Monday, May 12, 2008

Going local

I've been thinking a lot lately about my impact on my community and how to keep my money in my local area instead of spending it at corporately-owned stores where the money really only flows in one direction. I've also been thinking a lot about my health and what I eat, because despite being a vegetarian and slim, I don't really eat that well.

The two are somewhat related. I would like to make my actions match my philosophies a little bit more. I WANT to support local agriculture...but it's EASIER to buy whatever produce from the chain grocery store. I WANT to cook from scratch and make healthier meals...but it's EASIER to stop by a chain fast food place for a quick pick-me-up. I WANT to buy things from mom and pop stores, but it's EASIER to go to the big box, all-in-one-stop store and get everything at once.

I'm working on it. Maybe that will be my May challenge to myself--stop and think about what I'm spending and what I'm eating, and make sure they align with my values.

What really drove it home for me this past weekend was sending my mother flowers for Mother's Day. I went to one of the "big box" online florists and picked out something I liked (using a coupon code, of course) and went through all the steps of ordering it until I came to the final page, which gives the total price. The delivery charges were $30. That really seems excessive--my mom doesn't live in a major city, but she's only about a 20 minute drive from one, and I'm pretty sure there are florists in her smaller town as well (though I don't know if they work with FTD and 1-800 Flowers for sure).

I decided to do some digging around before I hit 'submit', and sure enough, I found a website that allows customers to find local florists and even order online without all the bogus delivery charges. I managed to pick out a much bigger and nicer arrangement with an $8 delivery fee for less than I would have paid through the major online florist--plus I was directly supporting a local business (I'm not sure they would have received even $8 of the $30 fee I'd have paid to the major online florist). PLUS, when I spoke with my mom yesterday, I found out that the flowers are incredibly fresh and beautiful--much nicer than what she normally gets when I use the major online florist. Better product, cheaper price, directly supporting local business--I'm pleased all around.


  1. Have you considered joining a CSA? They are absolutely amazing, from a financial and ethical point of view: you support small, local agriculture and get dirt-cheap, farm-fresh organic produce. There are dozens of them in New York, and I'm sure there's a pickup site near your office or your apartment--you can check out the full list at

  2. So what site did you use to locate the local florist? I tried that approach this year for my sister's birthday (sending flowers to the workplace has the added benefit of announcing to the world that it's your special day) and found myself dealing with a national-chain Web site's interface anyway. With the coupon code I would have saved about $1.

  3. mfaorbust, I have considered joining a CSA. There's a really popular one in my neighborhood, but the cost for me (a single person) and the amount of food they provide would cause me to waste food and money. I'm simply not home for dinner often enough to use all the vegetables I'd get. I've looked into doing a share and might do it next year if I can get things together enough to start at the beginning of a season.

    dancing monkey, I simply googled "florist" and the name of my parents town, and the first site was a local florist that provides online ordering (it looks like they're using some kind of service/template for their online ordering service, since I checked out several florists in the area and all their layouts looked alike. It might not work for every town, but I was very pleased.

    If I hadn't found a florist with an online ordering component, I would have called local florists and placed an order on the phone.


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