This is a simple idea to implement, has low cost but will have a significant impact on both:
• The global crisis of climate change by bringing it gently and daily to the consumer,
• while also stimulating demand for UK manufacturing and farming which will help with the re-levelling across the UK, post-Brexit.
My Idea: I would like to see all UK sold goods, labelled simply to show their use of raw and scarce materials (especially water and carbon) and impact on the environment on their production, delivery and packaging.
Consider strawberries sold in a supermarket. In June, UK grown strawberries will have a ‘low rating’ because transport costs will be low whereas, for strawberries bought in December, the rating will be much higher because of the carbon impact of flying in overseas grown strawberries.
Similarly, the labelling will show that items made of cotton have a significant environmental impact because of the high-water requirement in production.
I don’t believe in telling people what they should do but without information, we can’t make any effective and informed decisions. To be successful, the labelling system needs to be simple and accessible.
I suggest a simple 1 to 5 scale.
The scale also needs to be understandable by children. I know that if we educate children about the labels by including them in the national curriculum, they will drive buying parental preferences and so I recommend matching children accessible pictures (maybe level 1 could be a polar bear sitting alone on a tiny ice flow) to the scale.
The impact of all of this will be to:
• increase awareness and show what we can do individually to have a positive impact on climate change.
• Change buying behaviours towards environmentally friendly products.
• Encourage consumers to buy UK and locally sourced goods (which will always be more environmentally friendly because of lower transport costs) stimulating UK business.
• Provide a focus for continuing education and understanding.