I lived in London for 5 years from my early to my late twenties, and as a result, I spend time there as often as I can, to see old friends, but also to drink in the sense of excitement and opportunity which fills me when I’m there. It’s as addictive as crack.
A lot of people tell me that they are surprised by my love for London – for someone so preoccupied with trying to be more eco-friendly, I guess it seems odd for me to be obsessed with a massive, crowded, smoggy city. But aside from the fact that [densely populated cities = more room outside of them for nature to thrive], London is also a full of really remarkable businesses who are leading the way when it comes to sustainability.
And here are just a few to get you started:
You can’t go wrong in Kings Cross, as I have previously argued in this blog post from the archives about TED restaurant and Grain Store. Also worth a mention a little further up the road is Hook Camden, a casual diner boasting a ‘new school’ approach to fish and chips. They only work with 100% sustainable small fisheries, day-boats, and fantastic local suppliers, ensuring sustainability and responsibility in every part of their processes. The food is then served on recycled, re-usable, wooden packaging, and their take-away cutlery is made of 100% biodegradable corn starch. Plus, their panko-breadcrumb jerk batter is amazing!
If you fancy heading further north than that, the Duke of Cambridge in Islington was London’s first ever organic pub – owned and run by Guy, the founder of Riverford Organic Veg Boxes and his wife, Geetie. Not only is this place totally gorgeous to look at and sit in, but as expected, the food is excellent too. I recently enjoyed a leisurely lunch of roasted aubergine, fennel, pepper and cauliflower with polenta chips & pesto, and it’s definitely one of my favourite meals of 2017 to date.
Another option for eco-friendly eating in London is the Island Grill restaurant based in the 5* Lancaster London hotel. Just a 5 minute walk from Paddington Train Station, this place has recently been awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s top rating, thanks to Head Chef Adam Woolven’s vision to create an eco-friendly – yet luxurious – dining experience. I wrote a full review earlier this year, which you can read here.
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Gorgeous bream with squid ink tagliatelle at @islandLondon with that moreish, crispy, salty skin! This restaurant – inside @lancasterlondon near Paddington – has been awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s top Three Star rating. The menu even includes dishes which use honey harvested from the beehives on the roof 👌 #ecofriendly #green #sustainablefood #london #ethicaleats #foodblog #foodies100
Head to Borough Market for fresh, seasonal, locally grown foodie produce all year round. There’s a reason this market is so famous; it’s bloody lush. My top tip is not to leave it until lunchtime when it’s heaving, head down there as early as you can to beat the hoards and have your pick of the day’s best.
You can also pop just around the corner to Neals Yard where you can watch Neals Yard Dairy make the most sensational cheeses right infront of your eyes, or to Neals Yard Remedies to pick up some ethical, organic makeup and skincare. It’s worth a visit just to see how pretty it is around there – even if you aren’t in the market for smelly cheese or fancy face creams. There’s also a raw, Wild Food Cafe where you can stop for lunch, too!
Alternatively, you can head to another of London’s many bustling weekend markets for a variety of handmade, vintage or locally made wares – if hunting for a bargain is what you fancy, check out this guide to the best food, fashion and craft markets London has to offer.
Hang out in some of London’s amazing green spaces, and drink in that scenery. Whether you choose to meet the ducks and the pelicans at one of the well kept, city centre green spaces like Hyde Park or Chelsea Physic Garden, or you head out to enjoy one of the wilder spots like Hamstead Heath or Richmond Deer Park – London’s parks really are among the world’s best. You can read more about some of London’s prettiest parks and commons here.
As for me, my favourite green space in London has to be Wimbledon Common. I used to live at the bottom of Wimbledon hill, but a short walk up to Wimbledon Village and I felt like I was in another world, one filled with country folk in Barbour jackets. I could treat myself to a brisk walk in the wildness of the common, before sitting outside one of the traditional pubs nearby, watching all of the horses being walked out of the village stables and taken across the road for their daily hacks. It’s a memory I still cherish, and writing this has reminded me that I need to get myself back to Wimbledon for a visit, ASAP.
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Stunning sunset over Rushmere Pond in Wimbledon Common! . . Credit: @olly_r_b . . . . . . . . #IgersLondon #ThisIsLondon #ILoveLondon #IG_London #TimeOutLondon #VisitLondon #Shutup_London #MaybeLdner #PrettyCityLondon #PrettyLittleLondon #LondonByLondoners #LondonLocal #MySecretLondon #LondonReviewed #IG_BritishIsles #VisitEngland #VisitBritain #londoncalling #exploretocreate #mydarlinglondon #london4all #london_only #londonbylondeners #PassionPassport #Darlingweekend #Travel #beautifulplace #bestplace #pretty #love
For getting around:
Try Green Tomato Cars, the city’s eco-friendly answer to Uber. They only use hybrid vehicles, and were also the first private car company in the city to double offset their emissions. Last year alone they offset 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions – a project you can read more about here. And if that wasn’t enough in terms of feel good factor, they also work with four key London charities – Tree For Cities, Great Ormond Street Hospital, whizz – kidz and The Kensington Temple School. Lush.
The QBic Hotel in East London is my go-to. I’ve written a full review of the QBic here, but if you can’t be bothered to read that, I’ll summarise. It’s essentially a quirky budget hotel with loads of personality, and they commit to loads of eco-friendly initiatives including – generating part of their own electricity via solar panels on the roof, LED and energy efficient lighting, 100% chemical free cleaning products, natural toiletries, and organic mattresses and bed linen made from lambswool, cotton and coir fibre. Plus, click here to watch a video which shows how they put together their cool little capsule rooms!
Alternatively, you could give this eco-friendly tin-roofed outhouse in Brixton a go – I love how unexpected the vintage interior is! Definitely an experience to add to my list.
FOR GETTING THERE:
By far the most budget-friendly & eco option is Snap. Snap matches people in need of transport with the very best, brightest (and nearest!) coach company out there, when the coach would otherwise be empty, like returning to a depot) – and they only run trips when enough people want to make a similar journey. This means they can deliver cheap prices, but also, that you will be filling up a coach that would already have been making the journey – meaning you aren’t contributing to any extra emissions as you travel.
If you fancy giving Snap a try, you can get your first trip *free* by clicking here.
Know any other great eco-friendly London spots? Let me know in the comments below 🙂