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The Green Life: Family Vows to Buy Local for 365 Days

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January 27, 2011

Family Vows to Buy Local for 365 Days

Levitch family In Scottsdale, Arizona, finding a mom-and-pop shop or a non-chain restaurant is a challenge. Abundant with big-box stores and strip malls, the city Randy and Julie call home is far from being supportive of small businesses. But that hasn't stopped the couple from going out of their way to seek them out.

On Jan. 1, Julie, Randy, and their sons Rex, 6, and Judd, 4, vowed to give up big-name convenience in favor of supporting their local economy. "Our goal is a year of buying locally," Randy said. "Wherever there's a local business, that's what we'd like to support."

Their inspiration came from the closing of Aladdin's, their favorite local restaurant that wasn't able to survive in hard economic times. "It was a very comfortable and relaxing place, and the owners knew us so well they knew what we wanted to order," Randy said.

The family has since switched pharmacies, opted for a locally owned grocery store, and converted to consignment clothing. Randy admits it's been tough for a family that had become accustomed to trips to Costco, shopping sprees at Old Navy, and cupboards stocked with food from Safeway. "We can't go to those places anymore," he says. "We won't go there anymore."

But stepping outside of their comfort zone has proven rewarding: The Levitches found a farm a couple of miles from their home that raises chickens and sells fresh eggs. They've become regulars at farmers' markets, and made friends by getting to know local business owners.

And not feeling the need to always be buying something has made time for more important things. "Now we say, 'Let's go spend some quality time with the kids,'" Randy says. "There are all these things right outside our door that we can go enjoy now, and it's exciting for us to venture out and explore new places."

The Levitches chronicle their experiences on a blog called One Local Family, and on their Twitter feed, and have earned the attention of supporters far and wide. Randy says, "People see what we're doing and they say, 'Wow, this is a great idea. How can I do this where I live?'"

He hopes his family's yearlong lifestyle change will inspire others to think about how they spend, how they live, and how they can better their own communities. "Maybe this can gel into some kind of a movement," he said. "Maybe it can become not just one local family of four in Scottsdale supporting their local economy, but local families all over the world."

--Molly Oleson

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