Coffee: it’s every workaholic’s go-to beverage and, astoundingly, perfect for manufacturing sportswear. Nowadays, it isn’t just perfect for a pick-me-up — it’s potentially fueling London’s signature double-decker buses.
“Instead of sending a tonne of waste coffee grounds to landfill where it degrades and releases methane and CO2, we collect it, recycle it and turn it into a renewable fuel which is then used to replace further conventional fuels – so it’s a double saving”, [said] Bio-bean founder Arthur Kay.
Among the heaviest Americano consumers, Londoners contribute up to 200,000 tons of coffee waste annually. To make the most out of discarded grounds, Bio-bean is extracting 6,000 liters of oil to mix into fuel. The final blend is of 20% biofuel, which will also help to reduce carbon emissions.
“We’re not saying that it’s going to totally replace fossil fuels overnight,” Kay said.
“The amount of diesel produced globally is always going to be more than the amount of coffee.”
Considering London buses run nearly 2 billion trips a year, Bio-bean’s initiative could encourage alternative energy use. Perhaps a beer fuel may even be in talks.
The streets of London have been getting some serious makeovers. Select popular boulevards are now energy-harvesting, which are not only high-tech, but also sustainable. To further counter traffic and lower carbon emissions, London mayor Sadiq Kahn is pedestrianizing shopping capital Oxford Street.
“Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard.”
With over 500,000 visitors daily, Oxford Street is a breeding ground for potential vehicular accidents. (One every week, to be specific) Renovations will also allow easier access to the Elizabeth Line. The project will likely be rewarding — but at a cost of £60 million and years of remodeling.
The western section is due to finish by the end of 2018, with the eastern section between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road going traffic free by December 2019. The final part, by Marble Arch, will then be turned over to pedestrians after 2020.
Without the hazard of passing vehicles, Oxford Street may be double the hot spot it is today.
If going vegetarian is something up your alley, this nutty milk delivery service may be perfect for you. With Mylk Man, ditching dairy has never been simpler.
Mylk Man offers your classic plant-based flavours, like almond, in addition to funkier bottles, like pistachio and sweet chai and turmeric and cashew.
As well as these fancier varieties giving them an edge on supermarket-stocked brands, there’s also the 12 per cent minimum volume of nuts in every bottle – significantly higher than most mass-produced blends.
As a vegan lifestyle is clearly all the rage, Mylk Man should be nothing short of a hit. 500 ml bottles start at £1.75. Glass material makes them easy to recycle or return for future deliveries. Unfortunately for any neighboring European countries, Mylk Man is London-based (but there are talks of expansion).
“Sustainability is fundamental to what we do,” says [business owner] Jamie. “As well as being plastic-free and using glass bottles, we give 10 per cent of our profits to Greenpeace. And we’re stocked in massive tanks at the Bulk Market zero waste shop, in Dalston.”
For a taste, I’d say an impromptu weekend in London wouldn’t be out of the question.
In the past few months alone, the zero-waste community has grown exponentially. Environmental enthusiasts are ever going as far as hosting sustainable wedding receptions. Waste-free shops are manifesting across all seven continents, including this charming boutique in London.
“I created a shop that I wish existed. I wanted to cut packaging, I wanted to cut my footprint, and found it very difficult as supermarkets pack everything.” [said shop owner Ingrid Caldironi]
The shop, dubbed Bulk Market, boasts a wide range of organic products. Home essentials, including fresh produce, chocolates, and hair products, rest comfortably on its shelves. Caldironi’s ultimate goal is to prevent excessive buying and packaging waste.
“Why can’t we shop with smaller exact portions – 1-2 carrots, 1-2 eggs; why big packets with the environmental waste that goes with it?”
As an avid lover of omelettes, I’m not entirely sure 2 eggs would get the job done. However, the initiative is more than commendable, especially for environmental aficionados on a budget.
For urban communities, the relationship between humans and animals has been, for the most part, give and take. Where turkeys (or rather, their droppings) contribute to bio-fuel, concerned citizens have set up bee farms in vacant lots. Now seeing a rise in hedgehog road deaths in London, engineer Michel Birkenwald is creating special highways for the critters.
“It’s implying that hedgehogs are basically moving into our towns and cities,” [Emily] Wilson [of Hedgehog Streets] says. “They’re quite sturdy, and able to live alongside us quite well, as long as we make space for them and link green spaces together.”
Birkenwald and his animal-loving posse drill wall holes for free, allowing the prickly pedestrians to make safe crossing. Over the years, the real-life Sonic population has dwindled by 50% due to unwelcoming agricultural procedures. As compost-dwellers, “cleaner” farms don’t bode well for the spiky natives. Despite his life-saving deeds, Birkenwald is as humble as anyone.
“I am just an average guy who decided to help one of our most adorable mammals,” he says.
We’ll do anything for the cute and powerless.
Wind energy is nothing new, but it’s definitely improving. In fact, it’s powering homes in Australia and Denmark at pleasantly surprising rates. Now that other nations are catching onto its sheer efficiency, they’re brewing up other ways to utilize it. For Moya Power in London, it’s all about being creative. The pilot project will collect energy from tunnel drafts caused by speeding trains using simple plastic sheets.
“If we all live in cities that need electricity, we need to look for new, creative ways to generate it,” says [mastermind Charlotte] Slingsby… “I wanted to create something that works in different situations and that can be flexibly adapted, whether you live in an urban hut or a high-rise.”
Considering the constant movement of countryside families into cities, urban landscapes are demanding greater volumes of energy. As the war against fossil fuels continues to be precarious, alternative energy is very much welcome anywhere.
The yield is low compared to traditional wind power plants and is not able to power whole cities, but Slingsby sees Moya Power as just a single element in a mixture of urban energy sources.
Realizing that subway tunnels might be the windiest parts of an otherwise gloomy city now makes a lot of sense. Who knew?
Incentives such as edible coffee capsules and money-back deposits are finally making rounds in popular cafes. Though sustainable coffee has caused a significant ripple in the waste world, old habits die hard. To encourage coffeegoers to indulge in reusable tumblers, Starbucks is charging Londoners 5p for paper cups.
“To that end we will be exploring the impact that a cup charge may have in changing behaviour in addition to the measures we, and the whole industry, are taking on cup recycling,” [said Starbucks in an official statement.]
While Starbucks’ paper cups are recyclable, its thin sliver of plastic lining isn’t. Still, everyone’s go-to caffeine stop is better off than most. Plus, the cup money it raises will fund a “behavior change study” in the hopes of encouraging consumers to go green.
“We will investigate the impact of a 5p charge on a paper cup, coupled with prominent marketing of reusable cups, on customer behaviour,” the statement continues.
Well, folks — mug season starts today!