Living Local

This post is inspired by a friend of mine who now lives in Pennsylvania.  She has recently started a website that is called Green Living Co-op of Indiana, PA.  She is compiling information for healthy and local living.  The site is new, but GREAT so far!  I love the information she already has posted!  I think they are planning on having mostly local resources, but also provide healthy food resources as well!  I think Northern Virginia needs a site like this!

I do try hard to buy local as much as possible and to support local businesses.  Sometimes I do well and other times, not so much!  I know there has been a big movement towards this and it can seem very overwhelming to even think about it not to mention the possibility of things costing more.  Although, a higher cost isn’t always true.  Sometimes it dose include some lifestyle changes, but they aren’t all bad!  Usually a lot of great health comes along with it!

I actually prepare or grow as much as I can myself.  I try to make my own condiments like ketchup, mayo, mustard, salad dressings, etc. I also grow as much as I can in my little town house lot!  We did get some strawberries, herbs, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, green beans, peppers, cucumbers and a few other things.  I also make most of my own cleaning supplies and try to make them as multi-purpose as possible so that I can make large batches to go a long way and I don’t have to make so many different cleaners.  I also make laundry detergent, deodorant, toothpaste and more.  But this isn’t the reason for this post.  I list those things because I then don’t have to worry about finding a place that actually makes or produces these things locally.

So what are some of the areas that I try to buy local?
Food is a big one!  We go through a lot of it and we need it on a daily basis! Then there are gifts, housewares, toys, clothing, gardening items, auto repairs, home repairs and so much more.  Below are some of the options we have chosen on our path of commitment to our local community.

  1.  Meat – we purchase from a local farm buying club that has a local drop directly from the farm.  We are able to get all the grass-fed beef and pork, free range poultry, and raw diary that we need through them.  The prices are actually very similar to purchasing organic at the grocery store.
  2. We also like venison which provides very inexpensive meat to the table!  It is organic… unless it is feeding of the GMO corn in the fields around us!  It’s benefits are two fold.  We obtain great meat and we are able to help the local farmers to keep the deer from eating their crops!
  3. Produce – In the spring, summer and fall I grow as much as I can and also purchase from the farmer’s market as much as possible. Wegmans also purchases locally!  A variety of produce is labeled, indicating the farm it came from and where it is located!  They also have local meats!  This makes it a lot easier when they label it so clearly!
  4. Gifts – I often make my own or I purchase a lot from Etsy.   I love this site!  I know most of these items are made on a small scale and some of them are re-purposed and it’s easy to tell where they were made and are shipping from.  This is often my first place to go for gifts.  I also use it to give me ideas of what I can make myself!  I also purchase gifts at the farmer’s market – like a scrumptious jellies, beautiful knitted items, hand dyed fabrics, fragrant, fresh flowers, natural soaps, etc.
  5. Gardening – often my new flowers or perennials come from Freecycle, Craigslist or friends who are trying to weed out or thin their own plants.  Almost all of the plants in my garden haven’t been purchased. I did purchase my heirloom seeds for the vegetable garden from a place in southern Virginia, but then I have just seed saved for the last 5 years and haven’t had to purchase any more seed!  I also try to have plants that are native to the area to ensure they are easy to grow and don’t take over!
  6. Housewares – these are a little harder.  I try to look at the tags and at least make sure they are made in the USA.  I do like antiques and will often look at yard sales for old ice cream scoops, measuring spoons, etc which are often cheaper and I’m giving them a second or third or fourth life!
  7. Toys – Same as above – I at least try to purchase USA made.  We did have a toy kitchen built for our kids that was from re-purposed wood from northern Virginia and made by an Arlington, VA dad who likes to work with wood!  We have loved this and it is sturdy, will last a life time and be able to be handed down to our great grandchildren.  For Christmas the boys received swords and shields that are made from wood that I purchased from a local artisan from a craft fair in the summer.  These are a huge hit in our home! Craft fairs are a great place to find wooden toys for kids.  I also did a more detailed post on natural toys and our decisions regarding toys for our family.
  8. Clothing – It is a huge blessing that my mother-in-law supplies the majority of the kids wardrobes!  It is so helpful!  For the few things that I need to supplement I frequent consignment shops, thrift stores, yard sales, hand me downs, Freecycle, Craigslist, or even Etsy.  There are some great ways to purchase locally and to reuse clothing that others no longer need!  If I choose to purchase new, it is much harder and I usually settle for USA made.
  9. Auto repairs – obviously this does have to be local… I don’t think I know of anyone who ships their car overseas to get the windshield repaired!  It’s also hard to find out where the parts come from and if you can chose to have parts made elsewhere… however we can be choosy on the labor.  My brother-in-law is a mechanic and it is great to be able to help support their family. He  will often work on our cars at his home or after his work hours. He  makes a better hourly wage that way and we pay less.  This is a great arrangement although I know a lot of people may not have options like this!
  10. Home repairs – This is similar to the car repairs note above.  We do try to hire repairmen who own smaller businesses and are local.  There are a few that we know of in our neighborhood and who have been helping us work on our home.

Get to know your neighbors!  One of ours makes dog collars which we purchased two from her this year as a Christmas gift for family!  Another of our neighbors does home repair and is working with us to redo our carpet and counter tops in order to get our house on the market.  Another neighbor knows a lot about working on cars and motorcycles and has given my husband advice and help on multiple occasions, I’m a nurse and I’ve given medical advice to our neighbors before.  Build a community with those around you and you will be surprise at how much you can bless and help others and how much they in turn will bless you!

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