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Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and has compiled some key studies on local store vs chainstore impact on local economics.

Of interest from a study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Friends of Midcoast Maine, September 2003.: “Three times as much money stays in the local economy when you buy goods and services from locally owned businesses instead of large chain stores, according to this analysis, which tracked the revenue and expenditures of eight locally owned businesses in Midcoast Maine. The survey found that the businesses, with had combined sales of $5.7 million in 2002, spent 44.6 percent of their revenue within the surrounding two counties. Another 8.7 percent was spent elsewhere in the state of Maine. The four largest components of this local spending were: wages and benefits paid to local employees; goods and services purchased from other local businesses; profits that accrued to local owners; and taxes paid to local and state government. Using a variety of sources, the analysis estimates that a national big box retailer operating in Midcoast Maine returns just 14.1 percent of its revenue to the local economy, mostly in the form of payroll. The rest leaves the state, flowing to out-of-state suppliers or back to corporate headquarters. The survey also found that the local businesses contributed more to charity than national chains.”

And in The San Francisco Retail Diversity Study – By Civic Economics, May 2007: “Every $1 million spent at local bookstores, for example, creates $321,000 in additional economic activity in the area, including $119,000 in wages paid to local employees. That same $1 million spent at chain bookstores generates only $188,000 in local economic activity, including $71,000 in local wages. The same was true in the other categories. For every $1 million in sales, independent toy stores create 2.22 local jobs, while chains create just 1.31. The final part of the study analyzes the impact of a modest shift in consumer spending. If residents were to redirect just 10 percent of their spending from chains to local businesses, that would generate $192 million in additional economic activity in San Francisco and almost 1,300 new jobs.”

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The Revolver wind turbine by  Frog Design set up is a snap and produces up to 35 W so you can charge up your portable electronic devices while camping or in other remote locations.

 

Read more.

Via:  Rahul Gupta at Ecofriend.com

 

This is a wonderful chart from 1bog.org (One block Off the Grid)

 

Really have you ever thought about how much land you would need to meet all your family’s calorie needs for a year. This is a great chart.

 

1bog.org is an inventive group that can help you find the most cost-effective way to have solar power. One Block Off the Grid makes it easier and more affordable for homeowners to go solar by organizing group discounts, vetting solar installers, and providing you with objective information and advice along the way. Our solar advisors don’t work on commission. Their salary is the same whether you end up going solar or not, so the information you receive from One Block Off the Grid is always 100 percent unbiased.

Hat Tip: William Spear

 

 

 

 

 

Your Ecological Footprint

August 4, 2011

 

 

Do you know how large your ecological footprint is? Are you interested in lowering your footprint?

Look no further. The Center For Sustainable Ecology has put together a good quiz with wonderful information about all aspects of our lifestyles and possible changes we can make.

I took the quiz and found out that if everyone lived as my family does (which I thought was very frugally and consciously) we would still require more than one earth to sustain the lifestyle. It isn’t fair to the rest of the world to take such a large share of things.

The Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis. After answering 27 easy questions you’ll be able to compare your Ecological Footprint to others’ and learn how to reduce your impact on the Earth.

Flash Mob? Crop Mob!

July 24, 2011

Farming is traditionally a physical and labor intensive endeavor. In the past, community efforts were often necessary for planting, harvesting, processing, including barn-raising and house-raising. Modern day farming has become mechanized enabling  farmers to “do it alone”. A lonely career. Through resurgence of smaller farming initiatives a wonderful community spirit has emerged. People are participating in CSA’s and organic and local farmers are recognized in their communities and are well-received at local farmer’s markets.

Enter the Crop Mob movement. A group of 19 farmers, apprentices and friends in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) began to work together to harvest sweet potatoes at the Piedmont Biofarm. They have made it a tradition and out of that tradition has grown to over 50 groups throughout the US. Find your local group on the map.

From the Crop Mob website:

“Many crop mobbers are apprentices or interns on these sustainable farms. The need for community participation matches a desire for community among young people interested in getting into farming. The crop mob was conceived as a way of building the community necessary to practice this kind of agriculture and to put the power to muster this group in the hands of our future food producers.

