Here’s a twist! A New Retail Sourcing Mantra. Think Globally Source Locally!

November 18th, 2008

Among many reasons to sourcing more of your retail products locally could be that it is good for the environment.

Among many reasons to sourcing more of your retail products locally could be that it is good for the environment.

Many of you may be aware of the often used quote “Think Globally, Act Locally” which was reportedly coined by David Brower, founder of FOE or Friends of the Earth. Others have attributed it to Rene Dubos an advisor to the United Nations Conference of the Human Environment. Regardless of who said it, there are varieties of reasons to reconsider sourcing more of your products locally…

Environmental sustainability is becoming more and more important in the executive suite of major U.S. Corporations. Many have launched specific Corporate Social Responsibility programs as an innovative approach to reducing their carbon footprint and that of their trading partners. Sourcing more products locally can be a major contributor to these programs.

Less than six months ago when oil prices hit their apex, many companies began to consider sourcing more locally due to the increase in transportation costs. Some companies went as far as having their containers recycled and melted down because the cost of shipping them back to the Far East was just too expensive. What many do not realize is that carbon dioxide emissions from shipping are double those of aviation and increasing at an alarming rate which will have a serious impact on global warming according to research by the industry and European academics.
One international company’s study indicated that their carbon footprint came from four main areas. The second largest area was ocean freight at 23 percent. Additionally researchers at the Institute for Physics and Atmosphere in Wessling, Germany reveal that annual emissions from shipping range between 600 and 800m tonnes of carbon dioxide, or up to 5% of the global total. This is nearly double Britain’s total emissions and more than all African countries combined.

To be sure, most countries have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol which establishes legally binding commitments for the reduction of six greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, hydro fluorocarbons and others and are working with international companies to insure reductions. However, beyond the benefit of better pricing, the emissions issues associated with ocean freight shipping should provide additional incentive to North American based retailers to look within the NAFTA trade area for product alternatives to those sourced from areas that require ocean bound freight.

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