Introducing Provenance

 In Journal, Social Change, Sustainability

If only we could know more about the things we buy, or share more about the things we make, in a nice visual easy to understand kind of way. Well, now we can, one of the things that has been keeping me busy this Autumn is Provenance, a new platform that does just that.

Provenance was started this summer by my friends Creative Technologist Jessi Baker and Journalist Matt Hussey. Jessi and I met in the very early days of Think Act Vote, and built our friendship on a shared passion of wanting to know more about what we buy, things that are made, and how to be a better consumer citizen that lives by our values. On my return from the states in September, I popped in to see Jessi & Matt, and hear what they were up to. A few days later, they asked me if I wanted to get involved. That was a no brainer. I have always been excited about how we can use technology to create a more conscious consumerism but never quite understood how open data could really lead us there, until now.

Provenance iPad

We live in the world we buy into. 

Everyday we buy products that exploit people and the environment. We can choose not to. There are lots of businesses striving to make great things and also support their community and the environment. We couldn’t find anywhere for these makers to show their positive environmental and social impact in a way that inspires both trust and trade. So we set up Provenance.

Provenance is a place where makers can tell their story. They can open up information about the people, places and raw materials that make their products. It’s also a place shoppers can browse by where things are made, find out information about product materials and the people that made them. This, we believe, helps shoppers make more informed choices and directly support makers aiming for a positive social and environmental impact.

We believe in the freedom to make an informed choice. 
Buying is like voting. The things we buy are a vote for the practices and values of the companies that make them. The choice of what to make and buy might be personal, but we can no longer ignore the impact this has on others. At Provenance, we aren’t claiming to be ‘ethical’ or ‘sustainable’. We are striving for both those things through complete commitment to openness and honesty.
We are opening up data about where things are made, out of what materials, and by whom. The more information is shared, the smarter our community becomes. We believe through technology we can make knowledge about how to make better things open and accessible. We call this Open Data. Thanks to our collaborations with other data partners the information we gather is always open and shareable. That’s why we are in the midst of building an API so others can build on the product data we gather about products.
We went live a few weeks ago, and my favourite thing about the site, is our map that shows you the things that have been made around wherever you are when you are logged in. In this very first version we have focused on one location for made in, multiple materials for made of, and  the maker (designer/brand), as made by.
This is the first step in a much bigger mission. We are already working on new features that allow greater transparency and accessibility in supply chains, and are developing a number of partnerships with other open data platforms to help shoppers make more informed decisions at the point of sale than ever before. It’s exciting times!
Have a play on the site, and let me know what you think. If you are a shopper you can set up a profile and discover cool stuff, and if you make something then do add your work to the site. We welcome your thoughts and ideas on how to make it better. Just e-mail me on amisha (at)
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