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How fine bone china mugs made in England are sustainable as well as beautiful

Updated: May 29

white mugs on shelves in a pottery
Fine bone china mugs at the pottery

In an world where sustainability is more important than ever, making sure we make sustainable product choices when we are buying is more and more crucial. In my lifetime I have seen the rise of polluting single-use plastics and international product shipping on an epic scale, causing an increase in both waste and harmful greenhouse gases.

As an artist inspired by the beautiful English garden I want my art to be featured on products that, like the flowers I draw, are grown in the UK. When thinking of products on which to feature my art, as a life long tea-lover mugs were an obvious choice. Simply choosing which mug to buy, however, can be fraught with difficulty if you're trying to make ethical, sustainable choices.

A black and white historical photo of a pottery in Stoke on Trent
Duchess China, Stoke on Trent

Fine bone china mugs made in England - the art of mug making

Britain boasts a rich history of pottery and ceramics, with regions like Stoke-on-Trent famously known as "The Potteries." This is in fact, where fine bone china was invented, and the tradition dates back centuries. Today, one pottery in particular is leading the way in sustainable manufacturing practices - Duchess China 1888.

Using hundreds of years worth of experience and expertise, mugs are made at Duchess China 1888 using only locally sourced Cornish clay, the are molds made on site, and the mugs are made largely by hand by skilled artisans.

Find out some of the ways that fine bone china mugs made in England - in the potteries of Stoke on Trent, UK - are beautifully sustainable...

  1. Simply by producing pottery here in the UK, the carbon footprint of these fine bone china mugs is reduced enormously by eliminating the need for long distance, large scale shipping. The environmental effects of international shipping include air pollution, water pollution, acoustic, and oil pollution. Ships are responsible for more than 18% of nitrogen oxides pollution, and 3% of greenhouse gas emissions - the same as flying.

  2. By using only Cornish clay to make the fine bone china at Duchess China 1888, they are not just getting rid of the need to import any of the core materials, but using the most superior product available. Cornish clay was discovered by William Cookworthy in 1745 to be extremely similar to the kaolin that that been used in China to make fine china. A rare type of decomposed granite exists naturally in Cornwall, finer than most talcum powders. It is of the highest quality for making fine bone china.

  3. The bone ash used in making the fine bone china mugs in Stoke on Trent is a by-product of the meat industry and would normally go to landfill.

  4. The glaze used in the process of making fine bone china is never wasted, with every bit of excess being recycled back into the process.

  5. Energy efficient kilns have been introduced at the pottery which both reduce the amount of heat wasted, and use any excess heat that is produced to dry the clay.

  6. The moulds for the fine bone china mugs are made by hand, not by machines - a process that can take up to four days.

  7. Many parts of the process of making fine bone china mugs are done by hand - making handles and attaching these to the mugs, for example, as well as sponging each piece by hand, hand-dipping pieces in the glaze, hand-checking for faults and silk-screen printing all the designs by hand, to name but a few.

  8. Sustainability is not just about production methods, but also ethical labour practices. By buying products made at a British pottery, not only are you supporting your local economy, but you can be guaranteed that they are using ethical labour practices such as fair wages and safe working conditions, fostering a positive work environment and supporting local communities.

Unglazed white mugs at a pottery

Why choose British-made sustainable mugs?

Opting for British-made sustainable mugs is a conscious choice that supports local artisans, reduces environmental impact, and promotes ethical manufacturing practices. More than being just functional items, these mugs are symbols of a commitment to preserving the planet for future generations.

By choosing sustainably produced mugs, you can enjoy your favourite tea with the added peace of mind that you are contributing to a greener, more sustainable world. So, the next time shopping for a new mug, consider the story behind it and the positive impact your purchase can make.

A lady holding two hand decorated fine bone china mugs

Final Thoughts

As consumers we are all becoming more environmentally conscious, and the demand for eco-friendly products continues to grow. By supporting brands that prioritize sustainability we can all play a part in fostering a more sustainable future.

So raise your mug, celebrate the craftsmanship, and enjoy a sip of sustainability!

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