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Forming a Shopping Cooperative

A great way to keep costs of food bills and for that matter all purchases is by forming a buying co-operative for you and your friends. A shopping or buying cooperative can not only save you money, but can also ensure that what and where you buy can uphold an ideal that your group of members might believe in. Things like having a sustainable and Earth friendly approach to your shopping. Or limiting purchases from foreign or multi-national companies, or avoiding companies that exploit labour by using sweat shop style conditions or child labour.

Many people believe that they are too small to make any difference. Many people have health, religious or moral issues, determining what they buy from a store. Well by forming or joining a buying co-operative allows you to have an influence at a local level. You'll have influence on what your local store stocks. How many times have you found out that the store no longer stocks foods that you like or even are essential to your diet or beliefs.The reason given by the department manager usually is an economic one. By joining together pressure can be brought upon the store to look after your requirements. It's called purchase power, the language of managers world wide.

The shopping/ food co-operative, can also go directly to the farmer or market. Avoiding all together the distrubution chains. Food Co-operatives benefit the farmers. They are hard presed by the food chains to keep their costs at unsustainable levels in the promise of continued sales ahead. This puts pressure on the farmers to increase yields, relying on fertilizers and over utilization and degredation of the land. Not to mention the uptake of genetically modified crops.


1. You get to buy in bulk.
resulting in less packaging and lower costs.

2. Avoid excessive packaging.
use reusable shopping bags cutting down on costs and landfill. All packaging costs are passed onto the consumer at some point.

3. Impulse buying.
Because you are buying for the co-op, impulse buying is cut down. Most of us can't resist tempting items strategically placed at eye level or on the counter. Your shopping trips are more planned.

4. CSA programs.
By joining a Community supported agriculture or (CSA) programs you'll be able to have access to organically grown food. Farmers can specialize in high quality produce rather than catering to the large retailers. Farmers will drop off your orders or a run to the country can be great once every month or so.

5. Community gardens.
With ever increasing landspace taken up for development, community gardens are gaining popularity. These allow those of us who live in shared complexes to get and have our own piece of garden. These are great for growing vegetables, flowers and just providing a catalyst for community development. The recreational benefits are great.

6. Buy In-season Local Produce.
By doing this you support the local industry. The costs are lower than importing produce from other areas and the taste is usually better. Avoiding the premature picking and artificial ripening of imported foods. Remember that all trucked in food creates more road usage, traffic noise and congestion and air pollution across the country.

7. Do online research first
Before making any purchase do thorough research online. Internet has a wealth of information on just about any topic, always do research so you are well informed about the product in question. For example, if you are looking to purchase a new purse, visit a site a site that deals with handbags.

8. Avoid Sweatshops and Child Labor.
Try and avoid suspected companies and their products. You may think that you are getting a bargain but the social costs are enormous resulting in local and or underpaid employment.

9. Patronize Local Restaurants.
keep out of the multi national outlets when possible. The food is usually better in the small local restaurants in any case. The owners have a direct stake in the local community and they usually buy their produce locally casting their job net wider in your region.

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