These days, it's hard for the would-be eco-friendly shopper to know where to shop and what to buy. News reports about global warming get scarier every week, with alarming statistics and shocking images flooding our news apps and social media feeds. It's safe to say that most of us want to do our bit to change our habits and help save the environment before we all get burned to a crisp by rising temperatures, but it's all too easy to feel overwhelmed and bury your head in the rapidly flooding sands.
In this little guide, we've pulled together the incredible Brighton businesses that are making it easy to make a difference. From zero-waste restaurants to zero-emission travel – there's a tonne of local heroes doing their bit around the city. Support these lovely lot, and you can rest assured that you're making good choices.
Make sure you check out our eco-friendly campaign, BYO Lunchbox. Saving the world, one lunchbox at a time.
The idea for Happy Maki was born after owner Anna returned from working on an organic black Tahitian pearl farm in French Polynesia. Inspired by the beautiful oceans she'd spent months working on, upon returning to the UK she researched marine issues further and came up with The Happy Maki concept. She aims to raise awareness of these issues and improve the appeal of veganism.
For every sushi wrap bought from Happy Maki they donate 7p to Mary’s Meals, they provide life changing meals to some of the world’s poorest children, in turn helping them to gain an education and improve their own lives as well as their communities. So far they have provided 111,590 meals to hungry children.
They're are also doing their bit to tackle the destruction of forests in Haiti, Madagascar and Nepal by donating 8p to Eden - A reforestation project that helps to employ local villagers to plant millions of trees every year. The Eden Project provides the farmers with a decent income so they can provide for their families, and start to rebuild healthy forests once again. Happy Maki have so far helped to plant 66,466 trees.
Life Natural Spring Water is a British water brand, with a conscience. They're on a mission to make a difference wherever they can, by raising the bar of what consumers should expect from their everyday products. Every Life Water drink funds clean water projects across the globe, through charity partner, drop4drop.org, as part of their joint mission to alleviate the World Water Crisis.
They've also recently introduced the UK’s first #ZeroPlasticSolution to water on the go - the Life Water Can. An infinitely recyclable alternative to plastic bottles, every can is 100% recyclable, made from recycled aluminium and BPA free. Every can also funds clean water projects across the globe. The Life Water Can is supported by Greenpeace and Glastonbury Festival. They also sponsor our local BTN BikeShare scheme, getting us fit and healthy by cycling around the city and cutting down on CO2 emissions.
Brighton has been firing ahead on its mission for greener, more sustainable living for quite some time now, so it was really only a matter of time before it married it with its greatest passion - food. Enter Silo Brighton: the first zero-waste restaurant/café in the UK.
(Bio) fuelled by a love for great food made from ethical, local produce in peak season, Silo delivers equally on flavour and nutrition, with the menu completely dependent on whatever flora may be growing in Sussex’s farms and fields. Head chef Doug McMaster coined Silo’s mission statement, which sees them make everything from scratch, in Melbourne in 2012. According to him, forgoing the middle man also forgoes the stripping of vital flavour. In short, it’s food as it should be.
Based on the London Road but with rumblings of more stores on the way, HiSbe is a social enterprise that “puts happiness before profits.”
They're on a mission to ignite a revolution by making good food accessible, affordable, local, seasonal and ethical. They (like us) support independents, pay fair prices and value local farmers and suppliers. They champion quality and health in a bid to transform the food industry and encourage shoppers to be conscious of their buying habits.
They have over 100 dispensed products in store so there's no need for single-use plastic packaging, just bring along a container with you, fill up and you're good to go! They're also campaigning to help Brighton go completely plastic-free.
The Grand Daddy of the Brighton food scene, Infinity Foods has been supplying ethically sourced vegetarian and vegan foods since 1971. A collective that gives a proportion of their profits to charity, Infinity has both a large store with an in-store bakery, operating since 1976, as well as a café, both situated in the North Laine.
They choose organic because they think it's important to have a wider and broader view of the way they work with nature. It’s a simple shortcut to so many benefits and reassurance that the food has been grown and produced in a way that’s better for our health, for the animals and for the planet. When food is certified organic it means there are no artificial additives, preservatives or GM ingredients so it’s really just food as it should be.
The guys behind Bison Beer truly believe there's a beer for every occasion, and you’re sure to find it at this quality bottleshop down on East Street. Stocking beers from all around the globe and their own fresh brews too, you’re sure to find the perfect one for you. You can even use the store iPad to match your dinner to one of their beers.
They’re also the first shop to bring draught ‘growlers’ to Brighton (approx. 1.9 litre amber glass bottles). With a state-of-the-art counter-pressure filling system, you’re able to fill up your reusable growler with any of the drafts beers in store, staying fresh for up to six weeks without any loss of carbonation. Reusable, eco-friendly and boozy, we like it.
