Locals recommend sustainable shopping experiences in London
Retail therapy is often synonymous with London travel. But with plastic-filled products, ever-changing fashion trends and a use-and-throw culture, it often comes at a huge cost to the planet. We reached out to some conscious London residents for recommendations on mindful or sustainable shopping in London, with a focus on places that offer low-waste, upcycled, thrifted and artisan-made products.
Indie shopping at Camden Market and Spitalfields Market
London has much to offer ethical shoppers and vegan foodies, with its many markets, independent small businesses, and cafés. As a decade-old picky vegan and reluctant shopper, I’ve been pleased with my ‘finds’ in London over the last five years. My tryst with indie shopping started in Camden Market with a bottle of jasmine perfume from a now unfindable perfumer. Camden also introduced me to minimalistic leaf wallets and bags by Thamon, which hold up beautifully over time. The market is also a vegan food paradise with Purezza (best pizza in London!) and Magic Falafel, both must-trys.
In East London, Spitalfields Market has my heart. My replacement vegan perfume came from an indie store there, as did my sister’s favorite well-worn Husky T-shirt. From here, strolling down to The Gallery Cafe for addictive vegan coffees, pastries and cakes, and then to oh-so-serene Victoria Park makes for a lovely day out.
Recommended by Aparna Pasumarthy. Aparna is a passionate vegan and researcher. She often feels lost and continues looking for tiny glimmers of hope in a volatile world. Follow Aparna on Instagram.
Organic products at Surrey Dock Farm, Surrey Quay
While we are always on the road, taking flights, moving fast, and changing scenery all the time, it is nice to stay locally while at home. We have been living in London for over 8 years now and have changed boroughs within all sides of the city in search of the perfect place to stay. In Surrey Quays, we found our comfort zone.
Within walking distance, there is Surrey Docks Farm, a sustainable environment that aims to educate people about farming and food production. Of course, it’s the favorite place for families with kids. We love their cafe, which sells only organic products, with ingredients from the farm, with a low impact on waste and the environment.
Surrey Dock Farm is the best place to relax and recharge for a few hours, without the need of journey outside of London. All the profits go to maintain the farm and expand the range of activities. Well, the farm also offers interactive workshops and experiences to kids and adults. You will learn how to maintain a vegetable garden in your backyard, animal rescue, or daily maintenance of the steading. The farm is really one of loveliest sustainable travel experiences in London.
Recommended by Toti & Ale, a UK travel couple living in London for the past 10 years. They are the creators behind Passport and Stamps and Curious Little Trips, two award-winning travel blogs focusing on authentic experiences and sustainable travel. Their passion for slow travel and sustainable journeys led them to travel 9 months around Asia, connecting with local communities and experiencing once-in-a-lifetime moments like NYEPI in Bali.
Upcycled products at The Home of Sustainable Things, Barnsbury Street
As someone who has lived in the UK, it has been great to see the country evolving over the years when it comes to sustainable living and zero-waste options. Being the capital, London has some of the best options, be it clothing, groceries or household items. One of my favorites is The Home of Sustainable Things, located at Barnsbury Street in London. I love picking up household items when shopping, and this store has many of them; all of them recycled or upcycled. Imagine artisan-made homewares like tableware from discarded eggshells that look good, and are durable and sustainable!
I came across the store while wandering around London; it has been one of my favorite ‘go-to’s’ to this day. Not only does the store stock homewares, but it also has other items such as bags made from innovative materials such as ‘Malai’ – a fabric made from coconut and banana fibre, making the store one of the most unique and eco-friendly in London!
Recommended by Lavina Dsouza, an analyst and freelance travel writer based in the UK and writes about travel with a focus on food and culture on ContinentHop.
Vintage clothing at Brixton Markets
If vintage clothing and alternative neighborhoods are your kind of vibe then you will definitely want to pay a visit to always bustling Brixton Market, at the southern end of the Victoria tube line in south west London. There are several sustainable clothing stores here that will keep you busy. You can start with Rachel and Malika’s in Brixton Village. This store is owned by two friends who sell fair trade and sustainably made jewellery and soft furnishings from west Africa.
Make Do and Mend in Pop Brixton is a go-to for upcycled vintage fashion. The Keep is an upmarket boutique in Brixton Village which features organic, vegan and zero-waste lines of clothing. Last but not least, every Saturday there is a retro and vintage market which features many independent designers and small businesses that sell sustainability-inspired clothing and small furnishings. There’s plenty of great food too!
Recommended by Ellie Cleary who was born in London and lived there for the first 30 years of her life.