Sunday, April 01, 2007

Made in England - Bought in Scotland...

I know, I know, to some this might sound like a Fool's Day posting, but... I bought myself a pair of new sneakers today. Not that I needed them, those that I use are still in perfectly good shape. However, I wanted to start into spring with a new set of sports wear, so don't castigate me too loudly, if you could. Even so, I bought a pair of terrible looking sneakers from a company called New Balance. I bought them for no reason other than the label saying that they were made in England, and that they're vegan friendly (ie no animal was killed producing them). I preferred them to shoes made in Vietnam, China or any of these places, because I know that a product produced in the UK by local workers means: 1] the sneakers didn't have to be transported half-way around the world to get to me (less energy wasted); 2] the company had to abide by pretty strict EU/UK rules and regulations on the environment (they were produced in a manner less harmful to the environment than a pair of sneakers produced in China where standards are substantially lower and environmental protection is by and large unknown); 3] the company had to abide by EU/UK labour regulations, which means staff receive a pension, paid leave, don't work more than 35-40 hours per week, things like that; 4] last but not least, no animal was subjected to suffering or was killed during the production of the sneakers.

So, in short, by supporting New Balance I supported a better deal for the environment, and a better deal for the factory workers producing the sneakers. Seems eminently sensible to me.

What's the downside? Well, for starters, the sneakers were more expensive then comparable sneakers produced in Asia. I don't mind, but I do understand that many people do not have the luxury of being able to afford more expensive products. The other downside, and I got to be honest here, these sneakers look about as terrible as the cars Rover produced (yes, the defunct last British owned car maker). I truly wonder what prevents the company from producing seriously better looking sneakers, given the premium it charges for its England made products.

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