I am always concerned by how far a purchase has to travel to reach me. If it was grown or made next door (Scotland say), it will, obviously, have to be transported a shorter distance than one made in China.
What are product miles?
The distance a product has to travel from growth or production to the place of consumption. is called product miles.
It follows in the better known tradition of
Air-miles – how far a product had to fly
Food miles – the distance from farm to fork
I am sure there are others I don’t know about. Container miles maybe? Ship miles? But I prefer product miles as it covers them all.
Why Count Them
I want to cut the carbon cost of everything I use and product miles have an attached carbon cost. The longer the distance a product travels, the more petrol needs to be burnt resulting in more emissions, more trucks are needed on more roads… basically it means more of everything. And a lot of them things I don’t much like including global warming.
This is one reason I try to source local products. Other equally important benefits include supporting local businesses and eating seasonally.
The Product Miles Of A Plastic Bowl
Salmon Luke make plastic bowls here in the U.K. This is from their website:
“Here are the product miles for our bowl and cutlery.
One Salmon Luke bowl 1,972 miles
One spoon and fork set 2,164 miles”
But be aware that “the raw ingredient for plastic is obviously oil, but it’s nigh on impossible to find out where ‘our’ oil was extracted. So, for the purposes of our study, we calculated the product miles from the petrochemical company which produced the finished polymer. “