With the increase of globalization and the need for sustainability, the debate that has arisen among consumers is – are locally-made products preferable to imported goods? There are a lot of passionate proponents and detractors on both sides. It can get confusing for the most discerning consumer to make a choice. Fortunately, it is a choice, often one that can be made on a personal level, which means that there is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to purchasing local or imported consumer goods.
However, to help you make a decision that is clear and right for you, this article will delve into the different aspects of the local vs. import debate.
1. COMMUNITY BUILDING
Perhaps one of the best arguments for buying local is that by doing so, you are supporting your local businesses and enterprising neighbours. This helps to build strong resilient communities, which, in turn, confers many side benefits to community residents. Buying local products helps to generate and keep wealth within the local area, thereby lifting the economy and enabling the community, as a whole, to prosper. Purchasing imported goods essentially removes money from the community and shifts it overseas to the manufacturer.
2. CONSUMER EMPOWERMENT
Another compelling argument for locally-made products is that it is easier to get to know the manufacturer of the product, and therefore, easier to give them direct feedback about their product or service. Since there is a more direct relationship between seller and buyer, it is possible for the buyer to influence the seller regarding product design, production, and quality.
For example, if you know the farmer who grows your vegetables, then you are empowered to find out more about the food and make a better consumer choice. You can find out how the produce is grown, what inputs are added to it, and also whether or not it was organically grown. It is harder to do that with products imported from overseas, because there are a host of middlemen involved in bringing that product to the storefront, and you are too far removed from the basic knowledge about the products you consume.
Importing trade items has historically been humanity’s way to obtain goods that were not available in their immediate area. In that way, consumers are presented with greater purchasing choice, which can enhance their quality of life. For that reason, importing from China has become much more popular for both choice and cost-effectiveness.
However, a common mistake made in our modern economy is to substitute goods that can be made locally, with similar items imported from elsewhere. The reasonable solution to this is to only import those items you can’t get locally, and always support local suppliers when you can.
4. FOREIGN RELATIONS
Being an importer of foreign goods can be a powerful vehicle for a nation to influence the actions and policies of their neighbours. For example, Western countries often use their purchasing power as a persuasion to other countries to reform their human rights records, or change their economic policies. Obviously, buying locally confers no such power over other nations, although it does make one’s own nation immune to similar pressures and builds a strong sense of communit