Why shopping local is a secret sustainability hack

This article was written by IndieGB. IndieGB is an app that helps adventurous customers find and support local businesses in Bristol.

Think back to the last time you wanted to buy something. The journey you followed probably looked a little like this: You Googled it, you ordered it, you clicked next day delivery – or better yet – same-day delivery, and then you eagerly awaited it.

We’re wired to expect things now. Our expectation for instant gratification is the norm, rather than the exception. In fact, if we’re asked to wait 3-5 business days for something to arrive, we’re mildly outraged.

The next-day delivery phenomenon was pioneered by tech behemoth Amazon, but it’s since been adopted by thousands of retailers trying to play catch up.

Speed is a lucrative trade. The on-demand economy has been built upon our inability to hold out. This isn’t our fault – in fact, it’s a fascinating insight into how powerful field service management systems have become – these are the backbones behind the mileage, depot designation, and travel times of our parcels.

But as we’re busy enjoying our quick fixes, we seldom think about the environmental impact of those near-instant journeys. To put it bluntly, sustainability is sacrificed for speed. If a vendor had a 3-5 day window to dispatch its deliveries, they could wait for everyone’s orders to come through first to ensure vans are fully packed. But next day deliveries require a greater number of journeys because there’s no time to wait.

While one option is to be more patient, another is to turn your attention to the local gems on your doorstep. Pandemic-permitting, there are hundreds of local shops in Bristol that can help you be more sustainable, especially those that source their stock from local suppliers, so mass-manufacturing isn’t called upon.

Plus, when you shop local, you’re limiting delivery travel as well as your own – especially if you’re getting there with a quick walk or an even quicker cycle.

In fact, there’s no better place to start than in Bristol. A recent survey, which compared the recycling rates, air quality and Google searches of cities across the UK named Bristol one of the more eco-conscious contenders making the world a greener place.

Plus, Bristol is jam-packed with a host of independent shops – many of which are geared towards prioritising sustainability. Here are a few places to start:

If you’re after quirky gifts

  • Casper on North Street sells everything from clothing, gifts, art and delightfully hand-made trinkets
  • BAM Store on Belle Vue Road is a not-for-profit indie gem selling books, homeware and colourful cards
  • Old Market Plants on Gloucester Lane is literally a jungle for fauna-loving Bristolians, you can’t go wrong

If you’re after re-loved garments from yesteryear

  • Loot Vintage on Haymarket Walk features well-made, well-loved and well-looked after vintage must-haves
  • That Thing on Stokes Croft offers clothing, homeware and even graffiti spray paint
  • Fabulous Vintage Co is – as the name suggests – a fabulous and timeless selection of styles from as far back as the 1920s

If you’re after locally sourced produce

  • Earthbound on Abbotsford Road finds its fruit veg from organic farms in Somerset, Devon and Wales, so you know it’s a sustainable close-to-home option
  • Reg the Veg on Boyce’s Avenue is a cute, family-run spot that is packed with locally-grown produce
  • Radford Mill Farm Shop on Picton Street features food straight from field-to-basket, with many of its seasonal favourites coming from its own organic farm just outside the city