Equity and Local Economy: The Second Principle of a Bioregional Lifestyle

This post is the second in a series exploring ten principles of bioregional living and spotlighting a fellow Cascadian who embodies each principle.

“Creating bioregional economies that support equity and diverse local employment and international fair trade.”

“Buy Local” signs or stickers are in the window of some shops you walk by. Maybe you have seen an advertisement for the local Sunday farmers market. No matter how big or small the city you live in, local goods and services are always available. Even in the face of large corporations and international businesses, a local mom and pop shop is always right around the corner. But why?

What Does Equity and Local Economy Mean To Cascadia?

Let’s start off by defining a couple of terms.

Equity is the practice of fairness in business and being impartial.

Local economy is the consumption and distribution of goods and services at a domestic and local level, rather than international trade. So basically, living bioregional from a business standpoint involves understanding the importance and impact of buying locally. Practicing equity and local economy will help us further the Cascadia bioregional goal of cultivating a sustainable community.

Why is This Important?

Economic Value

Local businesses are the foundation of our economy. They give our country its backbone in times of crisis when international businesses face hardship. Additionally, 58%of the private sector workforce are employed by small and medium sized businesses, meaning that local economy plays a vital role in job production.

In addition, local consumption means that more money remains in circulation close to home, rather than being spread out across the world. This is good news for us. The New Economics Foundation found that when people consumed locally rather than from large chain stores, twice the money remained in the community.

The number one objection to local consumption is that it is too expensive. This excuse becomes thwarted by the money that is returned through increased employment, and the local circulation of money.  

Community and Diversity

Big chain businesses keep their prices low by offering competitive prices compared to their competition. This also means that they perform large scale production of all the same stuff to meet the demand, resulting in little choice and diversity regarding goods to purchase. Lack of diversity also means little personal expression and cultural connectedness within a community. Local business helps people feel more connected to their community, which increases engagement.

What About the Fair Trade?

According to Fairtrade International, “Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers.”

Fairtrade helps developing nations who are trying to develop their own local economy succeed in the face of large corporations that makes it difficult for them to compete. So even though it is not technically local economy, it is helping build local economy for nations struggling against giant businesses. We talked with Amy Martin from Pura Vida Coffee about their work in Fairtrade, and why they find it so important.

Amy Martin from Pura Vida Coffee

Pura Vida Coffee is a fair trade and organic coffee company headquartered in Seattle, WA.

Their mission is to help the growers of their beans improve their quality of life by paying a fair price for high quality beans, donating to Fair Trade USA, and through their Create Good Foundation. Passion for people and the environment drives their commitment to equity and fostering local economy.

We had the chance to talk with Marketing Analyst, Amy Martin, about Pura Vida’s mission and core values.

When asked why Pura Vida values sustainability, Martin says, “We believe having a successful business model and a great cause revolve around supporting sustainability through Fair Trade. Sustainability in the sense of consistent sourcing, building relationships with the coffee farmers we buy from, high quality and environmentally friendly sourcing, ensuring the quality of the beans are up to standard as well as shade grown and organic to help preserve the environment, and lastly giving back to the communities we purchase our beans from, supporting fair treatment, infrastructure projects, and community engagement.”

The company is very proud of the difference they have made in the lives of others. We asked about the difference Fairtrade is making.

“Our funds have helped communities to build new infrastructures, update equipment, install water filtration systems, and give back specifically to at-risk children focusing on their quality of education and life” Martin said.

Pura Vida also recognizes the value in helping build local economy and fair trade due to competition with large businesses.

Martin told us, “Fair Trade not only ensures farmers are paid above market price for high quality beans, but it gives back a minimum 20 cents per pound of coffee bought. Same goes for the environment. Purchasing Fair Trade, organic, shade grown coffee promotes less water pollution and an overall safer workplace environment for our farmers with no chemicals or heavy machinery.”

 Amy Martin representing Pura Vida
Amy Martin representing Pura Vida

To learn more about Pura Vida Coffee’s Create Good Foundation, go HERE.

To access Pura Vida Coffee’s Fairtrade starter information, go HERE.

Stay tuned for the third principle of bioregional living: Culture and Community by Mariah Edwards-Heflin.

Mariah is studying Communications at Seattle University. Her passion is helping others understand how to live a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. She also competes in bodybuilding and powerlifting. She also enjoys reading and meditation on rainy days, and hiking and gardening when the weather permits. Mariah looks forward to learning more about Cascadia and teaching others along the way.

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