Hayley Matthews: Shopping locally can have global effect

In Stewart's at Loahnead we have a brewery on our doorstep, perfect for shopping local
In Stewart's at Loahnead we have a brewery on our doorstep, perfect for shopping local
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The older I get the more conscious I am of buying locally, supporting British traders and hopefully having less impact on the planet.

I suppose it’s a generational thing (I’ve been watching Mad Men and realise how much life has changed since the 60s). Things are a lot different now, and we’re in a consumer world, a world where you can have anything from anywhere, and it leaves me with an irksome feeling that it’s quite an extravagant way to be. Surely something has to give?

Those who follow me on Facebook will have seen the National Geographic video I shared about the starving polar bear that only survived an hour after it was taken. It’s heartbreaking. I’m that unpopular person who shares these posts because if we just pretend it’s not happening, it will get much worse.

Global warming scares me, and I think just a little effort from us all will give our children a better Earth. As the famous quote goes: “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Can we use less packaging, eat less meat and support more local producers? I do try. I feel now, more than ever, we need to be reducing our consumer footprint and saving those polar bears. It’s all related.

READ MORE: Polar bear remains ‘found washed up on Colonsay’

I researched Scottish skincare ­producers and discovered Ishga in the Isle of Lewis. They use Hebridean seaweed to make some amazing scrubs, skincare and candles. I had no idea seaweed could smell so good and my face is looking less wind-chafed for it! I’ve also become more aware of buying products that have natural salt in them instead of plastics that will only pollute the sea once you pull the bath plug. It feels good to know you can get Scottish products that use water from the sea surrounding Lewis, instead of buying mass-produced products that have been shipped from China.

Speaking of my love of seaweed, it’s not just used in local skincare but in Welsh gin, created by Da Mhile. I found the distillery based in mid-Wales, ideal for sourcing local gin for my Uncle Dougie in Cardiff (don’t worry he won’t see this article, so no spoiler). I obviously had to sample it first and I think he’ll approve. This local sourcing takes more time, but I am on a mission to support UK breweries instead of the better known worldwide, go-to options we find ourselves buying every year.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon annoounces first ever Arctic Circle meeting in Scotland

I’m surrounded by beer drinkers and it wasn’t hard to find a brewery on my doorstep in Edinburgh. I’ve always been aware of Stewart’s brewery, but had never gone out to their base in Loanhead to stock up on mini-casks until now.

Genius idea, although I’ll need to limit my trips to once a week or my baby belly will turn into a beer belly very quickly. How had I never done this before, and had the lure of the supermarkets’ mass-shipped products just become too easy for me to buy, or had I become too lazy to look elsewhere and source locally?

I know it’s not possible to buy local all of the time. In an ideal world I’d have hens laying eggs out the back, walk everywhere, always buy local, but just a little local support must be ­beneficial, right?

At a time of year when consumerism goes through the roof and we want everything from everywhere, supporting our UK producers feels like the right thing to do.