A Watershed Moment: Going Local

On this week’s episode we hear from Elissa Hillary, Executive Director of Local First, as she discussed the economic and environmental impacts of shopping locally.

Local First is a nonprofit community and economic development organization that advocates for locally-owned businesses throughout the region. Founded in 2003 with just seven participating members, the organization now represents over 600 businesses in Grand Rapids and around West Michigan.

Local First subscribes to the Triple Bottom Line – a business model that defines the success of a given company as a healthy relationship between people, planet and profit, rather than profit alone.

According to Hillary, economic and urban development often go hand-in-hand with environmental stewardship as transportation is a major cause of pollution.

“We know that when we do business with local economies that 73% more money stays in the community. But we also know that most often those local companies are located within more urban areas, so you’re able to walk to those areas and hopefully driving less,” said Hillary, ”When you’re doing things like choosing local food, that food is traveling less. All the fuel and those other costs add up to negatively impact the environment.”

Hillary also noted that if consumers shifted $1 out of every $10 to local businesses it would create 1600 jobs in West Michigan.

“A big part of what we do [at Local First] is talk to is talk to the community is talk to the community about making those small choices in our daily lives that can create that 1 in $10 shift and can create jobs for our friends and neighbors,” she said.

Listen to this week’s episode online.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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