The Economics of Happiness

6 Jan

Why buy local? It’s good for the economy. It’s good for the community. It’s good for the environment. Oh, and by the way, it can make you happier.

That’s the premise of a new documentary, The Economics of Happiness, that drives home the importance of “localization.” We all know that globalization has radically transformed where we get our goods and how we shop. It has also, the directors argue, brought the world to the brink of environmental and economic catastrophe by creating an unsustainable system of obscene waste and a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking.

The solution? Bring our economies back home. Localization, as defined in the film, is essentially a process of de-centralisation–shifting economic activity back into the hands of local businesses instead of concentrating it in fewer and fewer mega-corporations. The film’s directors view localization as a “strategic solution multiplier” that solves multiple problems: “In order to respect and revitalize diversity, both cultural and biological, we need to localize economic activity . . . . A systemic shift-–away from globalizing economic activity and towards the local-–is an almost magic formula that allows us to reduce our ecological footprint while increasing human well-being . . . [by helping] us to re-discover those essential relationships-–both with the living world and with one another-–that ultimately give our lives meaning and joy.”

So what should we be doing here in Jacksonville to be part of the solution? The folks at GoLO believe the first step is to rebuild a sense of reliance on what’s available locally–whether it’s food, handmade goods, or simply a store that’s in close proximity rather than a long car ride away. Simply by remembering–and taking advantage of–what’s available in our own backyards, we strengthen our local communities.

Of course, we recognize that we’ll rarely be able to buy everything we need or use from exclusively local independent businesses. But by thinking local FIRST–looking first to local and locally owned sources for the things we need and want–we can maximize the impact of our daily actions and purchasing decisions.

It’s a small step, really, but a big one for the future of the communities we love–not to mention the planet itself.

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