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. @
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. @
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.
Make great clothes right here.
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.
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?