Buy Local Buy British

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. So I will buy imported melons from Spain but only if they are naturally grown in Spain and in season.

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

Case Study The Product Miles Of A U.K. Made Plastic Bowl
Even then it is not always easy….
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 

Ideally I like to buy stuff sourced in Britain and made in Britain. Again there are all manner of conflicts. What if cotton fabric has to be imported to make hankerchiefs? Is made in Britain better than hankerchiefs made in the fabrics country of origin?

But supporting British industry support has a lot of benefits. Especially locally owned business. And 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.

Why This Post Is ….

A little bit rubbish. You are reading a work in progress. Here’s how the blog is written and why we post half cocked.

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.

And what do you think about product miles and buying British?


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 plastic free products

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
Unpacked bath bombs

And these new products
The following is from the UK business insider review.
Lush just released “naked” — or packaging-free — versions of shower gels, body lotions, and body conditioners.
The naked body lotion and body conditioner are surprisingly great, and work slightly better than their packaged counterparts.
The naked shower gel is unique, but isn’t quite as moisturizing as the original formula.

Read more.

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.


Who owns what

This infographic is from reddit  and I have no idea if it is true or not! But there is no doubt that very few companies own an awful lot of stuff.


Boycotting plastic means buying unwrapped which often means buying local – from the butcher, the green grocer and the baker.

Which takes back some control and keeps money in the community.

Just another reason we do it

Who owns your daily news……
With thanks to Left foot forward
Combined print and online readership
(In brackets print alone)
Effective owner/s
Information about effective owner/s
Political orientation of newspaper/s
% of combined print and online (Print alone)
The Sun/The Sun on Sunday
Rupert Murdoch
Billionaire. Lives in US.
Alleged tax avoider.
Supported Tories in 2010
The Mail/ Mail on Sunday
Lord Rothermere
Billionaire. Lives in France.
Non-domiciled for UK tax
Supported Tories in 2010
Lord Rothermere
Billionaire. Lives in France.
Non-domiciled for UK tax
Supported Tories in 2010
Mirror/Sunday Mirror/ People
Trinity Mirror plc
Public Limited Company
Supported Labour in 2010
The Guardian/The Observer
Scott Trust Ltd
A company with purpose “to secure Guardian’s independence”
Supported Lib Dems in 2010
Telegraph/ Sunday Telegraph
David and Frederick Barclay
Billionaires. Live on private island near Sark.
Alleged tax avoiders.
Supported Tories in 2010
The Times/ Sunday Times
Rupert Murdoch
Billionaire. Lives in US.
Alleged tax avoider.
Supported Tories in 2010
The Independent/ i/Independent on Sunday
Alexander (father)and Evgeny (son) Lebedev
Alexander is a billionaire, ex-KGB and lives in Russia. Evgeny lives in the UK
Supported anti-Tory tactical voting in 2010
London Evening Standard
Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev
Alexander is billionaire, ex-KGB and lives in Russia. Evgeny lives in UK
Supported Tories in 2010
Daily Express/Sunday Express
Richard Desmond
Billionaire pornographer.
Alleged tax avoider.
Supported Tories in 2010
Daily Star/Daily Star Sunday
Richard Desmond
Billionaire pornographer.
Alleged tax avoider.
Supported Tories in 2010
Daily Record/ Sunday Mail
Trinity Mirror plc
Public limited company
Supported Labour in 2010
Financial Times
Pearson plc
Public limited company
Supported Tories in 2010
Readership of UK press (for papers over 1 million) in March 2013 by effective owners
Effective owner(s)
% of combined print and online (print alone)
Lord Rothermere
27.3 (27.8)
Rupert Murdoch
24.9 (27.9)
Trinity Mirror plc
13.0 (13.9)
Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev
10.6 (10.1)
Richard Desmond
8.2 (9.2)
Scott Trust
7.3 (4.7)
David and Frederick Barclay
6.8 (5.1)
Pearson plc
1.8 (1.5)
Over a quarter (27.3 per cent) of the press is owned by Lord Rothermere and 24.9 per cent by Rupert Murdoch – between them these two men have over 50 per cent of the printed press.

