Local shops and initiatives that champion sustainable living

Want to reduce your carbon footprint? We round up the environmentally friendly shops and projects to get involved with in and around Roman Road.

Green living in the East End is a priority, with Tower Hamlets council pledging to make the borough net-zero by 2045 (or sooner). As welcome as this plan is, many local shops and social enterprises have been working on inspiring projects that champion sustainable living.

We pick some of the best businesses and social enterprises that offer sustainable shopping choices, alternatives to shopping altogether or ways that you can volunteer your time to help tackle climate change.

Sustainable restaurants

Interior of MOTHER, the vegan cafe at Here East.
The inside of Möther, one of Hackney Wick’s vegan cafe © Social Streets CIC

Silo

Food waste (and the sheer amount produced every year) is never far from the headlines. In London alone, between 1.5 and 1.75 millon tonnes of food waste is generated each year. Silo is the world’s first zero-waste restaurant and is an antidote to the sky-high levels of waste generated through mainstream food production. At Silo, everything from the ingredients in the delectable menu of small plates to the natural wine selection is chosen to be as kind to the planet as possible. The furniture is up-cycled and every product delivered to the restaurant comes in reusable packaging. Ethical dining has never tasted so good.

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

MÖTHER

Once limited to lentils and lettuce, plant-based food has never been more varied and delicious. As well as getting to explore a new culinary world, eating a more plant-based diet could reduce your carbon footprint by 73%. On-hand to help you ditch dairy, Hackney Wick’s MOTHER is a vegan cafe, whose eco-conscious values extends beyond the food. Every aspect of the cafe has been created to reduce waste, from the juices served in glass bottles (with a discount if you bring back a reused bottle) to fermenting surplus fruit and vegetables to avoid wasting anything. Their eclectic brunch menu features a mouthwatering Sunday roast sandwich, bombay toasties and rich tahini and halva brownies. 

Address: 1 Canalside, Here East Estate, E20 3BS

Sustainable shops

Looking into the shop front of Tuck Shop, Fish Island, East London.
Tuck Shop is plastic-free has refill options available. Photography: Jake Costain and Samantha Scott

Animo

A yoga studio that combines sun salutations with sustainable shopping. As well as running a full programme that includes post-natal yoga (babies are welcome), Pilates and flows for all levels, Animo also has a recently-renovated store that stocks everyday essentials and luxurious treats such as soy wax candles and intricate jewellery. Every product uses eco-friendly packaging and is sourced from artisans that share Animo’s passion for sustainability. Stockists include Ede skincare which uses natural, organically farmed essential oils in their skin oils, and Cork Yogis which sell yoga products made out of cork (as its name suggests), a natural product that encourages tree growth when it is harvested. If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly way to restock your skincare shelf or wardrobe, this is the place to go.

Address: 475 Roman Road, E3 5LX

Spitalfields Crypt Trust

Fast fashion has a huge impact on the environment, contributing to around 10% of all global carbon emissions and uses around 1.5 trillion litres of water every year. However, the low prices of online shopping can make it oh-so-tempting to buy something new every week. Luckily, there are some incredible charity shops on and around Roman Road, which can help you update your wardrobe in an eco-friendly way. Pay Spitalfields Crypt Trust a visit and browse their racks of high street, vintage and designer clothing, and collection of upcycled furniture and homeware. They also have an excellent Depop site, which is regularly updated with new arrivals. As well as bagging an outfit for a fraction of what it costs new, you’ll also be funding their projects working with vulnerable people in the local community. If you catch the charity shopping bug, there’s also Lamas Pyjamas and Ayoka nearby.

Address: 589 Roman Road, E3 5EL

Tuck Shop

If you’re trying to reduce the amount of plastic that comes with your weekly shop, local grocer Tuck Shop has you covered. Founded by a local East London couple, Tuck Shop is focused on making food shopping as sustainable as possible. To help reduce the shop’s carbon footprint, the food it stocks is locally sourced and includes pasta from Hackney, and cheese from Neals Yard Dairy in London. Its fresh produce, including fruit and vegetables, is plastic-free and it has refill options available for a range of staple ingredients. 

