Co-ops fight global warming and save us money.This sixth and last article in a series about what the average person can do about global climate change.Our desire to help is sometimes all but overwhelmed in light of the huge scope of this problem. Most of us feel like there is little we can do to make a difference. But, when you see it as millions, if not billions, of people like us working together then what you are doing can have a major positive effect.Really, what can the average person do to help?In the last five articles we talked about some the things around the house that can be done to help. Most of them were small, easy to do and did not cost much. Some were larger, maybe cost a few bucks and their difficulty factor went up some.These next ideas are ones that involve small group cooperation and involvement.Most of us make a list of our weekly, monthly and maybe yearly requirements for food and household supplies. We go to the local shops because they are close and maybe to the big-box mega store once every few months. We also watch for sales or specials to save some money. Even at this level of planning we still run back and forth to the stores more than we really should. All this travel burns up gas; puts wear on the car, eats up our time and puts more CO2 into the air. Not to mention, it costs us money.For years people in neighborhoods around the country have been working together to shop in a different way, save money and combat global warming.They have formed “Buyers’ Cooperatives”.These cooperatives come in two basic types – formal and informal. The informal is where two or more families get together, pool their resources and buy agreed upon items in bulk. Formal cooperatives involve detailed planning on how the organization is going to be formally structured. These include electing officers, writing a set of by-laws to govern the coop and setting dues, meeting schedules and buying trips.Which of the two is better? That, as with any group, depends on the people involved. If you have the right sort it will work without the burden of a formal structure. If, a jerk or two is in on it, then it can be one headache after another. Beyond the type of coop, just how do these work?One simple example, without going into exquisite detail, is if two families want to buy rice. They must first agree on what type of rice, how much and the price per pound they are willing to pay. Then, whose car will be driven to the store; gas sharing, where to divide up the rice and how it will be paid for? Credit is not used in small coops “only cash”. You can see that even at this simple level it can be involved. This ˜buying in bulk” concept works reasonably well for small groups and if stores like Sam’s or Costco are reasonably close.Very large formal coops can involve hundreds of people and get into negotiating with wholesalers for railcar size quantities. Renting warehouse space, insurance and lawyers can be come into the mix.If you get involved in a coop at any level it can be rewarding. You can save money and help the environment at the same time. The people you meet in coops are usually ones who care about what they are doing and its effect on the world.I hope you’ve found this series of articles useful in your daily lives and can put some of the suggestions into action.The earth will thank you.
Think Global – Act Local!