The Confessions of a Non-Shopaholic
It’s high time I confessed to something. I dislike shopping. Phew. I dislike trying things on, the mirrors and the lighting, oh the lighting. I really don’t like having to buy to make a choice from the million and one variations of the same thing and inevitably, a month later, the awful sales rack that looks like my eighteen year-old daughter’s bedroom floor. How do I dislike shopping? Let me count the ways. I can’t possibly be the only one…
Having made crystal clear my feelings towards the thought of shopping, what might surprise you more is that I am the founder of Blue Patch, an online marketplace showcasing outstanding British products made by the crème de la crème of independent businesses. In fact, the question you might be asking is simply this: why on earth would a woman who dislikes shopping run an online marketplace?
The answer really is simple. Change.
One of the topics that I am increasingly passionate about is sustainability, particularly when it comes to minimising the carbon footprint of activities in my own life. By ‘carbon footprint’ I mean simply this – the full impact of any single action, large or small, on climate change. Names like Lucy Siegle, George Monbiot, David Attenborough, Charles Darwin and Franny Armstrong have influenced my own views on sustainability and sustainable living through the years and while I am no expert, I devour books and articles on the subject. A particularly favourite activity of mine is listening to podcasts while running frantically on the treadmill at my local gym.
I strongly believe that sustainable living is crucial because human activities are so thoroughly stitched together. Our production capabilities are constantly improving and thanks to the power of the Internet, one can now purchase goods made on the other side of the globe with a supply chain the length of an arm. All this, however, comes at a cost, specifically that of rapidly using up the natural resources of this planet.
You might think to yourself some variant of “All this aside, Jane, how does shopping change anything?”
Allow me to tell you. According to statistics by Biz.gov, in the past two years – which is the approximate lifespan of Blue Patch to date – 20% of the new businesses created in the UK at the same time would have failed. The reasons are many.
There is a choice that I, as a consumer, make with every purchase. It is simply this: “Whom do I purchase from?” When I buy from a local business, the money spent is often used to make purchases from other local businesses or to employ other locals, thus remaining in and benefitting the local economy. It helps a local business survive. The closer to home I shop, the less transportation my new purchases require, which means it contributes less to climate change than something made in China. Often it will last much longer as well, reducing both the time between replacement purchases and the price paid by the planet for each individual item.
As a creator, there are choices too. For example, you might have to consider where the manufacturing of your product takes place or where the materials are sourced. Are they sourced fairly? Is the supply chain transparent? Are the items mass-produced? The questions are endless.
I believe that it is important to celebrate success. Each business on Blue Patch, by embracing sustainability is attempting to break the norm of mass production and mitigate the issues brought on by low costs of sourcing unsustainable materials and manufacturing outside the UK.
We celebrate our businesses that choose to keep it local.
In keeping with this spirit, we plan to host Britain’s first Sustainable Department Store on October 1st at St. Barnabas Parish Hall in Dulwich Village, London. Attendees will have the opportunity to browse a fine selection of sustainable and quality creations and meet some of Britain’s best designers and creators. We’re very excited.
While I may dislike shopping, I have the utmost appreciation for beauty. Beautifully designed and well-crafted objects easily turn my head. My pleasure in them is that much more if I know that they have been bought sustainably.
The ‘Blue Patch Department Store’ will open its doors to the public for one day only. It will give customers the opportunity to browse a selection of innovative, sustainable and quality creations from some of Britain’s best designers and producers. All the companies with products at the store are part of the Blue Patch collective, a social enterprise that’s uniting small British manufacturers and independent workshops.
We’re looking forward to meeting many of you on the 1st October 2016.