Supporting your local shops and services reduces the need to travel, particularly by car. Besides reducing the lack of choices faced by those without easy access to cars, such as those who are young, old, disabled or socially disadvantaged local shops and services provide a place for people to meet on an everyday basis. Using local services like hairdressers, garages and decorators secures a range of local jobs. Similarly it can reduce the distance people need to travel to get to or do their work, thereby helping reduce the amount of motor traffic.
Relocalisation not only saves on travel costs but also keeps spending power in local communities, helping maintain their vitality, diversity and resilience of your local area. There are similar benefits for using local produce, particularly food. As much as a third of lorry trips are estimated to be transporting food but it’s not just food from far away. There are plenty of horror stories, such as the Devon clotted cream being sent via a distribution centre in Bristol to a shop just a few miles from the farm it was produced. So it’s not just about where something is from but the wider economic, social and environmental relationships between producer and consumer.
CPRE’s Mapping Local Food Webs project looks at these issues in more detail and includes a local food toolkit. Plugging the leaks is a project by the New Economics Foundation that looks into the benefits of local trade.