5 leading-edge green initiatives in London

by | Mar 30, 2024 | News | 0 comments

With climate goals of net zero, London is in a critical transition over the next two decades. However, some inspirational businesses and projects are leading the way in showcasing creative initiative and embracing change.  While it is important to address carbon emissions at a personal level, part of that is supporting those enterprises that are making a difference daily, with their energy production, consumption, and their ways of balancing its impact on the environment. Here are five inspirational examples in London.  With these five you can get about town, see next-level theatre, make sure your pantry is well stocked, and eat and drink on the city skyline.

The Arcola Theatre

Not only does the Arcola Theatre produce leading-edge theatre in East London, but they are trail brazing sustainability, and setting a great example for others to do the same. Aiming to become the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre, they set up their own energy company. Arcola Energy Ltd, which specializes in the integration of hydrogen and fuel cells. When renovating their Colourworks building they reused materials and kitted the whole place out with LED lights.  Not only that but they installed 24 square meters of solar panels, which are wired up to DC Microgrids, ensuring energy efficiency.  Solar thermal panels heat their tap water, and a Therminator boiler produces heat from burning waste and scrap wood.  Plus, most of their artisan craft beer is produced locally, with only a 4-mile delivery radius.

The Culpeper Roof Garden (shown in the photo)

The Culpeper is not a traditional London Pub, it is spearheading botanical beverages and transforming urban perspectives and use of space.  Instead of using the rooftop for air conditioning units and mechanical paraphernalia, they have optimized 500 square feet of their 1,400 square foot roof, for growing food for their restaurant and bar. With a greenhouse and dedicated growing spaces, they produce herbs and salad all year round, as well as microgreens and vegetables in the summer.   Educating people to change the way they use urban space is an important part of their mission, as well as creating an inspirational aesthetic to meet and get together in.  Transforming London, one rooftop at a time….

The Lexi Cinema

The Lexi Cinema in Kensal Rise is the only London cinema that gives 100% of its distributable profits to charity. So, by being part of the audience you are contributing to support the pioneering Sustainability Institute in South Africa. Funding supports educational programs for children and young people in The Lynedoch Youth program, as well as ecological initiatives locally to support natural resources and wildlife.  Plus, it’s not just a cinema, it’s a community art space that has won many local awards over the years.

Top Up Truck

For the simplest zero-waste shopping, you need to find a Top Up Truck near you. Using the live calendar, you can book a float stop near you.  Order the food you need right to your door and fill up your empty containers at home. An old electric milk float from 2000, converted into a refill store on wheels, and bingo you have the Top Up Truck, the answer to going plastic-free when shopping.  Born in Hackney, the Top Up Truck has branched out through East and into North London, but with such a great idea, it’s sure to catch on.  Brought into being by Ella Shone, it’s all about changing habits. In her words;

“We’ve got into a position where linear supply chains that are based on make, use, and discard have just become the norm, and that is what we need to rethink.”

Green Tomato Cars

Green Tomato Cars are the capital’s only sustainable private hire operator.  If you want a taxi, without contributing to the current air quality in London, use their zero-emission passenger fleet. In addition to their guarantee to provide a sustainable vehicle, they will double offset their unavoidable emissions.  Supporting a solar water heating project in India and a Coastal Reserve in Chile, they are backing up their pledges for a carbon-neutral London. Approved by the International Organization for Standardization, they have certification that their processes are not negatively affecting the environment.

How does carbon offsetting work?

Carbon offsetting is when you support a charity, project, or scheme, that is working directly to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, or that generates renewable energy.  The idea of offsetting is that for the carbon emissions that your lifestyle entails, you balance them by supporting people who are working to counteract the negative effects of those emissions. The WWF Fund outlines the importance of using offsetting as a last resort, as is it important to evaluate the necessity of your energy consumption first.   It is important to reduce your emissions to a minimum and then consider how to offset those unavoidable emissions.  They suggest supporting companies that have been approved by the Gold Standard and then through calculating your emissions, you can purchase Gold Standard units to offset them.

Carbon offsetting complexities

Over the last years, many carbon offsetting companies have sprung up and not all of them are as virtuous as they present themselves to be. One example is near Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, where more than £85 million was generated in the name of carbon offsets, with very little money reaching the villages in this area that have a poverty rate of 88%.  Sadly, the boom in carbon units has also meant that various middlemen along the way take the lion’s share of the money before it reaches the projects it was dedicated for.  One way you can counteract this hurdle is to work out your emissions using the online calculator and then find a project that is working to sequester carbon, plant trees, or generate renewable energy.  Sometimes it makes more sense to find a small conservation group that you can register real results from, staying as local as possible.  Examples of such groups, that you can follow online are in the UK, The Woodland Trust, Tree Aid in Africa, and Forests Without Frontiers in Romania.  Even if they don’t offer credits, you will be able to know your offsets are landing in the right place.

Woodland Heritage

Woodland Heritage was set up to protect the future of English woodlands. Founded by a group of cabinet makers it is concerned with the preservation of woodlands and the capacity to grow high-quality timber at the same time. Through continuous and skilled management, it is possible to support wood-related trades as well as the woodland environment.  In a sense, it is a circular system for those who wish to use the materials of the wood and still contribute to their maintenance and long-term preservation.  Woodland Heritage assists in educating people in woodland maintenance and forestry practice through their Woodland to Workshop courses.

Green Man and Van and Woodland Heritage

Green Man and Van are leading the way in London for sustainable removals and storage services. With an electric vehicle and our connection with Woodland Heritage, we aim to become one of the carbon-neutral enterprises, flying the flag for sustainability.  We donate £10 to Woodland Heritage for every £250 spent on our services.  Our electric Luton Van can also be used to keep your carbon footprint at a minimum during your home move.  All our surveyors drive Tesla cars and can provide you with an in-person quote.  Whether you have a large or small move planned, we can assist.  What we can guarantee is that across the board, whether you need storage services, removal services, or a small move, will all be with exceptional service.