Sustainable Commerce, at its most fundamental level, aims to restore the traditional spatial relationships between producers and consumers, with the intent of reconstituting proven models of goods production and distribution which encourages the consumption of locally produced goods and services across a broad spectrum of products including food, energy, and transportation. This model originally evolved through the development of rational and efficient regional settlement and transportation patterns and typologies which, by their nature, minimized impacts to the planet and provided a more secure degree of sustenance to the community it served.
Recent land-use and policy regulations have led to the fracturing of these traditional, locally-based economic systems by encouraging low-density, auto-dependent, sprawl development which in turn enabled the development of integrated globalized economies which tend to mask real impacts and long-term costs, in terms of human and natural capital, through environmental and human exploitation. Therefore, the importance of understanding the link between land use and commerce is central to the long-term health and viability of our regional economies, the communities they support, and the planet as a whole.
The model of Sustainable Commerce is based on four underlying principles:
One – it should be location efficient – in that it provides a spatially-defined framework for the rational and efficient production of goods and their distribution, relative to their intended consumer market.
Two – it should be balanced and equitable - in that, to the extent possible, it represents those goods and services that can be reasonably provided through local resources without putting undo stress on the local environment and/or otherwise relying on the exploitation or degradation of the health and welfare of those located elsewhere.
Three – it should be flexible and robust - in that no part of the system should be incapable of change, and/or too big to fail, in accommodating the challenges we may, and increasingly – will likely face in the future. Collectively, it should be both diverse and adaptable, such that the failure of any one part will not lead to the failure of the whole.
Four – it is comprehensive by nature – as a logical extension of the first three principles, Sustainable Commerce should always be thought of comprehensively in terms of the net performance of the system as a whole, and not merely its individual component pieces. The optimization of any one component at the expense of all the others should be discouraged as a matter of policy.