16 sustainable things to do in London

"Смерть есть одна из иллюзий слабого человеческого разума. Ее нет, потому что существование атома в неорганической материи не отмечается памятью и временем, последнего как бы нет. Множество же существований атома в органической форме сливаются в одну субъективно непрерывную и счастливую жизнь — счастливую, так как иной нет." Константин Циолковский ©
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From cutting out single-use plastics to reducing meat consumption and energy use, many of us make a conscious effort to help the planet from our homes. But once we venture outside the front door, it can be harder to control or even gauge the environmental impact of the places we frequent. In 2020, consumers can make a greater contribution by questioning everything, whether it’s a London hotel stay, a cinema trip or a weekend in the great outdoors. Here is our pick of eco-friendly spaces across London.

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    1. The gardens – OmVed Gardens, Highgate

    Part food hub, part events and exhibitions space and part garden, OmVed (pictured) is a North London cultural destination with plenty of hidden treasures. The land it is built on had become an unlovely tarmac wasteland, but after careful planning and landscape architecture OmVed opened its doors in 2017. Now its gardens and kitchen work in harmony, with ingredients for chef Arthur Potts Dawson’s vegetarian menu grown on site and any food waste composted to replenish the soil. The team planted more than 300 young trees as well as provisions for a wildlife corridor and a new pond system, creating a tranquil outdoor space for meditation, education and workshops on everything from herbalism to food waste.

    Address: OmVed Gardens, Townsend Yard, Highgate, London N6 5JF


    Telephone: +44 7949 445459


    Website: omvedgardens.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    2. The theatre – Arcola Theatre, Dalston

    With its commitment to becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre, Arcola (pictured) is not only one of London’s best venues for local and international arts but a sustainably minded one too. The theatre has reduced its carbon footprint by 25 per cent since 2012 with initiatives including using LED lights, installing 24 square metres of solar panels and a heating system fuelled by waste and scrap wood and selling East London drinks – 90 per cent of the beer it serves is brewed within four miles of the Arcola. The theatre champions diversity and operates a ‘pay what you can’ scheme on Tuesday evenings.

    Address: Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL


    Telephone: +44 20 7503 1646


    Website: arcolatheatre.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    3. The cookery school – Cookery School at Little Portland Street, Marylebone

    Having banned single-use plastics years ago, Cookery School at Little Portland Street (pictured) is way ahead of the sustainability game and has attained the highest possible rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. From sourdough and croissants to dim sum and sushi, there’s a real range of courses for children and adults of every ability, and ingredients and kitchen equipment are of the highest quality, to ensure the lowest environmental impact. Among other eco-friendly principles, Cookery School uses 100 per cent certified renewable energy and keeps food waste to the absolute minimum, sending its leftovers to be converted for energy production and fertiliser. Those looking to cut their impact at home can take one of the school’s food waste classes.

    Address: Cookery School at Little Portland Street, 15b Little Portland Street, Marylebone, London W1W 8BW


    Telephone: +44 20 7631 4590


    Website: cookeryschool.co.uk

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    4. The entertainment experience – Electric Pedals, various locations

    An enterprise that allows audiences to work up a sweat while saving the environment and being entertained – what’s not to love? In a series of human-powered pop-ups, Electric Pedals (pictured) puts the consumer in the driving seat by asking them to ride bikes to generate electricity. Each summer at the Southbank Centre, there is a series of outdoor cinema screenings – such asGrease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show – fuelled by cycling audience members. If they stop pedalling, the film cuts out. Other projects have included a bike-powered installation of The Rose by artist Mike Stevenson at the Lumiere festival of light in 2018. Electric Pedals aims to encourage the public to think about their energy consumption and make steps towards changing it for the better.

    Address: Electric Pedals, various locations, including the Southbank Centre


    Website: electricpedals.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    5. The food court and shopping centre – Buck Street Market, Camden

    Open from spring 2020 on Camden High Street, Buck Street Market (pictured) is London’s first sustainability-focused shopping hub. Built from 88 recycled shipping containers, the complex houses eco-friendly retailers selling environmentally sound produce such as organic beard care at Sweyn Forkbeard and ethical cuppas from Glass Coffee. The market is proudly zero-plastic and has a compost system so that food waste is converted back into electricity to power the site. Big-hitting food traders include Adrian Martin, one of Ireland’s youngest celebrity chefs, who is opening foraging restaurant Wildflower. There are also plenty of vegan and vegetarian offerings from the likes of CaribSwede Vegan Bakery and Magic Falafel.

