Friday, 28 February 2014


On a recent writing job, I went through the profiles of some of the biggest companies and corporations in the world. For the job at hand I had to cherry pick the good points, but I took in a lot worrying information as well. Out of all the consumer companies I looked at, only one - which for legal reasons I’m not allowed to name - had an acknowledged, functioning responsibility to the environment and the world around us – in other words, a business plan that took responsibility for its actions without neglecting product or service quality.

I live in Southampton. Not a mile from my bed is the Port, wherein ships filled with cargo and passengers come and go, all through the day and all through the night. When I’ve nothing else to do, I go there. I look at the ships, the ferries, and think of all the thousands of people on board these vessels. I think of all the cargo, and how strange and wonderful it is that all these passengers, and sailors, and commodities, have come all this way. Long-time readers might even remember an incident in which I drove a completely-assembled kitchen to a dock in Holland. 

However, it only recently struck me that all this global infrastructure might all be unnecessary.

Retail website Made Closer is a company with social responsibility written into its constitution, founding itself on the principles of ‘progressive localism.’ As a person who scorns ‘localists’ who stand in the way of wind turbines so that they still have a nice view to look out on, I was sceptical at first, but the more I read, Made Closer’s ethic of selling you the product you want from as close as possible seems to make more and more sense.

Founder John Palaguta-Iles is a self-confessed ‘craver of convenience.’ Like many of us, he would rather go to the same website every time to buy whatever it was he needed. His idea relies on the fact that if there were someone near you who did the same job for a better price and gave some of that price to charity, you would go there.

Multi-national companies pour money into advertising and marketing to make themselves the most obvious and easiest option, immediately putting themselves in front of local businesses. To make it worse, prices for high street locations are soaring, making it impossible to start a shop without a huge income or a risky loan. These things make it hard for would-be ethical shoppers to support the businesses that need it – but with the help of Made Closer, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

The website acts as any other online retailer does, letting you search for products and giving you people who make them locally. As the amount of manufacturers signing up to the site increases, so do the products. Whether you want thermal underwear or handmade iPad cases, they’re right there on the site.

A functioning, ethical, online retailer? That’s not even the best part. Made Closer gives two thirds of its profits to charities that it lets the customer choose. Still not convinced? Previously, John Palaguta-Iles has run companies that have turned over £15-20 million a year, making Made Closer not only a good idea, but a good idea in the right hands.

People who are conscious of the realities of our big business economy tend to be rather pessimistic about things - and rightly so. What Made Closer brings is a sprinkling of forward thinking.

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