In January this year, James and Emily Bradshaw made a New Year resolution – for twelve months they would buy only UK-made products. TM gets a festive view on the commitment.
Find out more about the family’s experiences as they rooted out all imported goods from their shopping lists at: www.britishfamily.co.uk
TM: How difficult are you finding it to celebrate Christmas with only UKmade products?
James Bradshaw: Keeping everyone fed and watered is relatively easy and, it may surprise you to find, cheaper than buying all your ingredients without thinking where they are from. We’ve generally found that our food bills have reduced by about twenty per cent since we started buying British.
Our biggest concern is finding a suitable present for our son Lucan. He’s three years old and this will be the first Christmas he really understands and gets excited about – but we’ve found that there is little to no toy industry in the UK.
We were excited to find that Air Fix had brought back about ten per cent of its manufacturing to the UK. And there’s Orchard Toys which makes basic cardboard games. But the toy industry in the UK is in a tragic state when you compare it to Germany and much of Scandinavia which have retained their ability to make proper toys that kids want.
TM: What about decking the halls?
JB: Finding Christmas decorations and festive ‘tat’ is proving difficult. We can get high end decorations like hand blown glass baubles, but you can’t buy tinsel and fairy lights. I know that stuff’s crap but we all love it.
TM: Isn’t it good that Britain is focussing on high quality and high value manufacutring?
JB: I can see that argument. Not being able to buy cheap, throw-away items means that we are investing in decorations that will last for years and which we will cherish for their craftsmanship, quality and design.
But there’s a part of me that wishes we did manufacture more for the masses.
We let the manufacture of light bulbs, for instance, which we made from the day they were invented, move abroad relatively recently. The death of that kind of consumer industry in Britain is a great loss.
I’m also unconvinced that it’s OK to retain manufacturing but sell off ownership of British brands.
It’s great if we can retain the manufacturing, but there is a need for us to maintain control of the brands which, in some cases, have been built up over 100 years and more. It’s not just about economics – there’s social and cultural aspects to this, which for us as a family is more important.
Our brands represent us around the world, and if we lose control of them, we lose control of the way we are represented as a nation.
TM: Are you looking forward to your commitment to British-only products lapsing in the New Year?
JB: We’re calling this our first year as The British Family. It would be silly to give up what we have found to be a great lifestyle choice – but we won’t be pursuing British-only products with the same militancy in the future.
TM: If you could have a Secret Santa UK-made gift this year, what would be top of your list?
JB: A pair of Alt-Berg boots please! They’re high performance hiking boots made in Yorkshire. We also published a list of our list of top ten British-made Christmas buys, any of which would be great.
To read the Bradshaw’s list of best British-made Christmas buys go to: bit.ly/BritishXmas