    Address: Buck Street Market, Camden High Street, London NW1 8QP


    Website: buckstreet.market

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    6. The events space – 15Hatfields, Southwark

    Proudly claiming its title as the UK’s most sustainable events venue, 15Hatfields (pictured) has had the health of the planet at its heart since it was founded more than a decade ago. Built and decorated using materials such as goats’ hair and natural rubber compostable carpet, cushions made from end-of-the-line seatbelts and paving stone-offcut walls, the building near the South Bank is ideal for businesses wanting to cut their carbon footprint. It runs entirely on renewable energy, has eliminated single-use plastic and supplies seasonal, ethically sourced food from a caterer based less than a mile away. Even the reception desk is made from recycled fabric-conditioner bottles.

    Address: 15Hatfields, Chadwick Court, Southwark, London SE1 8DJ


    Telephone: +44 20 7827 5920


    Website: 15hatfields.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    7. The co-working space – The Fisheries, Hackney

    Built around a Victorian warehouse, on the site of what was once a seafood wholesaler, The Fisheries (pictured) is a new co-working office and multipurpose space from Benugo founder and chef Hugo Warner. Its multiple levels are decked out with upcycled items such as revamped telephone boxes and lobster pots turned into chandeliers. The building is solar powered with a grey water re-use system and has hosted charitable events for causes such as the Australian bush fire appeal. Freelancers and businesses can enjoy coffee from local favourite Climpson and Sons, a podcast room and a programme of wellness, charity, fashion and food and drink events.

    Address: The Fisheries, 1 Mentmore Terrace, Hackney, London E8 3PN


    Telephone: +44 20 3176 6640


    Website: thefisheries.london

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    8. The creative space – upstairs at Silo, Hackney Wick

    Aside from his zero-waste fine-dining restaurant Silo (pictured), chef Douglas McMaster also runs an upcycling space above his kitchen to allow artisans and craftspeople to find new ways to convert redundant produce into useful creations in an eco-friendly way. Just as Silo’s plates are made from upcycled plastic bags and its lampshades from mycelium grown on used brewing grains, McMaster wants crafty locals to use his space to invent the next solution for turning discarded objects into beneficial ones.

    Address: Silo, Unit 7, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, London E9 5EN


    Telephone: +44 20 7993 8155


    Website: silolondon.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    9. The hotel – The Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone

    Hot on the heels of its sustainability-focused older sibling in Clerkenwell, The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone (pictured) opened in 2015 with a series of initiatives that benefit guests as much as the planet. All rooms have reusable Ecoffee cups which guests can buy in exchange for complimentary coffee, while most hotel deliveries are brought by Pedal Me, a cycle courier. Food suppliers are asked to take their packaging away with them and if packaging is excessive, they are pushed to do better. Best of all, guests who stay two nights or more can help reduce consumption of power, water and cleaning chemicals by forgoing housekeeping in exchange for food and cocktails.

    Address: The Zetter Townhouse, 28-30 Seymour Street, Marylebone, London W1H 7JB


    Telephone: +44 20 7324 4577


    Website: thezettertownhouse.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    10. The roof garden – The Culpeper, Spitalfields

    With a pub, a restaurant and five gorgeous bedrooms below it, The Culpeper’s third-floor roof garden (pictured) has a lot to live up to. But its location just down the road from Spitalfields Market and its lush green plant life make it a contender for the best roof garden in London. The Culpeper’s rooftop grows produce used in the restaurant and bar – baby gem lettuce and rooftop-smoked chicken thigh – but it also has something many urban farms do not: it’s open for punters to hang out while taking in some of the best views in the capital. Look out for seasonal residencies with fire pits, blankets and plenty of food and drink.

