Shop locally - shopping miles

Mushrooms and cherries for sale at a market

What are shopping miles?

Shopping miles are a measure of the energy and pollution associated with moving whatever it is you're buying from its source to your retailer or home. These miles can quickly add up, especially where the raw materials used to produce the item are sent to another country before being assembled and then distributed. With a little thought you can reduce your shopping miles, minimising energy expenditure and emissions that contribute to climate change.

Top 5 tips to reduce your shopping miles

1. Grow your own food

With a small amount of space you can start a balcony garden, a wall garden or an indoor garden, and don't forget your local community garden. By growing your own food you will eliminate all packaging, plus the energy expenditure and emissions associated with transportation of food. You'll also save money.

2. Shop locally

Buying locally, from clothing to groceries to books, will support the local economy and employment, and minimise energy expenditure and emissions associated with transport. Buying Australia-made – or where possible, Victoria-made – means fewer miles travelled, so less pollution associated with climate-change.

3. Buy seasonal produce

Choosing food that is in season reduces the demand for produce that's out of season, supports local farming and businesses, and reduces transportation and refrigeration associated with the food (food miles). For the freshest, most nutritional produce, buy food that was grown or made locally.

4. Rethink online purchases

Online shopping is a convenient way to shop, but what about the shopping miles associated with it? Where did the raw materials come from? Where was the product assembled? Where is the warehouse that is sending it to you? And what about all of that packaging? Online shopping for fashion can be even more problematic, in that you might send it back it you don't like it or it doesn't fit. If online shopping is unavoidable, think about buying in bulk rather than one item at a time. Choose carefully and consider gifting items that aren't quite right, where possible. And remember to recycle any packaging.

5. Walk, cycle or catch public transport when shopping

Walking, cycling or catching public transport when you shop will reduce your shopping miles and help you get some exercise. It also makes sense to plan your shopping trip before you go, to ensure you get as much done in one trip as possible.

Other ways to shop sustainably

Every time we purchase a product or service – gifts, food, fashion, a property, appliances, a hot water system and our energy suppliers – we have the option to shop sustainably. Decide on an area that's important to you and start making a difference through your choices.


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