After years of globalisation and fragmented living, it has taken a pandemic for many to reassess their relationship with their local community and local ecosystems. Investing your resources where your life is, helps you to give back to your local region and reap the emotional, social and economic benefits. We will explore 5 reasons why you should invest and increase your engagement with your local community.
1. Support the Local Economy
The pandemic has changed the face of many local business districts, with shop front closures and significant increases in unemployment. Our reliance on local hubs to keep our neighbourhoods vibrant has become more visible as many have stayed in their local communities, unable to travel interstate or abroad.
COVID-19 has revealed how interconnected and interdependent humans are. Safety and support nets are essential in times of economic distress and hardship— the more of us we can keep afloat and participate in the local economy, the better for all of us.
SBS estimates that ⅓ of Australian small businesses could financially close due to the pandemic without financial help. The industries most at risk of financial loss right now include: restaurants and bars; hotels and lodging; performing arts, sports and museums.
When we invest in local relations by purchasing from local businesses, we are investing in our neighbours and the common good. In this new normal, being part of solutions to create and maintain local jobs; keeping local capital in circulation and ensuring our money helps other ancillary businesses will have a profound impact on the local economy and the local community.
2. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Buying and living locally can be one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable society. You can start with basic needs such as bread, veggies and milk and purchasing other food staples from nearby farmers markets or local grocers. It makes sense to source regionally as it shortens the distance from production to consumption and supports local producers.
Buying locally significantly reduces the amount of plastic waste as most food items sold have limited packaging compared to a supermarket. You also have the added benefit of accessing fresh, quality foods.
Globalisation has made many of us jetsetters but there are huge environmental costs when we live that kind of lifestyle and we have been witnessing the adverse effects of late. Appreciating the beauty of your region by taking local holidays or even opting for a staycation can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. The pandemic has helped people re-discover their local areas resulting in an increase in choosing recreation activities that involve visiting a local park or public garden rather than going to a large shopping mall.
3. Improve our own Physical and Emotional Health
Living locally does wonders for your physical and emotional health.
The ability to work, live and play all within 20 minutes’ reach reduces stress, helps you to stay physically active and connected to people around you.
Walking instead of driving to work, to shop or to drop the kids off school, helps you to live an active lifestyle that helps you to maintain a healthy weight, improve your mood and prevent or manage various conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
By connecting on a daily basis to your neighbours, you can improve neighbourhood safety and community spirit. It’s also a lot of fun getting involved on a local level, embarking on joint ventures like starting a community garden or volunteering for a local op shop. When you know there are people who live close by that promote the health and welfare of the local community, it does wonders for public health.
4. Save Time and Money
How much time and money goes into daily transportation? Whether it’s cutting back on time in transit or rethinking your need for two cars because you are on foot more, there are many opportunities to reduce household costs as you explore local living.
If you work from home, it’s easier to make your own lunch and dress casually, saving money on work lunches and a formal office wardrobe. It also frees up your time to make dinner and cut back on takeout which can be tempting when you face a daily long commute. Exploring free services in your local neighbourhood such as your local library or access to heritage parks for residents, helps you to save money on leisure activities for the children.
5. Help Fuel Democracy
When you live, shop and work locally, you become more aware of the particular social challenges facing your community. It may be homelessness, income inequality or youth unemployment- whatever the socio-economic issue, you will feel more inspired to get involved with local community projects and volunteer to improve conditions for fellow locals.
By becoming more of a citizen that is grounded in place, you will help fuel democracy which can only work when you spend more time in an area to notice amenities or the lack of in a local neighbourhood environment.
Paying attention to your whereabouts helps you to be better informed when it comes to voting and if required, lobbying the needs of your local community to your local representatives for better street design, improved footbaths or more green spaces. Localism is a growing movement that will be part of the new normal as we reconnect to the place we call home.