Zero waste shops and vegan restaurants: What makes Bristol the second most eco-friendly city in the UK

Zero waste shops and vegan restaurants: What makes Bristol the second most eco-friendly city in the UK

A recent study has named Bristol the second most environmentally friendly city in the UK.

The study by HometoGo saw Bristol just lose out to south-coast Brighton.

The survey was judged by a number of factors including recycling activity, air quality and  the number of vegan restaurants.

Bristol is famous for its forward-thinking approach to eco-concerns and passion for green activities such as cycling, but how are Bristol businesses making the city so eco-friendly?

The affect of single-use coffee cups

In April 2018 popular south-west café chain Boston Tea Party took the step of banning the sale of single-use coffee cups in all of their stores.

“We as a business have always had ethics and sustainability at the core of what we do,” explained Ben Hibbard, marketing manager for Boston Tea Party.

“The nature of a takeaway cup is when you leave a café it could end up on the street, it could be thrown out a window, it could end up anywhere. Even if there are recycling provisions, it doesn’t mean it is getting recycled.”

Boston Tea Party were handing out over 300,000 single-use coffee cups across all of their stores each year.

While the ban was received positively by campaigners across the country, Boston Tea Party have seen sales fall by £250,000 in the last year.

Despite the financial loss, Boston Tea Party are challenging other businesses to not be put off the idea and move forward with environmentally considerate methods.

“We launched on the first of June last year and since them we have stopped about 130,000 single-use cups being used,”

BTP have also sold around 40,000 reusable coffee cups in that time, selling at cost price to encourage other businesses to do the same.

“From our point of view there were various different options. There are plant based and compostable solutions on the market but none of them are the perfect solution. So we we felt the most ethical and sustainable solution we could take was to ban them completely and encourage our customers to come in with reusable cups.”

“We think this is the long term solution to the single-use cup problem, and we need to show others that it will not impact their business.”

BTP do have questions for the people of Bristol, concerning their willingness to commit to climate-friendly solutions.

“There’s definitely a mindset in Bristol of people who are more inclined to support ethical businesses,” Hibbard explained.

“Having said that, the café’s that are seeing the biggest sales declines are the Bristol ones.”

Numerous Bristol businesses have called for government intervention, with suggestions of forcing restaurants and take aways to follow recycling guidelines.

“I think at some point government intervention will happen. There will be some sort of tax or levy that will go onto single-use plastic or packaging in general. Within the next few years there will be more operators doing something similar. That’s not just the hospitality industry. The huge amount of packaging that things come in will need to be looked at in the future.”

Meat-free meals out

Vegan restaurants have increasingly become a part of the make up of a modern city, with Bristol having four vegan restaurants per capita.

A 2018 study by researchers at the university of Oxford suggested that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet is the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental footprint, reducing it by up to 70%.

Vegan café VX Vegan Junk Food on East Street in Bedminster, has become one of the most popular restaurants for vegans and non-vegans alike in Bristol.

“As a vegan, I basically wanted to have a place where everything was vegan, which didn’t exist when I moved here in 2014” said Amandine from VX.

“People on a vegan diet usually try to consume less packaging, to use local products and to consume from independent businesses more than big corporations.”

Amandine believes that the number of vegan businesses are a sign that Bristol is more eco-friendly, but thinks businesses should take this as a challenge to tailor their menus to a more vegan diet.

“Everything in VX is vegan, from the food to the cleaning products.

“I hope that it could be an inspiration for others businesses.”

Shopping plastic free

“We felt kind of useless about not being able to do anything about the single-use plastic problem” said Stacey, co-owner of Zero Green.

Since opening in 2018, Zero Green on North Street has become one of the main alternative shops of choice for eco-conscious shoppers.

The shop does not include packaging for it’s products, instead asking customers to bring their own containers when they shop for cereals, grains and nuts.

They also look to solve the issue by selling plastic free deodorants, water bottles and coffee cups.

“I think there are a lot of people (in Bristol) who have the right mindset to do good things” explained Stacey.

“As a city we could potentially do a hell of a lot more. We’ve had minimal interest from council and local government.

“There are now three zero waste shops in Bristol, so there’s real opportunity for people in Bristol to jump on that and take it further.

“Food is something tangible. It’s something they can see when their recycling goes out.”

In March this year the Bristol Waste Company, a Bristol council-owned organisation, started the Waste Nothing Challenge, which challenged Bristol residents to try and cut down on their waste produce for a year.

Bristol currently has eleven Green Party councillors, making up 15% of the Bristol City Council.

The Park Street location is one cafe following the no single-use coffee cup scheme




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