Product Miles

Help Me

This is something of a prototype post and it needs some input. If you know of any great stores that should be on the list please let me know.


One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the shops seeing what you can source. Better still if they are independant shops rather than supermarkets. But it’s not just about local shops, buying local produce is extremely important to me for a number of reasons, one of which is product miles.

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 am always concerned by how far a purchase has to travel to reach me. If it was grown or made next door it will, obviously, have to be transported a shorter distance than one made in China.
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.

Seasonal & Local

Buying closer to home doesn’t always mean that product was produced more ethically. Peppers grown in cold Holland in artificially heated greenhouses may have a higher carbon cost then peppers imported from hot Spain even though it is further away. Out of season U.K. strawberries will have a higher carbon cost (again from heating greenhouses) than ones grown in season.

Buying native fruit and veg in season is the greenest way to buy. But does limit my choice. If I need to buy imported often because there is no unpackaged local veg my general rule of thumb is seasonal native from the country of origin.

Ideally No further away than  Europe – bananas being the exception.

The Product Miles Of A U.K. Made 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. ”

Buying British Made 

Cutting product miles means buying British made. There is still lots of stuff make right here and a lot of it is lovely. Here are some websites that promote British made products.

N.B. not all the materials used will be locally sourced…

Make it British
Looking for products made in Britain? You’ve come to the right place!
Make it British is THE source of information on British-made brands and UK manufacturing. We are passionate about British craftsmanship and want to help YOU find products made in Britain. @MakeItBritish

Still made in Britain

Is devoted to promoting British manufactured products. You may think from listening to media reports or reading a newspaper that we in Britain do not manufacture anything. This could not be further from the truth. Britain is still producing high quality goods and classic products. @StillMadeInBrit

U.K. Made
My website “ukmade” is about celebrating British manufacturing and helping you source British made goods. It has many recommendations of quality products made in the British Isles.

British Footwear Association
Today there are 5000 people making 5m pairs. However, these bald statistics hide another story. All producers are currently working flat out to satisfy the increasing demand for British made goods and the Northamptonshire factories continue to set the benchmark for high grade men’s welted products.
You can find the members directory here.

More shoes.. Check out this useful guide to shoes still made in the U.K.

Carrier Company
Make great clothes right here.

Etsy U.K.
Etsy is a peer-to-peer (P2P) e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items. Wikipedia
It is an American owned on-line market place.
It has a British made section Etsy.U.K. A good place for finding small, U.K. based makers and artists

Shopping British Owned

Of course I try to use small local independently owned shops where ever possible but sometimes you have to go chainstore. In which case these are, as far as I know, British owned.

Help Me

This is something of a prototype post and it needs some input. If you know of any great stores that should be on the list please let me know.


Swimwear Recycled

Well my Decathlon, unsustainable boy shorts have finally fallen apart and it is time to source some new, more ethical swim wear. Given my …. lets call it chunky…. form,  this is an area where I feel I might have to go with lycra. Yes it’s plastic but I need it to keep my pants on. So I am looking at recycled, recyclable stretch swim wear as the way to go. Until I learn how to make my own, this is the best I can do and the only realistic option for those who can’t sew.

Davy Jones

This is a very nice project…Davy Jones have just launched a ranges of swimwear made from ” 100% regenerated nylon yarn from waste including spent and ghost fishing nets. And are designed to last longer, fighting the trend of throwaway fashion and creating something that can keep up with you in all conditions.
WE are looking to build a closed-loop resource system within the brand. While OUR SUITS ARE BUILT TO LAST, when THEY DO eventually reach the end of THEIR life, we want you to be able to return them to us and we will recycle or regenerate the resource content. The target will be to achieve 60% closed loop recycling by 2020.”

They are also made in the U.K. 

Visit the website here 

Rizboard Shorts
If I was younger, slimmer and richer I would go for a pair of these…..Rizboard Shorts for surfers – ladies and gents….
These are designed in London, made in Portugal, from recycled fabric and they have a recyswim wear recycle postcling program to take back old shorts.  Nice designs too.  Some blurb for the website…

“Riz Smith, the founder and creative director, is a London-based designer and surfer. After years of designing swim and beachwear for various global brands, he became acutely aware of the need for something better. With this in mind he set out to build a small, honest brand shaped around the aspiration of creating ‘The most beautiful and sustainable swim shorts in the world’.WE DON’T WANT OUR SHORTS LITTERING LANDFILLS OR OCEANS. SO, IN AN EFFORT TO DO OUR PART WE’VE SET UP THE RIZCYCLING PROGRAMME.

This means working with our customers, you, to create a perpetual loop that transforms waste and old swimwear into beautiful new products.

Today all our shorts are made from 100% recycled and recyclable fabrics. By offering a 25% discount on a new pair of shorts, we encourage you to donate your old unwanted surf shorts for us to reuse or rehome.

Here’s another scheme I came across. For those of you who like a sustainable banana hammock….and who wouldn’t. Best of all worlds surely?

Aquafil & Speedo

Aquafil today announced it has partnered up with with Speedo USA. Aquafil, specializes in the production of a synthetic fabric called Econly Nylon 6. It is, according to Sustainable Brands, made from upcycled fishing nets, old carpets and other nylon products that have reached the end of their product life. Better still it is endlessly recyclable.

Speedo specialize in the manufacture of swimwear known for those very skimpy trunks known as budgie smugglers. The ones that make you avert your watering eyes.

Aquafil will be taking Speedo’s left over fabric scraps and turning it back into nylon fibre. This will be used to make PowerFLEX Eco fabric which will turned into more swimwear.

Powerflex consists is78 percent ECONYL nylon the rest is Extra Life LYCRA®.

