Why we love to buy British

British eyewear from Allegro Optical - Walter & Herbert

We just love to buy British

It’s well known that at Allegro Optical we love to buy British. We do this because buying British supports British companies and protects the jobs of our fellow UK citizens. Yes, we are all up for a bit of flag-waving and protectionism. You’ll find many of our team glued to the Last Night of the Proms. Often bobbing up and down along with the Hornpipe from Fantasia on British Sea Songs.  But putting patriotism aside, we look at buying British from an environmental perspective more than anything else. Although we’re obviously happy to support our fellow businesses and British manufacturers as much as we can. With the UK still grappling with the economic effects of Coronavirus and an imminent Brexit. The threat of global warming hard to ignore, we feel that buying British is a must. 

Air Miles

We all love bananas, but we don’t see these growing in the UK any time soon, even with global warming. Our morning cup of coffee will no doubt continue to be produced in either Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Ethiopia, Vietnam or Indonesia. However, it has always seemed nonsensical for us to import massed produced, “designer label” goods. These have often travelled thousands of miles and are far from exclusive. Especially when we have such local talent in the UK.  UK frame manufacture did go into a decline during the late nineties and early noughties, but there has been quite a resurgence in the past decade with bespoke manufactures such as Hemp Eyewear, Banton FrameWorks and Mosevic, all beginning to produce unique high-quality eyewear, based in the British Isles. We also love to support and stock the long-established British brands such as Anglo American Optical founded in 1881, Savile Row Eyewear which has been manufactured in London since 1932 and Walther and Herbert, founded in 1946, all still going strong.

It’s not just frames

Unlike many opticians, all our prescription lenses are manufactured right here in the UK. We use an independent UK based British company which produces the most comprehensive range of spectacle lenses available in the country today. Because they manufacture all the lenses on-site in Bishop’s Stortford, Caerphilly and Leeds they are able to produce lenses for complex prescriptions which are often rejected by the larger multinational groups.    We have a wonderful relationship with our lens manufacturer and know most of the lab team by name. When things go wrong it is really helpful to be able to call the lab and talk to people we know who can actually pick up the lenses we need to discuss, rather than wait on in a telephone queuing system to talk to an operator in a remote office with a lab 10,000 miles away. There are still some excellent, UK made quality items that you can be found with a little effort. We made a point of sourcing all our PPE and COVID safety equipment from UK manufacturers where possible. Our Ozone generators are all UK made as are our sneeze and cough guards. We have also sourced many items of PPE, cleaning products and scrubs from the UK. 

Saving money but at what cost?

It has to be said that products made in Britain tend to be higher-end and therefore carry a higher price. We think price depends on priorities. At the end of the day, we all often have to consider what we can afford. But often it is a case of buying better quality items which last longer and actually saves us money.  As Terry Pratchett famously quoted his character commander Sam Vimes Boots theory “A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars [and last for years and years]. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Anyone who can afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while a poorer man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots at the same time and would still have wet feet.”   Many of us fall victim to the trap laid out by the theory and opt for the cheaper imported goods. But are we really saving money or are we paying more in the long term? Also, is the cash saving costing more than just our hard-earned money?

Saving the planet

Nowadays, everyone knows that it is cheaper to manufacture practically anything in far-flung developing countries. To then ship them from around the globe rather than manufacture them locally. Many don’t even think twice about buying smartphones, tablets, laptops and game consoles which we know are all manufactured on the other side of the world.  It’s relatively cheap to buy these devices and they are in plentiful supply. But have you ever considered the environmental impact of shipping these goods thousands of miles and what effect it will have on our children and grandchildren’s futures? In 2017 Apple published its environmental report for the iPhone X, revealing that a single iPhone X is estimated to produce a massive 79 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions over the course of its lifetime. That 79 kilograms of CO2 emissions is about the same as burning through 8.9 gallons of petrol or driving an average car for 463 miles.  About 80% of these emissions come from the production of the iPhone and 15% is due to the amount you use your phone. Nothing is mentioned about the emissions produced during the shipping and distribution process, but it all adds up. 

Responsible, Recycled, Reasonable and Resplendent

We take carbon emissions into account whenever we purchase new frames or equipment. Another consideration is the material they are made from.  This is why we are particularly fond of our Sea2See range featuring fashionable frames made out of recycled plastics from the ocean. We call it “upcycling the ocean.” Our regular readers will know all about our love of sustainable and local producers and suppliers. Likewise, they will also know that we like to protect our planet.  From the low impact Hemp Eyewear, the recycled Sea2See and the hand made natural cotton-based acetate frames from David Green many of our frames are biodegradable. We make no secret that in cash terms our frames are a little more expensive than others. But we consider the bigger picture. While we take our responsibility to our clients, our economy, our local environment and the planet seriously you can rest assured that we haven’t sacrificed style for substance. Our frames feature modern designs, vibrant colours and designer detailing.  By sourcing our frame selection responsibly we are helping our planet and respecting our environment. Where possible we are reducing air miles by sourcing British made frames and in turn our carbon footprint. In doing this we are also supporting the British economy. Not a bad decision in what can be described as a particularly difficult and uncertain time for the UK. 

We care about your eyecare and eyewear

So when you visit Allegro Optical Opticians you can not only be sure that you will receive first-class eye care. We can guarantee it won’t cost you the Earth. If you would like to try ethical eyewear call, Greenfield, on 01457 353100 or Meltham on  01484 907090  

The dangers of mascara

Halloween, Bonfire night, Christmas, New Years – there’s so much going on during this time of year, and it’s filled with parties, meals out, and

Read More »