Over three quarters (77.8 per cent) of the press is owned by a handful of billionaires. There are only 88 billionaires among the 63 million people in the UK and most of the barons do not even live in the UK.


Yarn Wool

Know Your Fibres

Textiles and ultimately clothing start with fibres

Know Your Fibres
Fibres are short fine hairs that can be twisted or spun into longer thread or yarn. This may be woven or knitted into fabric.
Fibres (and then yarns and ultimately fabrics) can be can be natural, synthetic or chemically produced hybrid called regenerated fibres.

Natural fibres Are derived from plants like cotton or animals like wool and silk,
Synthetic fibres are man-made from chemicals many of which are petroleum derived.
Regenerated Fibres The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources. It is then converted through a chemical process into fibres.

Read more HERE

Guest Post

Thanks to Jen for this introduction to natural yarns…

Knitting and crochet are very popular hobbies these days and you can find yarn in almost every craft shop. The trouble is that, whilst the common term for it is “wool”, a lot of what you will find is actually plastic, often in the form of acrylic (which, incidentally, isn’t made in the UK). Care is, therefore, needed when you go shopping.

Acrylic yarn is cheap and can be washed in the washing machine, in addition it’s available in a huge range of colours, so it’s a very common choice. However, it sheds large numbers of fibres (and all that machine washing does nothing to reduce this) and it doesn’t maintain its look and shape like real wool does. If you want to avoid plastic for your knitting and crochet there are, however, a range of options:

Wool: Probably the most obvious alternative is real wool – you know, the stuff that comes from sheep. Wool is a very accommodating yarn to work with as it has some stretch. Here in the UK it is easy to buy British Wool: check the ball bands and look got 100% wool not a wool/manmade fibre blend. I’m not going to list brands or suppliers, because there are so many, but you can buy wool from a wide range of sources, from large companies through to individual farms. Take a look at Woolsack for a comprehensive list of British wool sources and stockists. You can buy generic or breed-specific wool. Different sheep breeds produce different sorts of wool with different properties, so if you have a specific set of requirements, it’s best to do some research first: soft Blue-faced Leicester, for example, is somewhat different to lustrous Wensleydale. You can find information on-line (here, for example), but it’s best to go to your local yarn shop and feel the wool… and ask questions. Whilst it’s easy enough to buy online, it’s much better to have personal experience rather than relying on a written description. It’s also worth noting that there are those who rave only about Merino wool; however, very little is produced in Britain and there are great local alternatives such as Blue-faced Leicester. If you are looking for machine-washable wool, then you can buy ‘Superwash’ wool, but it is actually plastic-coated (the chemical used is polyamide-epichlorohydrin, known commercially as Hercosett 125). I prefer to wash my woollies in a no-rinse wool wash, such as Eucalan which just requires soaking followed by gentle wringing or pressing between a couple of towels.

Other mammal fibres: It’s possible to produce yarn from a whole range of fluffy critters: goats, rabbits, camels, alpaca, yak and many others. The fibre from each has different characteristics, and, in general, they are relatively expensive. Again, it’s best to get up close to them before you decide which is the yarn for you.

Cotton: There’s plenty of cotton yarn available and there are no issues with plastics here, unless it’s a blend (which is not uncommon). Cotton, however, is a crop that uses huge amounts of water and (unless it is organic) to which huge amounts of pesticides are applied, so whilst you’re avoiding plastic, you might want to consider other environmental issues. Of course, no cotton is grown in the UK, but there are some recycled cotton yarns available. In terms of knitting and crochet, cotton has no stretch to it and it can be rather unforgiving to work with.

Other plant fibres: Some plants, like flax and nettle, contain fibres that can be removed by a process called retting (basically rotting away the soft bits and leaving the long fibres) and then spinning these. Linen, hemp and nettle HEREyarns are made this way; indeed ‘linen’ is sometimes used as a generic term to describe this sort of fibre. Like cotton, these yarns tend not to be stretchy and so can be more difficult to knit or crochet than wool/mammal fibres.