Address: 2 Casings Way, Fish Island, E3 2TH

Sustainable projects and activities

London Buddhist Centre in Globe Town
London Buddhist Centre runs weekly mindfulness and meditation classes.

Roman Road Trust

A mainstay of the Roman Road sustainability scene, Roman Road Trust has been running projects for years that help to promote sustainability in the area. The Trust has supported the launch of community gardens and sustainable living initiatives and is currently developing a new community centre called The Common Room, which will be launched in Summer 2022 on Ford Road. Here, residents will be able to showcase their sustainable living talents. Everything from clothes mending, to bike maintenance workshops will be available to take part in, to encourage people to fix what they have rather than buy brand new.

Address: Ford Road, Old Ford, E3 5EA

Sunny Jar Eco Hub

This East London social enterprise has green living at the heart of all its activities. Throughout the year they run workshops in partnership with Tower Hamlets Council for people who want to learn how to lie more sustainable. These include running classes to teach people how to upcycle and mend clothes at Bow Ideas Store and plastic-free workshops at Polar Union. If you want to learn how to use up the leftover veg that you don’t have a recipe idea for, you can attend their Zero Waste Cooking workshops at The Create Place, St Margaret’s House.

Workshops are held at a range of venues. Visit their website and social media for details.

London Buddhist Centre

If you’ve ever wondered how you can quell the urge to ‘add to basket’ on a regular basis, then look no further than the mindfulness and meditation classes at the London Buddhist Centre. Every day, the Centre runs in-person and online lunchtime and evening classes that are perfect for both beginners and those who are familiar with the practice. Not only can meditation and mindfulness help with anxiety and stress but also encourage contentment from within which is the best antidote to overconsumption and impulse buying.

Address: 51 Roman Road, E2 0HU

Local recycling initiatives

One of the kindest things we can do for our planet is to give the things we no longer need a new life. However, it can be tricky to know how to recycle items that don’t belong in your green bin. Below are just some of the local initiatives that recycle everything from batteries to TVs.

Batteries

If your batteries have run out of juice, you can recycle them while you do your food shop, as retailers that sell more than 32kg of batteries every year are now required to have a battery recycling point. You can find these at the Co-op, 250a Globe Road, E2 0LX, and Sainsbury’s, 291 Cambridge Heath Road E2 0EL amongst dozens of other retailers.

Clothes 

If your clothes are too damaged or worn out they may not be suitable to give to a charity shop. However, you can still recycle the materials at textile recycling points to give your clothes a new lease of life as blankets or furniture stuffing. There is a recycling point on Roman Road next to the Bethnal Green Fire Station and one on Wennington Road. You can find their exact locations and additional recycling points on the Tower Hamlets Council website.

Electrical items 

When your TV or laptop needs an upgrade, there are a couple of ways you can recycle your old one. If the item is still in good condition, you could donate it to the Spitalfields Crypt Trust or give it to someone through the Tower Hamlets Freecycle website. 

If you have several items that are beyond repair, you can use a service like Square Box Recycling, which collects and recycles a minimum of seven electrical items for free, including smaller items like hairdryers, electric toothbrushes, toys and toasters.

Food waste 

Did you know that you can turn your old fruit and vegetable waste into compost? If you get in touch with Tower Hamlets council you can request a composter or wormery from £10.

Furniture 

The options for recycling furniture depends on the condition that it’s in. If the item is in good condition, you can sell it on Facebook marketplace or give it away on Freecycle. Charities, including the British Heart Foundation, collect furniture in good condition from E3 postcodes and the surrounding areas. If your furniture is beyond repair, you can contact Tower Hamlets council which will organise a bulky waste collection of up to five items.

If you enjoyed this, then read our guide on the best vegan cafes near Roman Road.

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