What is Localism, and Why Does It Matter?

If you haven't heard the term "localism," you're seeing it in action any time a person or brand promotes “shopping local” - prioritizing one’s own local area or region, and typically doing so by patronizing locally sourced goods and locally owned businesses. With the rise of online shopping and subsequent struggle for brick and mortar retailers to stay in business, of course local companies want you to buy local. But it turns out, the benefits of doing so go beyond keeping mom & pops afloat.

Reduces Carbon Emissions

We often take for granted where something has come from when we buy it. Whether it’s a gadget bought online or a piece of fruit from the grocery store, the things we consume on a daily basis often travel great lengths to get to us with seeming ease. With the rise of online shopping and increased international trade, if no further action is taken, global shipping will account for 17% of all carbon emissions by 2050. Lack of transparency from merchants can make it hard to judge the carbon footprint of the merchandise you’re purchasing, but at least when you shop locally, you know that you’re preventing unnecessary carbon waste as those products don’t have to travel from as far to get to you. Bonus points if you walk, bike, or take public transit to your destination! Local businesses are also more likely to use local suppliers, which even further cuts total carbon emissions from shipping.

Bolsters Your Local Economy

Not only do local businesses pay income tax in your community, which helps fund your schools, fill your potholes, and support other critical public services, they’re also more likely to partner with other local businesses like banks, suppliers, and community organizations. For every $100 you spend at a local business, $68 will stay in your community, which is 3x more than what a chain competitor would contribute. 

Small businesses are also responsible for ⅔ of private sector jobs. “Locally owned businesses employ more people per unit of sales, and retain more employees during economic downturns, while big-box retailers decrease the number of retail jobs in a region,” according to the Institute of Local Self-Reliance. Shopping at one can keep your town unemployment rate to a minimum and make it so people don’t have to leave to find work.

Grows the Middle Class

Concerned about increasing income inequality? Some economists attribute one of the factors of income inequality with the rise of consolidated market power in the hands of relatively few very large corporations. In contrast, small businesses are linked to higher income growth and lower levels of poverty. “…Counties with higher percentages of employment in locally based, small businesses have stronger local economies. Using data on every U.S. county in the period between 2000 and 2008, Rupasingha finds that local entrepreneurship has a positive effect on county per capita income growth and employment growth and a negative effect on poverty rates,” according to an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank.

Ups the Cool Factor & Home Values in Your Community

Have you ever noticed that your favorite cities and towns usually have lots of small businesses? Local businesses are part of what gives a place its character, and that character pays off. Neighborhoods with thriving small business communities see an average of 50% increases in home values. 

Local Businesses Better Suit the Needs of the Community

Not only are local businesses better in tune with what products and services its community most needs and appreciates, supporting them also ultimately supports the people who actually live there. Worried about gentrification in your neighborhood? Patronize businesses owned by people from that community to help keep them there.

Isn’t it exciting to know that you can help shape your community to a place you can be proud of and love living in? We have so much power as consumers, and this is one of the most important ways we can use it.

How We Prioritize Local at Way of Being

We knew from the very beginning that we wanted local to be front and center for our brand in order to reduce waste from carbon emissions and support our communities, which is why we’ve prioritized sourcing from vendors who are based and ship as close to home as we can get while still meeting our quality standards. (We are located in Portland, OR.)

It has also been important to us to make sure you know where each of your products are coming from when you buy them, so we share information about the vendor and where they’re based in every product description in an effort to be as transparent as possible. Find out more about our values and priorities here!



  1. Mass.Gov
  2. Institute for Local Self Reliance
  3. European Environment Agency
  4. The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
  5. Forbes

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