Every little helps
Photo by Ilinca Roman on Unsplash
I’m afraid my helplessness continues again this week for different reasons. We’re clearly going to hell in a hand basket; a favoured phrase of my mother with a touch more class than my more visceral iterations. Let me explain why.
Who counts the dead eels?
About a week ago, the River Brent, which runs through Ealing Golf Club died. Okay, the water still flows, but a significant amount of raw sewage leaked into the river and killed the fish. I discovered that there has been ongoing protests in the Tokyngton Park area near Wembley, upstream from the golf club, where a sewer overflowed 36 times in 2019 into the Brent. Basically every time there was persistent rain, shit hit the river. This recent incident seems more significant and Thames Water are now trying to clear up the impact of their negligence, which includes the counting of dead eels. Thames is apparently fined on a per eel basis. I wonder who does the counting? Do they care?
To alleviate the environmental impact and presumably because it’s a health hazard, men in high vis jackets have been standing around while mobile pumps are pushing the river water up into the air creating impromptu fountains. They’re trying to put dissolved oxygen back into the water because low oxygen kills fish. Adjacent to the 12th tee on Sunday, where there was also a lack of oxygen, a Thames Water van was parked all day, his diesel engine running as it had been on Saturday. It’s rough having to work weekends. Our high vis jacket needed his phone charged, not in case of emergency but in order to watch videos in-between dozing off. I wonder what his title was - Environmental Officer?
Taking a stand
Thames Water is a large local monopoly owned by Kemble Water Holdings, a consortium of mostly foreign investors including BT’s pension scheme. It’s a badly run company if your primary concern is the environment and not shareholder dividends. Fines from Ofwat (the regulatory authority) must be regarded as an occupational hazard and good business, which explains why they continue to pollute with gay abandon.
I’m not helpless
While I can’t lay a scratch on these scoundrels, I can help the environment in other ways. I’ve already decided that my EV (electric vehicle) is a more than an adequate replacement for a fossil fuel one and since the delicious beef at our wedding, my meat consumption is down 90%.
I’ve now decided to add to my tally by only buying British manufactured clothes which helps the economy and the environment. I will also be voting for a decent opposition party when I find one.
Behavioural change has to happen
If I was hugely concerned with a designer wardrobe, this would have been a more difficult decision to make. My imagination was first captured after I read about a fashion conscious woman who stopped buying new, in favour of recycled clothing from a variety of sources not only charity shops.
According to the Climate Change Committee (the UK’s independent adviser to government) behavioural change has to happen if the UK is to reach net zero. Interesting to read that the government’s own nudge unit document, advocating less flying and eating ruminant meat, published alongside their net zero strategy on Tuesday (19th Oct, 2021) was swiftly removed within hours.
On the Made in GB website the idea of backing Britain dates back to 1968 when 5 young female typists at Colt Ventilation and Heating in Surbiton, made a New Years resolution to work unpaid for an extra 30 minutes every day. The idea took off especially when Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister gave his backing.
Buy British sounds rather old fashioned. It takes me back to my advertising days working on a successful, on-going strategic campaign for the then, Meat and Livestock Commission. It was a constant reminder to buy British. I think that battle has largely been won in supermarkets, although the very recent free trade deal with New Zealand might upset the balance.
An even earlier recollection of British awareness I have was when Barry Porter became the Conservative MP for Bebington and Ellesmere Port in 1979. He insisted on continuing to drive a Toyota which I could see from my bedroom window overlooking Village Road. Many complained at his choice of car given that he was supposed to represent the interests of Vauxhall’s manufacturing plant employees in Ellesmere Port. It still employs 2,200 people today.
Having made my declaration to myself and Donna, did I spot a slightly raised eyebrow? I started looking for British apparel. How big a challenge could this be?
When you think of British clothes brands, you might think of Barbour, Dr Martens and Burberry. A Barbour jacket is more likely to be made in Turkey, Portugal or Bulgaria than South Shields on Tyneside. You can still buy a British manufactured jacket, but check the label.
I’ve been to Clarks Village in Somerset, home of Clarks shoes, founded in 1826. With their British factory closed, all their shoes are made in China, India, Brazil and Vietnam now.
As part of my research, I thought I’d look for a golf gilet having already discovered Lavenham Jackets in Norfolk. I laughed when I found a traditional Scottish golfing brand which was clearly sensitive about its manufacturing and trying to protect its heritage. It turned out, with some digging that their clothing was now made in Asia. The item was, however, folded and pressed in the UK.
I found some wonderful heartwarming stories about British brands which made me feel great and this idea a good one.
Norman Walsh trainers is the only UK manufacturer left. Walsh were big into rugby and cricket boots in the 1960s and 70s. They still make fell running shoes and have a good range of lifestyle shoes which I’m now looking forward to wearing.
Bennett Winch had me laughing about their men’s backpack. At the end of their description they said, there's no elasticated bungee pocket for your water bottle, neither is there a little hole for your head phones; this is a bag for grown ups. Bravo.
Peregrine have been making 100% British clothing for 220 years. They have a shop in Regent’s Street and their head office is in Montpelier, Bristol. The current Managing Director, Tom Glover, is the 8th generation of Glover to run the brand.
Every little helps
That well worn phrase feels appropriate, but don’t expect to see me in plus fours and a shooting jacket just yet. It will be a gradual replacement programme which I’m sure I’ll be boring some of you with in the future.
I couldn’t resist a quick supermarket check on their Britishness. Only half the stock in UK supermarkets is British sourced and Morrisons lead the way with a solid 66%.
Now where did I see that rather pleasant waxed biker gilet?