone has a stake in the game. Failing to do so won’t only impact human quality of life. Unchecked climate change could result in forced government lockdowns that disrupt business operations far more than choosing to do the right thing — right now. 

One of the most sustainable things businesses and individuals can do is source the supplies they need to live or conduct commerce locally. It’s an easy way to reduce emissions while providing other benefits that further enhance the human experience. 

4 Sustainability Benefits of Local Sourcing 

Why should you source what you need locally? Here are four sustainability benefits of local sourcing. 

1. Fewer Emissions

The most obvious sustainability benefit to local sourcing is reducing the number of emissions produced during transport. Shipping over a shorter distance slashes the total emissions needed to complete the mission. 

Consider the adventures of goods shipped to the United States from China. They might begin their journey on a truck, cross the ocean on a ship or a plane, board a train upon reaching a foreign shore before landing on yet another truck to take them to your store’s shelves. Every step in the journey contributes to climate change. 

Reducing the time goods spend on the road is among the top green behaviors individuals and businesses can participate in to decrease their carbon footprints. Better yet, it’s a passive activity that requires little active participation, unlike recycling, which requires sorting and rinsing to work effectively. 

There’s a bonus for businesses and consumers for reaping the sustainability benefits of local sourcing: saving money. Shipping companies typically charge a standard load rate per mile, so the less transportation it takes to move products from the manufacturing facility to store shelves, the more profit a company makes. Consumers rejoice when they fill their tanks less often. 

2. Reduces Shrink 

Another sustainability benefit of local sourcing, particularly for business owners, is reducing shrink. Shrink is the retail industry’s term for missing inventory, but it also applies to the raw materials manufacturers import for creating their goods. 

Shrink can occur from multiple causes: 

  • The shipping process damages items
  • Multiple handlers result in lost items along the supply chain
  • Theft 

The longer an item has to travel to its destination, the more opportunity shrink has to occur. It doesn’t matter if the causes are innocent or nefarious — the planetary impact is the same. 

When manufacturers and retailers lose goods, they must replace them. That means more energy expended during manufacturing and more emissions created in shipping the replacement items to their destinations. 

The same happens on a smaller scale with consumers, although their frustration may reach nuclear levels. Many people have ordered a product online, only to arrive broken. When they attempt to return it, they struggle to locate the correct contact information, often resulting in giving up in despair. The broken order ends up in a landfill, contributing to methane emissions. 

Sourcing locally presents fewer opportunities for the damage, loss or theft of items during transit. It also facilitates the return and repair process. For example, a consumer who buys a bicycle from the shop down the street can quickly swap out a broken pedal without creating a single emission by walking. 

Business leaders have an even greater opportunity to help the climate crisis by sourcing locally. Doing so reduces shrink while presenting valuable networking opportunities. When great minds come together, magic occurs. Such teams can brainstorm more efficient ways to improve product performance and delivery in greener, more sustainable ways. 

3. Boosts the Local Economy

The sustainability benefits of local sourcing are so profound that some climate experts believe they can lead humanity to a greener way of life. The concept of 15-minute cities refers to locating all essential daily amenities, including work, within a 15 to 20-minute walk, bike or other transportation mode. Business leaders can play a valuable role in transitioning to such models by forming partnerships with other locals who see the perks to planetary and human health. 

Boosting the local economy helps sustainability beyond the 15-minute city concept. It also generates revenue municipalities can put towards projects that reduce their carbon footprint, such as: 

  • Solar panel-covered parking lots
  • Alternative-fuel public transport, such as light rail and electric buses
  • Expanded public transportation routes to reduce traffic and emissions
  • E-bike share programs 
  • Beautification projects, including the installation of more trees and green spaces to absorb carbon 
  • Improved waste management, including municipal recycling and composting

4. Builds Consumer Confidence 

Consumer confidence is at an all-time low. It goes beyond the difficulties of claiming a refund for lost or damaged items. The need for right-to-repair laws demonstrates a breakdown in the social fabric indicative of prioritizing profit over commonsense and human reality. The result is frustrated customers who have no choice but to ship and wait weeks or months for a factory repair or to replace the item — an unsustainable alternative. 

An often-overlooked sustainability benefit of local sourcing is rebuilding trust. When consumers can easily return an item or take it in for repair and deal with their friends and neighbors, the community fabric reknits itself. People who feel good about what they buy are more likely to open their wallets, benefiting the business community as well. 

The Sustainability Benefits of Local Sourcing

Meeting climate change goals requires a bottoms-up approach, a coordinated effort of business leaders and individual community members picking up the slack that international leaders drop. Local sourcing is one of the most crucial ways to reduce total emissions and combat rising temperatures. 

The sustainability benefits of local sources include fewer emissions, less shrink, stronger local communities and enriched business-consumer relationships. These perks extend beyond the planet, helping enterprises grow while behaving with ethics and integrity and increasing profits. 

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