live. love. local.

The push for supporting more local businesses has grown rapidly over the years. Eat Lafayette, Shop Lafayette, Small Business Saturday, etc. What's all the fuss about?

Supporting local businesses, both small and large, benefits the local economy and has a bigger impact on it than chain stores do. More of your money will stay local, especially if you support businesses that buy their goods and services from OTHER local companies. 

Many local restaurants are also eco-friendly, from using locally sourced ingredients to being truly farm to table, and serving local craft beer.

For example, local restaurant La Pizzeria sources their meat and seafood from local farmers. So when you eat there, your money also helps those farmers make money.

Local restaurant Hook and Boil gets their crawfish supply from a family pond in Crowley. All of 30 miles down the road!

But these are far from the only two restaurants! We've got local restaurants everywhere, and South Louisiana has some of the best food you can find...why NOT go local and sustainable?

You may have heard the term locavore before, or maybe you haven't...What's it mean? A person who eats local food, from produce to seafood to meat, even to locally made sauces and spices. Eating locally also helps save on fuel and transportation. If your food only has 20 miles to travel, compared to 1,500, it saves tons of fuel every day.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather to serve as suggestions. Here are some other ways you can support local businesses and products are:

Visiting your local farmers market. Many times, you can meet with the farmers themselves, and you know you're getting fresh, clean produce (or eggs or meat or fish). Lafayette's got two weekly farmers markets, one in the Oil Center and one at the Horse Farm, so you're bound to find what you're looking for! Bigger cities have huge farmers markets (and I have starry eyes dreaming of making it to a huge market one weekend!) And if you can't make it to the farmers market, try a local produce market next, like Fresh Pickins here in Lafayette!

Shirt from Parish Ink and necklace from Red Arrow Workshop

Support locally owned businesses. From grocery stores (if you're in Abbeville, head to Robie's and get the homemade spicy chicken salad. Thank me later.) to clothing and shoe boutiques to hardware stores to mechanics to radio stations, every town has locally owned and operated shops. You can find everything you need, and prices are comparable.

But even if prices are sometimes a little higher, it's a better investment to make! You also get to know the owners and workers at the shops, and those customer relationships can be beneficial in many ways. Plus, it's fun to personally know the people who run the businesses!

Support locally made goods. From goat cheese to candles to jewelry, home goods and music, there are tons of creative people in and around Lafayette. Visit Lafayette's second-Saturday ArtWalk to check out local art and shop local jewelry and other crafts, or check out shops like the Sans Souci Gift Gallery.

Get involved and volunteer with local eco organizations. From Project Front Yard to Keep Lafayette Beautiful to the TECHE Project to Bayou Vermilion Preservation Association, there are tons of ways you can get involved.

Your next big chances to volunteer around Acadiana are with Festival International in one of many areas (including recycling) and with Project Front Yard's big Trash Bash!

Wherever you live, find which organizations are in your city!

When you travel, support local businesses in the city you're visiting. One of my favorite things about traveling is immersing myself in the culture of the area. Whether you're traveling for work or for fun, visit popular local restaurants, or find a local gift shop for your souvenirs. Rent a bicycle from a local shop for alternative transportation. You'll get a more authentic and unique trip!

When we went to San Francisco in 2013, we rented bikes and did a winery tour from a local bike shop, and whenever we dined out, we chose local spots that had amazing food. I still remember the awesome mushroom sandwich from Saturn Cafe in Berkeley!

When at Festival International, shop the vendor tents. So many of the vendors at Festival are local merchants selling handmade goods. Some vendors travel in from out of state, but their goods are still locally produced in their town and are unique. You'll certainly find unique items...I know I've got a lot of jewelry and art from past Festivals that I still have and love.

Next week I'll be sharing my Eco Cajun Guide to Festival, including ways to GEAUX GREEN!

As Michelle from Dixie Lust says:
"Lafayette has so much to do because people support local ventures and events. Lafayette is able to constantly come up with new ideas for events and programs because people not only support the events themselves, but they financially support the ventures that the creatives use to support themselves. Yes, it's eco-friendly and yes, it's unique. But moreso, it's investing in the future of Lafayette."
Wherever you live, invest in your city's economy and future and support local businesses!

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