When you think of massive cities like London and its near to 9 million inhabitants, the image doesn’t tend to go hand in hand with sustainability.
But it’s something we are all trying to strive for in the modern day- how can we have as small an impact as possible on our planet, whilst still being able to enjoy our lives?
Thanks to improvements in technology and a clearer picture of our impact on the overall health of the planet, there are plenty of things we can do in our day to day lives that will make a difference.
Things like recycling, trying to drive as little as possible, and buying sustainably sourced and produced products all help to make a difference; but there is one area we have not yet tackled…travel.
Travel tends to increase your carbon footprint dramatically- especially when flying.
If you’re going to be travelling somewhere like London, consider driving or getting the train- did you know that the Amsterdam to London train only takes 4 hours?
If you’re worried about your impact whilst enjoying London don’t despair; there are plenty of things you can do to enjoy the city without even using a single atom of carbon.
Let’s take a look at the 5 best ways in which you can make the most of your time in London, without adding to the problem.
Surely there is no better way to experience the buzz of a new city than by simply walking its streets.
You’ll get to know the energy that thrives between the buildings, feel the pace of city life, and experience the smells and sounds that make up a thriving and energetic city centre.
London is the perfect example of an incredibly walkable city, with pretty much everything you’d put on a ‘to-do’ list on or near the River Thames.
Exploring the City’s Streets
You can make it to every major landmark in the city without even breaking a sweat as the city centre is largely flat, and actually enjoy yourself whilst doing so.
If you’re worried about navigation, or simply looking to get more out of your walk then joining a walking tour is a great way to go; and there are a great many themes and styles on offer.
If you’re a ‘Potterhead’ you can experience the magic of London by exploring locations from the movies, if you’re a foodie you can eat your way around the city’s food hotspots, and if you’re into true crime you can trace the footsteps of the notorious Jack the Ripper.
If you fancy something a little more challenging then competing with your friends in the best treasure hunt London has to offer is a great way to go.
You’ll get to explore amazing areas of the city, and solve puzzles whilst you go! And all under your own steam, no carbon involved at all.
Exploring the Parks
London is famous for many things, but its parks are amongst the most wondrous in the world.
You can find a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, you can explore ancient woodland and manicured gardens, or track deer descended from those stalked by King Henry VIII himself; you could head out for a row on a placid lake or cruise along tree lined pathways in a horse drawn carriage- there really is a lot to see and do.
London has 8 Royal Parks and thousands of ‘regular’ parks, so get out there and explore the green spaces that make London so special. One of my personal favourite parks is in east london and it is Victoria park where there is a sunday food market to die for!
On Two Wheels
Not only is London pedestrian friendly, but every year the city becomes more and more cycle friendly.
There is an expansive network of bike paths, cycle trails and bridleways that cover the city centre and beyond, and plenty of places to lock up your bike when you get to a famous landmark or location.
There is also the bike share scheme that allows you to grab a bike from hundreds of convenient locations around the city, cycle it somewhere, then lock it up and explore to your heart's content.
If you’re feeling super adventurous then you can head to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park and try out some city centre mountain biking on 8 kilometres of challenging terrain!
Don't forget to take your Goodordering bicycle pannier bag with you so you can stop off for a picnic on route.
On The Water
The Thames was once the most travelled route in the city jam packed with barges transporting goods, animals, people and supplies.
Now though, the river lies largely unused and is a peaceful and easy way to see the sights of the city.
Human Powered Paddling
There are plenty of opportunities for exploring the city on the water under your own power, and it’s an excellent way to get a new perspective on some of London’s most iconic structures.
Stand Up Paddleboarding is one of the new trends sweeping the globe and London has a great offering of lessons and guided tours.
If you’re feeling particularly ‘Attenborough-ish’ then you can take a natural history tour to learn about the local flora and fauna, or you can learn some new skills and enjoy the city’s skyline in the process.
But best of all, you can make a real, actual difference to the city and head out with a sack to litter pick the river banks as you go.
If you’re looking to captain your own adventure and explore the city’s waterways, then you can actually charter your very own totally electric boat!
I know what you’re thinking- water and electricity don’t tend to mix that well. And this was true, until the invention of the electric outboard motor.
These small boats can get you and a couple of friends down the tightest canals, and trickiest marinas in the city, and you won’t be polluting the water or burning any fuel in the process!
Pedal Powered Cinema
Have you ever been watching a film and thinking “I’m not putting in enough effort here”?
No me neither. But, you can now attend a human powered event that puts the audience in control.
Climb aboard a stationary bike and pedal with the other audience members to power the screen and projector that will be showing your film- if the audience stops, so does the film!
It’s a really fun and new way to engage with cinema and offers a totally unique atmosphere.
If you’re food obsessed then being in London is a great thing- the city actually has 66 Michelin Stars!
It’s one of the best cities in Europe for fine food, but if you’re worried about the impact that your food has on the planet, then can you really enjoy London’s food scene?
Actually, yes. The new Buck Street Market in the ever cool Camden Town is claiming to be the city’s first sustainability focussed shopping hub.
You’ll be able to shop in boutique shops that embody the spirit of Camden, but also pick up some of the best eats in the city.
All the food vendors offer sustainably sourced and ethically created food, they have a zero waste composting system that helps generate electricity to power the site, and every location must be absolutely plastic free in order to operate.
The whole place is built from 88 disused and rescued shipping containers and is surely one of the best places in the city to grab a planet friendly bite to eat.
Travelling does not always have to have a negative impact on the planet- there are ways to get around that have a minimal effect on your carbon footprint.
And when you are exploring a new city there are things you can do that actually improve the health of our planet; especially when you’re in a forward thinking city like London.
All it requires from us is a little extra thought, and maybe a tiny bit more effort. We can explore in the exact same way, and enjoy all the same sights and wonders of the city without contributing to the problem.
Let’s make sure future generations can make the most of this stunning city too- and have a little bit of fun whilst doing so!
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