At Loyal to Local, we’ve pledged to buy local whenever possible, and we’ve outlined the reasons why shopping locally is better for the economy, for the environment, and for our communities. As consumers, most of us know we should shop local, but we’re often pressed for time, or unaware whether what we want is available locally. We’re all guilty of patronizing the big-box stores on occasion (even us here at Loyal to Local), whether due to convenience, price, or ignorance.

So is shopping at locally owned businesses really worth the effort?

In short, absolutely. And it doesn’t require a major life change.

Based in New England, the 10% Shift is a campaign designed to “build strong local economies and vibrant communities” by encouraging consumers to buy local. The organization is based on the premise that by making a slight behavior change and shifting just 10% of your annual budget for purchases from non-local businesses to Local Independents, you can have an immediate, positive impact on the health of your local economy.

The benefits of shopping locally are due to what is known as the “Local Multiplier.” When you make a purchase from a local, independent business, up to three times as much money stays locally as compared to purchasing from larger chains. And since “Local Independents” employ local people and tend to purchase from other local businesses, there is a dramatic community impact, resulting in job creation and a circulation of money in the local economy.

A study based in Western Michigan applied the organization’s principles to measure the impact of a 10% shift in spending from national chains to local independent businesses in the community. The study found that if most people in the community were to make this modest change, it would result in 1,600 new jobs, reducing unemployment by .5%; $53 million in new wages; and an additional $137 million in new economic activity in the area. Other studies have been conducted in cities and communities throughout the country showing similar outcomes, all resulting from a small shift in how customers spend their money.

There’s no question that spending locally spurs economic growth–and unlike other economic stimulus initiatives, it does so without the help of single taxpayer dollar. To determine the best way to shift your budget to local independent businesses and reinvest in your community, check out the 10% Shift’s Buy Local calculator.