Shop locally

Row of Victorian small Shops with flats above

Local Shops in Pontcanna Street, Cardiff. Photo: Chris Brown, Cardiff Friends of the Earth

Before you head off to the local supermarket, think about taking advantage of what your local shops have to offer.

Real choice with real service

If you start shopping locally you will be surprised by the things you find that you don't get in the supermarket. Try out locally grown apples, home made ice cream, east European biscuits or regional beers.

But it is not just about food. Independent shops on the high street are likely to offer a greater choice of books, handicrafts, hardware, magazines or music.

You'll also find a much more personal service that's in tune with your local community. And if they don't have something, ask for it. They might just go the extra mile and make a special order for you.

Local shops are good value

Research by Friends of the Earth and The New Economics Foundation found that fresh, healthy food is often more expensive in supermarkets than in local shops and markets.

Keep your local neighbourhood buzzing

Nearly half of all UK towns are Clone towns. These are towns easily mistaken for dozens of other bland town centres across the UK with the same set of shops to choose from. Communities that keep their local shops have more character and find that far more money stays in the community. This is why shopping local can make a big difference. Local shops provide jobs and tend to support farmers and producers in your local area.

Helping to tackle climate change

We can all help tackle climate change and using your local shops is an easy way to do it. We need to cut down on our carbon dioxide emissions and here's where local shops shine.

Local shops are more energy-efficient than big supermarkets. It would take more than 60 local greengrocers to match the carbon dioxide emissions from just one average superstore.

Local shops are much more likely to offer local food that hasn't been flown halfway across the world, so it arrives fresh in your basket without pumping a load of carbon dioxide emissions in transit. And you walk to the local shops instead of driving to the supermarket cutting traffic pollution.

The bottom line

Some towns have little choice of where to shop. But for many communities, their local shop is a lifeline. It's a huge loss to the community if it shuts down. It's a hard fact to swallow but in 2004 over 2,000 independent shops closed down or were taken over.

Big supermarkets are getting so dominant that smaller shops find it hard to compete.

The good news is that it's not too late to protect your neighbourhood's unique character. If you keep going back to use your local shops, you'll be helping them stay afloat.

Is Cardiff a clone town?