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As a small-town business that is focused on sustainability and saving our customers money, shopping locally is very near and dear to our hearts. While big box stores ship globally at a huge cost to the environment, local outfits are able to do business while leaving a much smaller carbon footprint. But the most immediately noticeable impact of local shopping is improving the local economy, and we are always looking for ways to keep more money circulating in Southern Illinois.

One easy way to up your ratio of locally-based consumption is to look around your office and see what can be purchased locally. For instance, we like to stock our office with snacks, cleaning supplies, and toiletries purchased from the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery. Next, expand your view to other aspects of your operations, and don’t be afraid to get creative. We gift all of our solar clients “Sunshine Wine” from nearby Walker’s Bluff, and when we get crew shirts and company swag, we prefer to get it made at 710 Custom in Carbondale. ArtWorks in Carterville is another great local business that takes care of our printing needs. Around lunchtime, one of our favorite spots to grab a bite is local favorite Fat Patties, where you can get burgers made with beef raised just down the road at Lick Creek Beef.

It’s even possible to turn to our neighboring businesses for more industrial needs. We recently stocked up on wire for our solar installations from Marion Electric, and the steel for our ground mounts comes from Shew Brothers. All of our installations require special engraved signs, which come from Carbondale Trophy. We’re grateful to live in a small-town region where so many awesome mom-and-pop shops are still thriving, and it feels good to be able to give them business while doing our own business.

Of course in our opinion, the ultimate form of buying local is doing so for your energy needs. You can’t get much more local than your own roof! As the only full-time local solar installer for 19 years, we have helped hundreds of local homes and businesses slash their energy bills, and to save as much money as possible while doing it by taking advantage of state and federal tax credits.

In recent years, the “Buy Local Movement” has taken off around the country as communities and citizens realize the immense benefits to their local economies and even their own health and well-being. Traveling around Southern Illinois and meeting its people, I’m not surprised in the least to see residents embracing the movement and helping one another out with their buying power every day.

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Aur 'DaEnergyMon' Beck, is a NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer™ with AES Solar in Carterville and started educating himself about renewable energy as a teenager even before (at age 15) he moved into a camper in his parent's driveway to live off grid solar and ended up living off grid for 18 years. Aur understands that living how he does makes it very easy to advocate for a life of simpler living, energy efficiency and renewable energy. His name Aur (pronounced "or") means light or to enlighten in Hebrew. Can be reached at tech@AESsolar.com or 618-988-0888.

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