Silk: Silk comes from insects: most commonly the mulberry silkworm. It’s sometimes available as a pure yarn, but it’s often included in a mix with other fibres to provide lustre and strength. Like the plant fibres, it isn’t stretchy.

© Jan Martin 2018


Please note…

This post was written by the contributor.

Guest Post & Plastic Free Promotions

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Hodmedods – British Grown Beans, Grains & Pulses

Did you now you can get homegrown British beans, lentils (soon) and even Quinoa. Many of them organically grown….

Introducing Hodmedod’s

“We work with British farms to source a range of top quality ingredients and delicious foods. We’re particularly interested in searching out less well-known foods, like the fava bean – grown in Britain since the Iron Age but now almost forgotten – and black badger peas.
We founded Hodmedod following the successful Great British Beans trial project to stimulate and assess demand for indigenous pulses.”

So far so fantastic but it gets better…

Plastic Free Packaging

“Many thanks for your enquiry.

Using recyclable packaging is something we feel very strongly about and we are avoiding plastic where we can. We are aiming for all plastic-free packaging.
So far all our 500g packs of dried pulses and grains are packed in compostable plant based cellophane.
At the moment we are still struggling to find a compostable sticker adhesive, but you can peel off the sticker and pop the rest in the compost.
most bulk bags are paper
our packaging puffs are compostable non-GM maize.

Unfortunately we are unable to offer this for our snack range which are packaged in impermeable packaging and resistant to break down from the oils within them and no biodegradable packaging we are aware of fulfils these stipulations.”

Heres the product range but do check the site as there may be more by now

Pulses & Beans
Yellow Peas split
Green Peas, Split
Fava Bean split and whole
Carlin / Yellow / Blue Peas,
Red Haricot Beans

Lentils coming soon

Wholegrain White Quinoa

Naked Oats

Flaked & Puffed Grains
Quinoa Flakes,
Quinoa Puffs,
Naked Barley Flakes

Camelina Seed

Buy from the Hodmedod’s website


Buy Local, Buy British
Check out other British based stores and products HERE

Other options for loose beans include

Wholefood Market a supermarket chain
Weigh & Save shops a UK franchise
And other loose food outlets as listed below

Loose Food A to Z
Find out if a shop near you sells bulk food loose. This is stuff that that normally comes plastic packaged ie rice, pasta and salt. And yes these shops do exist in the U.K. There’s just not many of them.
Heres alist of towns with shops selling loose food.


While these shops provide bags and they are almost always plastic ones. You will need to take your own plastic-free /reusable bags.

More Food

Check out the tasty food index to find lots of plastic-free GRUB yum yum!


Pulses & beans – Index

You can buy beans in a number of ways.
Dried loose or ready packed
Glass Jars

Lentils and pulses Are usually sold dried, loose or ready packed.


Dried beans can be bought loose
As befits a hippy supermarket Whole Food Markets do a good range.

Scoop and save shops Usually do red lentils and a limited range of beans.

Check out the loose food index for more loose food shops.

Loose Food A to Z
Find out if a shop near you sells bulk food loose. This is stuff that that normally comes plastic packaged ie rice, pasta and salt. And yes these shops do exist in the U.K. There’s just not many of them.
Heres alist of towns with shops selling loose food.


While these shops provide bags and they are almost always plastic ones. You will need to take your own plastic-free /reusable bags.


Did you now you can get homegrown British beans, lentils (soon) and even Quinoa. Many of them organically grown….Introducing Hodmedod’s
“Using recyclable packaging is something we feel very strongly about and we are avoiding plastic where we can. We are aiming for all plastic-free packaging.
So far all our 500g packs of dried pulses and grains are packed in compostable plant based cellophane.”

They sell beans, grains and pulses. See the full list HERE


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


Many places sell tins of ready cooked beans.


You can find beans and chickpeas in glass jars in some Asian shops and polish delis.