Sustainable Habits

Shop local

June 10, 2021

A few weeks ago I talked a little about the Colonial Pipeline hack then a week or two after that there was a hack on a large meat company. I can't tell if hacks like these are happening more often or if normal people are just hearing about them more often but I do know is that they're not going away any time soon, both of these attacks were carried out by groups of Russian hackers who offer ransomware as a service. Several of these groups exist and due to the nature of the Russian government it is unlikely that many of them will be taken out in the near future. These hackers are among the things which have shown us how fragile the systems we rely on really are. The pandemic and crazy weather are a few other things which have done this as well.

So the question becomes "What are we supposed to do about this?" There is really noting we can do to fight these hackers but there are things which we can do to make sure that hacks like these and other unforeseen events don't terribly disrupt our lives. Preparedness is of course the most important thing we can strive for when major utilities are knocked out or at least become hard to obtain, we should have enough food, water, and fuel stored to last us in an emergency. But of course not every disaster will be a crisis at that scale. The meat hack really didn't threaten anyone's life but it still proved to be an inconvenience to many people.

Shopping Local

With the system as fragile as it is we need to strive to become less reliant on it. I've talked in the past about avoiding popular software and the same concepts I talked about there apply to supply chains as well, as they grow to be used by more and more people they become a bigger target for disaster. When it comes to power and fuel we have little choice in who we get it from, but when it comes to things like food there is really no reason for us to be reliant on a large corporation because they are the ones who are vulnerable.

We all should shop local when possible, a local supply chain is much more robust and environmentally sustainable than one that stretches a continent is. The grocery store that I buy most things at is a local one, they usually sell three or four different types of onions I used to always buy red onions which were about 70 cents a pound a year and a half ago back when the world was normal but now that gas is 30 to 60 percent more expensive around the country (when there isn't a shortage) the price of red onions has risen to $1.75 a pound two and a half times what it used to be, and the onions that used to be 60 cents a pound are now about $1.60 a pound, but interestingly the onions that used to be 50 cents a pound have only risen to 60 cents a pound. I haven't verified this but I think it is safe to assume that the onions which stayed cheap were the onions which were sourced locally since these are by far the cheapest onions in town and the fact that they are at the local grocery store.

Milk is another interesting thing here. There is a dairy headquartered about 45 minutes from where I live and it has a decent number of cows. If we lived in a world that made sense this dairy would be the main provider of milk and cheese in the area with a bit of competition from smaller ones in the area. But of course we don't live in a world that makes sense, if I walk into the Walmart here I will see a few hundred gallons of milk for sale but not one gallon that was sourced from the local dairy, instead they sell milk that was trucked in from the other side of the country. All the local stores and gas stations carry their milk, but in the best case it only accounts for 15% of what is on the shelf and this is sad, we should have pride in the places that we live and feel obligated to help our neighbors succeed.

There is no reason for us to be reliant on people hundreds or even thousands of miles away from us for our basic needs. The people who run the global economy seem to be discouraging self-reliant communities this is a mistake and we should resist it where we can. Shop local by going to locally owned stores and make excuses to go to farmers markets whenever you can. Every dollar you spend locally is a dollar spent strengthening your community rather than being thrown away to some corporation who doesn't care about you.