Article in The Albuquerque Tribune: Event draws awareness to sustainability, buying locally

Traveling from Albuquerque to Detroit for every meal would consume a lot of energy for little energy in return.

But that kind of trip – about 1,500 miles – is how far the components of a typical American meal are shipped before making it to the plate, said Warren Karlenzig, chief strategy officer with SustainLane, an online media company working for sustainable living.

The sustainable approach is based upon using the earth’s resources in a way that maintains them for future generations while promoting healthful living. It encompasses one’s decisions about all parts of life, including transportation, food and careers.

Karlenzig used the American meal example to show the efficiency of buying food from local farms, one of many types of local businesses to be highlighted during “Keep it Querque” Independents Week, which starts today and runs through Friday.

The event – launched by the Albuquerque Independent Business Alliance – will draw attention to the importance of supporting Albuquerque’s locally owned, independent businesses, said Roby Wallace, president of the business alliance.

“Spending our money with local companies – it is more efficient in terms of where we get our products from and where we get our services from,” Wallace said. “The whole concept of having a strong local economy means we can survive and we’re buffered against dramatic effects in the broader global economy. We’re more sustainable if we have businesses here and we support them.”

A strong local economy is especially important as energy costs – including the cost of fuels that make traveling long distances quick and feasible – rise, Karlenzig said.

“The economy that outsources everything or that is dependent on everything from the global supply chain will be much more susceptible to volatile price swings,” he said. “(In) a number of cases, the local or regional options are just as good or better from a cost perspective than the global ones. That’s only going to become the case more and more as oil prices go up.”

He pointed out that spending money at local businesses also sends money to the local community instead of to companies based out of the state.

“Instead of your money going to corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., or overseas, it stays recirculating in the local economy,” he said. “There are some relatively easy local purchasing choices to be made in areas like food, which reduces transportation impacts.”

City Councilor Isaac Benton said he often shops at La Montañita Co-op Natural Foods Markets, a cooperative that sells locally raised products.

He’ll do the same during Independents Week as part of contest with three city councilors seeing who can spend the most on locally owned businesses.

“We need to . . . encourage and remind our citizens to support local businesses because local business dollars stay in the community, they circulate again and again. The more we buy locally, the better off our local economy is,” he said.

FACTBOX: READY?

Albuquerque ranked 19th in a June study from SustainLane (www.sustainlane.com) that looked at the self-sustainabilty of the 50 largest U.S. cities.

The ranking was based on factors that included a clean environment, affordable transportation, support for alternative energy and a robust local economy.

Here are the most- and least-prepared cities for the future:

Most-prepared:

1. Portland, Ore.
2. San Francisco
3. Seattle
4. Philadelphia
5. Chicago

Least-prepared:

46. Fort Worth, Texas
47. Mesa, Ariz.
48. Virginia Beach, Va.
49. Oklahoma City
50. Columbus, Ohio

Source: SustainLane (www.sustainlane.com)

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