Using fairly traded products, sourcing locally where possible, and using high-grade organic ingredients, Brighton Gin is certified vegan by the Vegan Society (and yes, that also includes the wax and the gum for the labels). They deliver sustainably wherever they can with their gin bikes, and the residues from the distillation process are composted. The bottles are made in England from 40% recycled glass, and the distillation process uses a special water cooling system which means they can recycle water rather than pouring it down the drain. They've also pledged never use plastic straws again, good on 'em!
And as part of their commitment to the city which helped make Brighton Gin popular, they support community events such as beach cleans and local charities such as the Rainbow Trust, donating a proportion of proceeds from their specially designed Brighton Pride bottles.
Aside from the obvious, being animal friendly, there are other ways a vegan diet can help to save the world.
Meat and dairy production is responsible for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the products themselves provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein levels around the world. Cutting these products from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73%. It can also help to conserve water - a recent study showed that a soy burger has a water footprint of 158 litres, whilst a beef burger has a water footprint of 2,350 litres, that’s a 1387% increase in water usage. The production of plant-based foods is a far more efficient use of our resources, as it requires less energy from fossil fuels, less land and less water. By removing animal products from our diet we can play a vital role in reducing the damaging effects on our environment.
Plus we're lucky enough in Brighton to have more vegan restaurants than you can shake a (celery) stick at. Here are our favourites.
In 2006 a group of people got together in a pub in Brighton to discuss public transport and decided to set up a Community Interest Company to provide affordable and environmentally-sustainable bus services in the local area. Soon afterwards The Big Lemon was born. Their core values are community, sustainability and innovation, and their mission is to enable everyone to get around their community in an affordable, enjoyable and environmentally-sustainable way.
Originally running all the buses on recycled waste cooking oil from local restaurants, The Big Lemon launched the UK’s first solar-powered electric bus in 2017 and we they’re now converting the entire bus fleet to electric. Electricity to power the buses is provided by solar panels on the roof of the bus depot.
There are six local bus services currently in operation in the Brighton area and a wide variety of coach services both locally and nationally.
The Food Partnership was started by local residents in 2003, and they now have over 10 staff delivering a range of projects. They're a not-for-profit organisation and work with a wide range of partners including community organisations, statutory agencies, local businesses and individual residents.
Some of their projects include the new Community Kitchen on Queens Road that aims to inspire everyone to cook more from scratch – from beginners to experienced cooks. They can help you learn new recipes and techniques, or just brush up on your culinary skills. They can also help you get involved in one of the community gardens in Brighton & Hove or join a community composting schemes. Their Casserole Club scheme connects lonely or isolated people with a neighbour who can bring round a portion of food, and they also work tirelessly to tackle food waste with tactics such as giving advice on cutting back on supermarket spend, or intercepting food destined for landfill and giving it to those most in need.
The Real Junk Food Project Brighton is a national and international movement of cafes, projects and pop-ups with one core objective: To intercept food waste destined for landfill and use it to feed people who need it, on a ‘pay as you feel’ basis.
In the UK, 2 million people are estimated to be malnourished, while the UK as a whole creates an estimated 15 million tonnes of food waste every year. The Real Junk Food Project wants to find a solution by bringing two problems together; to use food that was previously thought of as ‘surplus’ to feed people who may have otherwise gone hungry.
The innovative ‘pay as you feel’ concept encourages people to think about what that plate of food means to them, and value it in whatever way they can. The project has a food shop based in Bevendean that takes donations from independent shops, supermarkets and wholesalers to redistribute.
People will be able to make financial contributions in exchange for goods, or donate their time through volunteering at the shop. They also operate three surplus food cafes in the city, in One Church in Gloucester Place, Hollingdean Community Centre and St Luke’s Church, Old Shoreham Road, on various days of the week. The project saves about six tonnes of food every month and feeds up to 2,000 people a month in its cafes.
Old Tree on Lewes Road is a botanical brewery that produces delicious low alcohol and soft drinks to support the creation of drink forest gardens. Their brews, made with live cultures and natural fermentation, offer locally-made alternatives to mass-produced drinks.
Their mission is to revive the secrets of ancient brewing and forest culture through community gardening and fermentation. They’re building a network for regenerative agriculture by producing living drinks for living soil.
Their vision is for a world where the full powers of plants and microbes are harnessed for social, ecological and economic good – a brewery that operates, well, like an old tree.
Harriet’s of Hove is a food, toiletries and kitchen products refills store with a difference. It is the only completely plastic free packaging shop in Hove and offers shoppers a new experience. As well as refills, the store offers unpackaged seasonal vegetables, a wide range of bamboo products and many more sustainable items for people to rid unnecessary plastics from their daily lives. Whether you are a sustainability expert or simply curious about the environment, Harriet’s of Hove will offer something for everyone, with the focus on helping our planet.
If you know of any other standout Brighton businesses that are doing their bit for the environment, we'd love to feature them. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.