Any crop mobber can call a crop mob to do the kind of work it takes a community to do. We work together, share a meal, play, talk, and make music. No money is exchanged. This is the stuff that communities are made of.”

For more information, please send an email to info@cropmob.org. And check them out on facebook.

 

VIA: Kay Carroll, Market Master, Litchfield Farmer’s Market

Transition Town Movement

July 21, 2011



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There are communities all over the world who are coming together with optimistic and infectious energy to create vital and lasting change for the good of all under the umbrella of The Transition movement. Transition Towns is about communities around the world responding to peak oil and climate change with creativity, imagination and humour, and setting about rebuilding their local economies and communities. It is positive, solutions focused, viral and fun. You can find out if there is a town in action near you from the US-based website or the global website. Or, you can start your own group!

These slides are from the film: Transition 1o1. Check it out.

 

What toxic chemicals are lurking under the kitchen sink or at the back of the shelf in the basement or even in plain view on your bathroom countertop? This is a photo of what I found in my house.

Since it is Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day in I have been scouring the house and garage for corrosives, flammables and poisons in my home. I consider my family to be conscientious about NOT bringing hazardous materials into the house but I surprised myself with the items I collected in 10 minutes of searching.

Many items we use and discard with our trash are actually similar to EPA regulated hazardous wastes that are generated by industries that make the products we buy and use. Maybe we shouldn’t be throwing so much toxic waste away, since there is no such thing as away.

In the kitchen: oven cleaners, drain cleaner, floor-care, soaps and cleansers

In the bathroom: toilet cleaner, cosmetics, hair color, aerosol deodorant, nail polish remover

In the laundry: spot removers, chlorine bleach, spray starch, softeners, brighteners

General: pool chemicals, paint strippers, glue, furniture polish, air fresheners, metal cleaners, paint/stain/varnish, turpentine, paint thinner, wood preservatives, ammonia cleaners, moth balls and flakes

Cars: gasoline, antifreeze, brake/transmission fluid, solvents and degreaser

Lawn and Garden: insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, weed killers, flea and tick powder

Why is household hazardous waste a problem? At home accidental burns, poisoning, or even death if not used, stored and disposed of properly. Septic systems and sewage plants are not designed to filter toxic materials. If you pour these things down the drain or in the sewer this can affect everyone’s water supply ultimately contaminating our rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound. Often solid waste is burned and if the waste has hazardous materials then the residue ends up in the air we breathe and the ash contaminates the ground water. Last but of course not least toxins in our water can affect fish and other wildlife.

I think I have reasons why I have some of the items I have, you might, too – for example, a few years back there was a huge hornets nest in the garbage shed, then it was useful again a few years later when there was another yellow jacket nest in the ground under the lilac tree outside the front door – so I thought we needed a spray to knock them out. But I still have half a canister. I also have paint thinner, pet odor attack and indoor house plant food, a few half empty spray paint cans left over from Josh’s graffiti days, charcoal starter fluid (don’t even have a charcoal grill…) and liquid ski wax (no one skis anymore).

What to do? Best solution? Don’t buy or use these things. Oh, no! No more nail polish and remover? Hmmm.

Well, anyway, we can begin to think about the products we bring into our homes. Can we do without something, or substitute a natural option? It is much easier to find non-toxic cleaners at your local grocery stores these days. Check out this list from ecomall.com and seventhgeneration.com and . Under my sink today I have products from Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, Bon Ami, CitriSolv and plain old vinegar.  Or make your own and make some more. Buy only what we need, use what we buy. Pass on partially used products to neighbors or friends who can use them.

Maybe we shouldn’t be throwing so much toxic waste away, since there is no such thing as away. I mean, where does our hazardous waste get stored or disposed of –  is there any place safe?

What we can do is keep all our hazardous products in one place and dispose of properly by taking to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day.

How to find one near you: Best to search on the internet under “Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day” and add your state and county. Here is a great informational site for the Twin Cities. There will be something near you, too.