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Content Writer at TAFE NSW

 The global economy is completely dependent on cheap oil and therefore unsustainable

It’s all about the ‘L’ word – local.

This seems to be at loggerheads with the ethos of our global economy. But there are many reasons, both practical and ethical, to buy local rather than imported goods.

For example, many small businesses employ TAFE graduates, which means by supporting these businesses you’re also supporting local entrepreneurs. Some of these businesses are even owned and operated by TAFE graduates. This is a great circular example of the large-scale investment in public education showing healthy returns for local communities and economies. It means the money stays within Australia.

Local goods and services tend to be much easier to deal with than large multinational corporations. When something goes wrong, products are usually covered with a warranty and have a return policy that can be utilized without turning into a logistic nightmare. After all, it’s much easier to deal with a company representative who’s in the same time zone.

There are also ethical reasons to shop local. Australia doesn’t rely on child and/or slave labour, which can be very common in some overseas countries, especially in industries such as manufacturing and fashion. And we’re lucky in Australia to have a minimum wage, which means your locally produced and bought product was probably made ethically.

But one of the most compelling reasons to shop local is also the simplest –  the global economy is completely dependent on cheap oil and therefore unsustainable.

No-one can predict with any certainly exactly when we will reach ‘peak oil’ (the point at which global oil production reaches its peak). However, industry leaders and analysts generally agree that this will occur some time between 2010 and 2030, and significantly more likely that it will occur before 2020.

In other words, right about now. Or in the next couple of years.

What will this mean? Oil will start to become very expensive. And this will affect transportation costs of goods. It means that an apple that’s been shipped across to your local supermarket from Japan (yes, that actually happens) will be noticeably more expensive than an apple that’s been grown locally and has required only a minimal amount of oil to get it to your supermarket.

So the shorter the production chain, the less oil involved. This on its own is a pretty good reason to buy local. You’ll be keeping industry alive and helping the planet at the same time.

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