The Trickle Down Effect - Benefits of buying locally and direct from artisans
In my last post I spoke about creating a circular economy by ‘voting with our dollar’ to support and preserve the work of skilled artisans. But what does this actually mean in terms of business? I grew up in a small country town where I could walk over to my neighbours to collect a bag of oranges and where walking down the street I could point out locals wearing shirts made by my grandmother. At the time, it wasn’t something that I really gave a second thought. Locals buying from locals was always encouraged, of course we still had major retailers like Coles and K-mart but this internal support system among the community was just second nature. Unknowingly however, this positive cycle of a circular economy became an essential part of my sense of belonging and has continued to act as a major influence on my lifestyle today.
To keep it simple a circular economy as defined by WRAP (an organisation that works toward the sustainable use of resources) is-
“An alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.”
The reason this works on a local level is because the transaction of products and services become more direct and not only do producers then hold greater accountability for there products but the process is made more transparent as well. This process allows the consumer to be sure that the money and benefits that come with buying locally will be injected back into the community without capitalisation from an unknown ‘middle man’.
In a panel discussion including Milk and Thistle founder Danielle Atkinson during this years Fashion Revolution week I was surprised to discover the challenges she and other local brands were having in maintaining local production. Unable to meet the demands that off shore production offer, local manufacturers are being forced to close down resulting in a loss of skilled workers and the loss of the regenerative economic system that allowed both the brand and the manufacturers to survive as a result of one another’s support.
While buying local may be the most obvious example of the creation of a circular economy, it is not limited to that. The idea behind the system is based on the fact that a single transaction can be witness to a multitude of benefits for not only the producer but for their family and community surrounding them. This is otherwise known as the trickle down effect and is a positive and empowering system that can also be used to encourage the growth of business in developing countries.
At the forefront of this movement is Japanese label People Tree. Founded in 1991 the brands mission is to be 100% Fair Trade throughout its supply chain, to support producers in the developing world and to protect the environment in everything that it does. People Tree works with skilled artisans all over the world as part of a development society to generate economic growth and overcome barriers that they might face in getting their products to the market. They act as the missing link between the artisans and the consumers to encourage conscious consumption and share and promote the positive effects that this direct relationship can have on creating a sustainable business model.
"Fair Trade doesn't just mean paying a fair price. It is an entirely different way of doing business."
Conscious consumption can benefit the lives of real people and their communities if we do it right and all it requires is for us to ask for greater transparency in our systems. Know where your money is going and who is benefiting from the transaction that is being made. Ask yourself - will it’s effects continue to trickle down the system even after I’ve forgotten about it?
WRAP and the circular economy | WRAP UK
What is a circular economy? A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.