Going green in London

The rare sunshine on 9 June this summer seemed a good omen as I disembarked the tube at Regent’s Park station. With not a clue as to what direction I should be headed, I wandered a bit (across the road—back across now in the right direction—past some gardens, those seemed promising—finally through the park) until I stumbled upon my destination: the London Green Fair.

London Green Fair - Books for Free Booth

London Green Fair – Books for Free Booth

For many tourists visiting London in the summer, an eco-festival of different stalls, speakers, performances and workshops might not make the list of must-see places—but it should! The fair had an open and invigorating atmosphere, with every booth offering not only friendly conversation but also a unique take on sustainability. Whether it be giving out free trees to offset the combined carbon impact of everyone’s travels to the event, or selling homemade, chemical-free soaps, the stallholders truly embodied the heart of the festival and the reason we were all there—to celebrate, enable, and inspire a green lifestyle. The food vendors, children’s activities, speaker’s forum tent, and various workshops that were scattered throughout the fair also made for a fun event.

Although I wanted to visit the fair anyway, I was fortunate enough to also get to experience it from the perspective of a true member of the community when I volunteered with Healthy Planet, where I am interning for the summer. By helping Camen and Olivia at the Books for Free booth, I could see firsthand the amazing potential this initiative has as a positive impact on the community, even aside from the environmental implications of reducing landfill by reusing books. The good in encouraging people to read and even in just celebrating reading seemed palpable in the immediate atmosphere around the booth. A kind of excitement was definitely present, with every visitor equal parts incredulous and delighted that they were actually being given free books with no catch.

Actually, as it turns out, the Books for Free scheme has a bit of history with the London Green Fair—back at the festival in May 2010 was the trial run for our initiative. Two years later, with 5 stores opening just this past week and adding to an assemblage of over 25 stores nationwide, I would say that the fair helped create quite a legacy for what is now our most popular initiative. And aside from being an initial enabler for its success, the fair is truly just too pleasant of an experience for Healthy Planet to stay away—we were really in our element there.

Visiting the London Green Fair and volunteering at the Books for Free booth have definitely comprised a highlight of my summer here. Even though I am but a temporary visitor to the UK, the close and friendly community feel of this event made London feel just a little bit smaller.

You can read more about the fair and its attendees on the website, http://www.londongreenfair.org/.

This blog was written by Meg (Healthy Planet Intern)

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