Thursday, August 20, 2009

Think Local Sustainable

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 6:10 PM

Missoula's Sustainable Business Council (SBC) changed its website today.

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As you can see, a headline on the page's left column used to read, "Think Local - Buy Local." Today, it reads, "Think Sustainable." The move was made in response to the sidebar in this week's "Localwashing" feature story.

The sidebar points out that SBC, like many other organizations, is wrestling with some of the intricacies of promoting a "Buy Local" campaign. For instance, under the former headline, SBC listed Patagonia and ValPak — two regional branches of national companies and, hence, not truly "local" by most definitions — alongside local, independently owned shops. SBC Director Genevieve King said Patagonia and ValPak are simply "affiliate members" who support the campaign, but should not be actively promoted. She called their placement on the website a mistake and said it would be fixed. That obviously happened, which is good. As the larger localwashing feature states, clearly defining what "local" means in each individual campaign is hugely important and, before today, the SBC site wasn't clear.

In a conversation this afternoon, King expressed concern about how ValPak and Patagonia were portrayed in the story. SBC is, as its name implies, first and foremost about sustainable business, and she says Patagonia and ValPak are proud sustainable businesses. There's separate criteria for membership to SBC and membership to the specific "local" campaign. Our story focused on the campaign, of course, but we're happy to clarify SBC's broader mission.

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