An article in Sustainable Brands quotes Speedo as saying “the resulting fabric retains its shape up to 10 times longer than traditional swimwear fabrics, is resistant to chlorine, sagging and bagging and is offered in styles designed for both performance and fitness swimmers.”

The article claims that “ECONYL offers the same quality and performance as traditionally manufactured nylon and can be recycled an infinite number of times without any loss in quality.”

What it doesn’t say is how or indeed if you can recycle your trunks.However that should be a possibility. Patagonia uses a similar sort of fabric and runs a return and recycle scheme.


This fabric is also used in  surfer Kelly Slater ‘s new men’s apparel line,Outerknown,

Read more about similar types of synthetic fabric.


Clothes – British companies we like

Please note that while these companies are British and the product are designed and marketed in the U.K. They may actually be made abroad.

From wikkipedia
Craghoppers is a British outdoor clothing manufacturer and supplier that was founded in Batley, West Yorkshire in 1965. According to their website, the company was set up by outdoor enthusiasts who were planning an expedition to climb Mount Everest. They wanted gear which would withstand the harshest of conditions, so they researched and designed fabrics that would protect them from the extreme cold. They reached the summit of Everest and, upon their return, set up the outdoor clothing company.


Shea Butter Leeds

This is a quick introduction to Shea Butter

Semi soft buttery oil. Read more about butter oils and waxes here.
Imported usually from Africa.
Has a soft velvety texture.
Can be used neat as a very rich moisturiser.
Mix with coconut oil to make a lighter body butter. Recipe here.
I love it added to home made creams and lotions.

Which Shea Butter?

Unrefined shea butter is going beige or ivory or ‘off white’
Bright white refined shea butter
Pale yellow may be shea from Nilotica (Viterallia Nilotica) and it’s natural
Deep yellow Shea Butter has been dyed originally with a natural dye from the Borututu tree or more likely now a synthetic dye.

Raw Shea Butter
In it’s natural form.
Unrefined Shea Butter
Some filtering allowed so remove larger particles.
Refined Shea Butter
Some form of processing which also removes its smell.

Read more about shea butter in Wikipedia


It can of course be bought online but here in Yorkshire we have a local supplier. Maya’s stall in Leeds Market. They specialise in black hair and beauty so if you don’t live near Leeds check to see if there is a similar store or even hairdressers near you.It does come in a plastic tub though.

Wether bought on line or locally there will be some plastic packaging either a bag or a tub. As I get huge amounts of product from one tub or bag I consider it a worthwhile compromise as it still represents a huge decrease in plastic consumption.

We Made

Body butter


See a full range of homemade #plasticfree personal care products here 



lush are one of the more forward thinking British companies. They are ethical in all kinds of ways and  sell a lot of their beauty products unwrapped. Good if you are trying to live plastic free and not hurt the bunnies. Read more About ethical Lush here

They do plastic free

unwrapped soap
solid shampoo  read my review here
solid conditioner read my review here
unpacked henna

I don’t use them much as the shops smell way to strong. I can’t go in without sneezing. But there are plenty who do who. Here is a great series of reviews by Minimalist Exposure

And they support stuff like this:

One of four Pop Ups being staged to support the Lush 2017 Creative Showcase event in London next month, Naked House is part gallery exhibition and part immersive experience curated by the brand team at Lush to show just how easy it is to make the switch to Naked (as in living with less packaging).
Read more here.


Find other plastic free personal care products here…

Making Other Personal Care Products 

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on making your own personal care products



Did you know you can buy loose screw and other fixings at Wilcos – as many or as few as you need and you can mix and match. You will need to take your own plastic free bag.

Loose screws

You can find a photo gallery of the #plasticfree products we have sourced, here

Plus these which we didn’t take photos of

Bicarbonate of Soda, large crystals – Cardboard
Borax Substitute – Cardboard
Citric acid

Find A Store – store locator here


Wilko Retail Ltd. is a British high-street chain which sells homewares and household goods. Founded in 1930 as Wilkinson Cash Stores by James Kemsey Wilkinson in Leicester, the company has remained largely in the hands of the founding family. Wikipedia

Supermarkets & Chainstores

Sometimes supermarkets can surprise you – check out the plastic-free and reduced packaging products here.


Pulses & beans – dried

Loose, dried pulses are not easy to find.


As befits a hippy supermarket Whole Food Markets do a good range.
Here’s a list of shops that sell loose foods. They may sell beans and most of the Scoop and save shops  do red lentils.

The Greenest Beans

This might be worth looking into;

Feb 17 tweets The British beans I finally picked up from the post office are packaged in paper! Thx

They come from  “Hodmedod is a small but growing independent business, founded in 2012 to source and supply beans and other products from British farms.”

Dried beans and peas from British farms. From 500g to a tonne or more.

PULSE & QUINOA FLOURS Gluten-free fine yellow pea, green pea, fava bean & quinoa flours.

BRITISH QUINOA Grown on the plains of Essex.Deliciously nutty and light.

And from what I have seen on Twitter, some stuff comes in paper bags!

Do check and please let me know.


Buying Plastic Wrapped

But if none of these work for you try to buy products that are wrapped in polythene rather than film  as this is an easily recycled plastic unlike film which is not. More details here.

Internet store Goodness can supply you with a whole load of  beans and other dried stuff in polythene bags. Please note, many  of the companies featured on their website DO sell stuff in film BUT the 3kg bulk buy bags in the Goodness range, (their own range), always come in polythene bags.

At least that has been my experience but you should double check..

Their onward packaging is all recyclable or biodegradable.

Goodness Range ( that I have bought – there are lots more 

  • Kidney Beans
  • Black Eye
  • Lentils Yellow
  • Lentils Green

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