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Broken supply chains show change is needed

For a long time, we’ve assumed that everything we wanted would be waiting for us on the shelves of our malls.

But with the spread of Covid-19, better known as coronavirus, that idea is being shaken.

You may have read some articles about “supply chain disruption” in recent weeks. It’s become an especially prominent topic amid not just coronavirus, but other events across the world. 

But what does it actually mean? And how can we adjust to avoid disruption? 

What’s happening to the supply chain?

Everything you buy from the store goes through a long process before it gets to you. The raw materials need to be dug out of the earth, then it needs to be manufactured, shipped to your city, and brought home.

But coronavirus is affecting that. Our world is incredibly interconnected. In the United States, for example, 80 percent of goods are imported, mostly through ocean ports.

Manufacturing output in China, where the virus was first reported, reached record lows in February as factories closed. 

The sheer volume of goods China exports, including an estimated 80 per cent of Western-style wedding dresses, means the supply chain to stores across the world could be hit in the coming weeks as the ripple effect moves up the supply chain.

What does it mean for me?

It might be difficult to find some of the items you’re after in the coming weeks. Some retailers are preparing to be out of stock of certain items, with electronics in particular expected to be affected.

You might not be able to get that item you’ve been after or, if you can, the price may be marked up.

But there’s a way around it.

Change is needed

As supply chains fail, look for the items you want within your community.

These problems with supply will not disappear once the threat of coronavirus has eased. The time to make a change is now. That can only be achieved with a fundamental shift in how we consume.

Resources are being extracted three times faster than in 1970 to produce new items. The global carbon dioxide emissions to transport those new items are projected to increase anywhere between 50 and 250 percent by 2050.

But chances are, in terms of non-perishable items, the products you were considering buying brand new are already available in your community.

When you share something with somebody in your community, nothing new needs to be produced. 

You aren’t reliant on something being manufactured halfway across the world, shipped to your nearest mall, and stocked on the shelf.

You’re renting something that’s already been made from somebody down the street, or a few blocks down.

As the vulnerability of these supply chains emerges, there’s never been a better time to reconsider our spending behavior and desire for new items.

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