What is the next step?
So if you really want to start using metric and thinking in metric, what is the next step?
Ask most people why they don’t use metric measurements and the usual response will be, “I don’t understand metric”, “it’s too complicated” or “I’m too old to start using it”. But you don’t have to follow the old ways.
The metric system is very easy to learn and understand (see Basics and Benefits of the Metric System). The main reason that most people don’t use metric measurements is that they don’t think in metric.
There are several reasons why Britain has been slow to adopt “metric thinking”:
Resistance to Change
Britons have traditionally been resistant to change and it takes some time (often many years) to replace a familiar system with a new one; even if the new system offers significant benefits. It is perceived that somehow we would be destroying part of our heritage if we were to abandon our ‘traditional’ imperial measurements, even though most of the imperial measurements originated from outside the UK.
Although children are taught the metric system in school (and have been for over 30 years), at home they see and hear parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters using only imperial measurements in everyday situations.
Whilst the UK government has introduced more legislation relating to metrication, it has provided little or no consumer education regarding the changes. Contrast this with the changeover to decimal currency in the early 1970s when there was widespread public information regarding the changeover from the old pounds, shillings and pence.
Most shops that sell goods by weight or length must, by law, display measurements in metric sizes. However many, retailers continue to display imperial equivalents alongside. Although this is seen as being helpful or “customer friendly” (and in some cases to make goods appear cheaper), it simply reinforces the dependence on imperial measurements and the reluctance of consumers to learn the metric system.
It is unfortunate that some use the changeover to metric for their own political gain, saying that it is due to the European Union that we must change over to metric. Not so, as every country in the world except the USA now predominantly uses metric, including all British Commonwealth countries.
A very good reason for the UK to complete its changeover to go metric is to align itself with the rest of the world. Whether or not the UK is a part of the EU, it would still be necessary to use metric to trade with every other country in the world (especially as the USA does not even use the same imperial units as the UK does).