Your Guide to East London Sustainability
Pay a trip to somewhere like Hackney in East London and you’ll find no shortage of sustainable businesses, organic cafes, whole food shops and the like. It seems like lots of people have the environment on their minds.
And hopefully this trend is set to continue with the launch of the British government’s Green Deal scheme; property owners will now be able to claim for a loan to make their homes more energy efficient.
If you’re visiting East London, there are plenty of quirky places you can visit that champion a green agenda. Here are three of my favorites each spreading a sustainable message in their own unique way.
It’s a fact that food and drink packaging amounts to a huge waste of energy, not to mention money. Most food wrappers end up in the bin, rather than in recycling boxes, and eventually find their way into landfill sites, where it takes energy to get rid of them. That’s resources wasted at both the manufacturing and disposal stage of the cycle.
Unpackaged is the UK’s first organic refill shop and has just moved into larger premises near Broadway Market. The basic principle is that you bring your own containers (which could be jars, bottles or even takeaway boxes) and fill them with as much, or as little, produce as you need.
The shop sells pretty much everything you’d expect to find in a small supermarket including wholefoods, nuts, cereals, tea and soap. Most items are sold by weight and are locally sourced.
The aim of the game is that you save money by buying only the quantity you need, and at the same time help the environment by eliminating the need for packaging. It’s even possible to drop off your own containers on the way to work and pick them up afterwards – bound to be a hit with the London Fields set!
Look Mum No Hands!
It must be said that London isn’t the most cycle-friendly city on the planet. It’s too big, too oriented towards motorists and certainly no Amsterdam. Nonetheless, over the last few years cycling has seen something of a revival with many commuters swapping their Tube ticket for a two-wheeler.
The positive effects on the environment are obvious. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint by not using fossil fuels. And if enough people cycle to work, Transport for London will eventually be able to run less trains and buses. Of course, you’ll also discover a whole new London that usually whizzes past you in a blur from behind a glass window.
Look Mum No Hands! is leading the cause of getting people out on their bikes. It’s one of a new breed of bike workshop cafes that have sprung up around the city, offering a place to have a pit stop of hot or cold food (plenty of vegan and vegetarian options available), grab a quick macchiato or get your bike serviced. Check out their amazing Guinness cake!
Look Mum’s interior is pretty much cycle-obsessed with bikes hanging on the wall and cycle sports showing on their giant projector. They also run bicycle maintenance courses so you can be one of those people who annoy their partners by having bits of bike cluttering the back garden.
It’s easy to forget about the impact of arts venues like cinemas, theaters and concert halls on the environment. After all, it takes a lot of power to light up a theater stage or wire up a rock band. That’s why the Arcola Theatre, a fringe arts venue in a converted paint factory in Dalston, has seized the opportunity to spread its environmental message.
The Arcola managed to cut their carbon emissions by a massive 32% in one year, and through a series of trailblazing initiatives encourages other arts institutions to do the same. It aims to eventually become the first completely carbon neutral eco-theatre in the UK.
Among its measures taken to be green are solar panels on the roof, DC microgrids which transform power into a more efficient form, and hydrogen fuel cells to power the performance lighting. Sustainability also extends to the construction of the building with energy-efficient appliances used throughout. And stage sets tend to be sourced through local recycling networks.
Pay a visit to the Arcola for fringe and experimental theatre productions old and new. The venue currently spans two studios and a temporary pop-up tent venue.
For a range of accommodation options, many of them eco-friendly, check out London hotels from HotelClub.
By Matt Lindley
- London Olympics’ emissions lower than expected (nbcsports.msnbc.com)
- Top 10 – Public Parks In The UK (essentialtravel.co.uk)
- London Cycle Sportive to include cycling locations from 1948 and 2012 Olympics (sykose.wordpress.com)