A monthly column by Jeanie McKillop, Business Waste Reduction Coordinator with the North East Waste Forum

One way in which the community and business can help the environment is by consciously choosing where they buy their goods and services.

Buying what you need from you local area can really make a difference by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced when you drive out of the region to purchase goods.

If you choose to buy an item that is grown or produced locally or regionally, even better, as you reduce the carbon produced in transporting goods from faraway places.

Buying from overseas in our current climate can be a very unsustainable practice.

The success of ‘100 mile cafes’ and events where all goods and services are purchased from within a 100-mile radius demonstrates that it is possible and desirable to buy locally.

There are many ways to avoid carbon miles — from walking to the shops to growing your own vegies.

For many of us this is impractical, but we can still try to make informed decisions to reduce the distance that goods are transported from producer to consumer.

I have found local businesses to be competitive on price, particularly when you consider the cost of petrol and your time if you drive out of the region to source a ‘bargain’.

Farmers markets or buying from shops that sell local produce is another way to buy food that has avoided the city market and distribution centres.

I once heard a story of an avocado grown here that went via Brisbane markets, Sydney distribution centres and back to the Northern Rivers for sale.

Also, when businesses buy from each other, they foster a real sense of support and community.

Partnerships are formed and the viability of small business is increased.

In a country where small towns and villages have begun to look the same — sprouting the same multinational corporate logos — a competitive advantage will increasingly come to places that have a sense of individualism and identity.

Let’s make the Northern Rivers one of those places.