Over the past twenty years the industrial landscape of Britain has changed dramatically. Actually it’s worse than that- it has largely gone away.
Try an experiment; go into your local toyshop and look at the labels to see where the various things come from. Take something quintessentially English, like a Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy. I bet you’ll find it was made in China. I recently tried to find anything not made in China as a present for an Asian child, and it was nigh on impossible.
So China, with its cheap labour and under-valued currency, has become the workshop of the world. Unfortunately it has also become the fastest-growing polluter in the world, and the biggest exploiter of people.
Now I am not arguing that the Chinese people don’t deserve a chance to work their way out of poverty. Just as I don’t begrudge the French their government-assisted industry, or the Germans their hugely efficient car industry. I just wish that there were positive industrial news from nearer home. Something made here, that works well, looks good, and is competitively priced.
Well actually there is! You have to look hard, but there are businesses and people in these islands busily making things that are well worth a look. All these products are supporting British jobs, which makes them excellent eco gifts, or you can even buy them for yourself!
For example, are you looking for an occasional mattress, maybe for unexpected guests, or for a camping trip? This one’s really comfortable, looks great, and is made in Birmingham by a mental health charity. Good product, good cause!
Or how about some wonderful stoneware mugs and pots, made by a craftsman in Scotland? Tough, authentic, and each one subtly different from its neighbour, because it’s hand made from abundant local raw materials!
And finally, if you’d like some light shed on another industry, try this aluminium café-style ceiling lamp. Made in Wales, in the shadow of the Brecon Beacons, by a family business, which used to specialise in miners’ safety lamps. It’s stylish, recyclable, and demonstrates that not every British business just gave up and went away when their core market went into decline.
So you can still buy British, and support craftsmen, family businesses, and charities. Now that’s good news, isn’t it?