    Address: The Culpeper, 40 Commercial Street, Spitalfields, London E1 6LP


    Telephone: +44 20 7247 5371


    Website: theculpeper.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    11. The supermarket – Gather, Peckham

    A market with a mission, Gather (pictured) is an organic refill shop and social enterprise that aims to help the local community to lower its environmental impact and be more sustainable. It started after owners Tash and Laura woke up to the damage from single-use plastic and discovered simple, sustainable alternatives – now Gather stocks cereals, vinegars, pasta, pulses and bathroom and cleaning products so that customers can avoid needless throwaway containers. Half of any profit either goes into growing their sustainable offering or is donated to environmental charities. The store doubles up as an events space for talks and sessions to help spread knowledge and find solutions for the climate crisis.

    Address: Gather, 121 Bellenden Road,Peckham, London SE15 4QY


    Website: wearegather.uk

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    12. The corporate digs – Bloomberg, City of London

    After a seven-year build and £1.3billion investment, global financial information company Bloomberg (pictured) unveiled its new state-of-the-art European headquarters beside Cannon Street tube station in 2017. Setting a new standard in sustainable office design, Bloomberg’s European HQ uses 35 per cent less energy and 73 per cent less water than a typical office building, saving 25 million litres of water per year – that’s enough to fill 10 Olympic swimming pools. The building has an environmental rating of 99.1 per cent on the BREEAM scale, the highest sustainability score of any major office development in the world. Non-employees can get a piece of the pie by visiting any of the top-notch restaurants in the carefully curated Bloomberg Arcade.

    Address: Bloomberg Arcade, City, London EC4N 8AR


    Website: bloomberg.com

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    13. The community garden – Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, Dalston

    A free-to-enter neighbourhood garden in one of London’s most built-up areas, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden (pictured) provides an important community gathering space with environmental and health benefits to the local population. Created in 2010 on the old Eastern Curve railway line, the garden encourages wildlife with trees, shrubs and butterfly bushes, and there are raised beds and planters for growing herbs and vegetables. Proceeds from the onsite café pay for the garden’s upkeep as well as year-round educational programmes and community events. In an area where the majority of people live in flats without gardens, this is an essential space for human wellbeing and sustainability.

    Address: Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, 13 Dalston Lane, London E8 3DF


    Website: dalstongarden.org

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    14. The cinema – The Lexi, Kensal Rise

    A community cinema and social enterprise, The Lexi in Kensal Rise (pictured) donates 100 per cent of its profits to The Sustainability Institute, a living and learning centre in rural Stellenbosch, South Africa. The cinema has big plans for a sustainable second screen built from reclaimed London Stock bricks. The extension will be heat efficient with solar panels and a green roof and will provide 2,000 hours per year of community space plus 25 volunteering opportunities. The Lexi shows major box-office hits as well as special screenings including a women-only refugee film club and LGBT events.

    Address: The Lexi, 194b Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, London NW10 3JU


    Telephone: +44 20 3011 5523


    Website: thelexicinema.co.uk

  • 16 sustainable things to do in London

    15. The fashion boutique – Pop London, Wood Green

    With a mission to show that sustainability can be sexy, Pop London (pictured) sells ethically produced, affordable clothing from a small boutique in north London. Knitwear is made from surplus cotton yarn, while all other styles are fashioned from surplus fabrics and trims and materials are made from natural fibres. Founder Shazia Saleem, who grew up in Scotland and studied in Florence, has represented Britain on planet-friendly fashion projects and has had her work exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

    Address: Pop London, 9 Blue House Yard, Station Road, Wood Green, London N22 7TB


    Telephone: +44 20 7164 6877


    Website: poplondon.co.uk

    Transition Town is a global movement of communities working towards a more sustainable future. In Crystal Palace, numerous projects come together under the same umbrella, including community gardens where people grow their own food, a local and fair-trade group to change how people shop, and separate groups focused on transport alternatives, waste, recycling and energy. One of the most popular parts of the project is Crystal Palace Food Market, which runs every Saturday and supports small, sustainable farmers and local food producers. It sells everything from freshly baked produce and hot lunches to store cupboard refills and recycled clothing.

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