Supporting local artisans, artists and craftspeople
Supporting local artisans, artists and craftspeople

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Toward a more sustainable, balanced market

Supporting local artisans, artists and craftspeople

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In 2021 Amazon’s total net sales revenue came to 469.82 billion U.S. dollars.  Here we are at the beginning of 2023, and it is listed as the world’s second largest company by Fortune Global 500, topped only by Walmart.

Supporting local artisans shifts demand toward a more sustainable, balanced market. It tackles the problems of mass production, overconsumption and unsafe working conditions and leads towards a more ethical model of consumption.

Why support local artisans and craftspeople?

Independent local business owners and craftspeople pay taxes locally 

They therefore support the local community's access to health care and education rather than multi-national companies.

Products handcrafted by artisans are of superior quality and often customizable

The wares are made individually by a highly skilled, passionate craftsperson rather than mass produced on a factory line.  As the quality of the materials and the craftmanship of the artisan dictate the quality of the final product, often hand made products are higher quality than their industrial counterparts.  They are built to last, not until the next upgrade is available.

Creators usually know the best places to buy high-quality raw materials and usually choose trusted sources as locally as possible.   

What’s more, individually made products are one-of-a -kind and can often be customized or even tailor made, resulting in a unique product which will last the user a lifetime.

Locally made goods reduce transport pollution and the global carbon footprint

In 2020 statistica reported that transport had produced approximately 7.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions worldwide that year. The power industry and industrial combustion ranked as the highest CO2 polluters, but transport came a close third. 

In 2019 the European Environment Agency reported that emissions from shipping and aviation were the only types of transport pollution to worsen since 1990.  

In short - we should be looking seriously at reducing fossil fuels and using renewable energy in the transportation sector and whether long haul transport of goods is necessary.  

Local businesses create local employment and often use locally sourced raw materials

Merchandise is made with a shorter production chain which supports the local economy and creates better job opportunities for people.  

Raw materials are usually sourced from trusted people as locally as possible to reduce transport costs and ensure quality - therefore the supply-chain is generally flatter and fairer than that of mass-production.

Keeping money within the local community ensures living standards

Avoiding financial 'leakage' away from local hands to multinationals secures sustainable incomes and livelihoods. It also protects traditions, flora and fauna as locals are aware their livelihoods depend on them. 

Furthermore, if the creator sources or sells locally it becomes an economically sustainable business, allowing other local businesses to compete and thrive. You can read more about supporting the local economy in our last blog post.

Locally handmade goods are more sustainable and ethical

Creators often produces in small series and avoid over production, limiting waste and unethical sourcing.  

As the production team is usually composed of one or, maximum, a handful of people, the risk of socially irresponsible manufacturing (forced or child labour or health and safety concerns) is almost zero.  

Climate change and societal issues - the global impact of supporting local

The Climate Change 2022 Report from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPP) reports that poor communities living in developing countries are the most vulnerable to the negative effects of global warming (chapter 8). They detail robust evidence that local livelihoods are, and will continue to be, the hardest hit by global climate hazards like flooding, drought and rising temperatures in general. 

It's not all doom and gloom though, as the same report indicates evidence that inclusive and sustainable development at the local level can reduce vulnerability.  Further quantitative evidence shows that, rather than simply adapting to warmer levels, adaptation strategies should aim to reduce human vulnerability independent of a specific climate related hazard. Those which address poverty and inequality can build vulnerable groups' resilience and aid sustainable development.  

But how can we tackle inequality, help sustainable development and reduce vulnerabilty both at home and abroad? 

One possibility is to try to keep expenditure as local as possible, avoiding 'financial leakage' from local communities away to multi-national companies who actually enforce inequalities.  You can read more about supporting the local economy on holiday here.  

How can we find locally made products on holiday?

Language barriers, lack of local knowledge and time - it's not always easy to find locally handmade goods at home, but it's even trickier on holiday.  Here are a few things you can do to support local people while you find the perfect gifts or souvenirs.

1. Ask locals where you can find shops and local fairs supporting local artisans.  

2.  Use the bilingual directory natifcreatif to easily find local artists, artisans, craftsmen and women near you in just a few clicks!  

3.  Look at the label. Where was the product made? What are the ingredients?

4.  Ask the sales person about the raw materials, sourcing and production chain. How much of the money goes to the artisan? Is there a middle-man? Will your purchase support the local community?

5.  Employ a local guide who knows all the hidden locally-made gems.

How can we support local artisans and creators on holiday or at home?

As we've seen, buying handcrafted merchandise (or otherwise supporting artist makers) supports local economies and communities ethically and sustainably as well as reducing carbon emmissions.  

But if you don't have time to go to craft shows, local fairs or boutiques run by cooperatives, here is a list of little things you can do in your everyday life or weekly shopping:

1. Like and share any social media posts, a little click for you will go a long way for a small business.  Endorse their products and classes by leaving positive online reviews.

2. Avoid stereotypical bargains at markets which are produced to feed idealized souvenirs for tourists.

3. Look for the fair trade label. If you are not buying directly from the artisan, the fair trade certification will put your mind at ease where ethics are concerned.  It ensures that the producers are paid a fair living wage and safe working conditions. It also prohibits harmful or toxic chemicals in the production chain.

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