Coming to good old England and expecting the stereotyped conservative atmosphere on the island...This is what happened to me. It turned out to be completely different from what I expected. To be honest I was quite perplexed when I found out that Bristol, the city I was going to live in, had the title green capital. Thinking of the island with all its green fields and more sheep than human inhabitants, this should maybe not surprise me. But on the other hand you tend to think of London, one of the busiest cities in the world and of the industrialization that was triggered in England not too far ago.
The truth is, Bristol is an amazing example for a city that shows commitment in environmental recovery and sustainable living. And Bristolians are proud about it! The flag of the green Capital can be found in a lot of places in the city centre and parks are always looked after. Basically the City deserves the title. There is access to a lot of green, natural places all around. Located near the mouth of the Avon, wildlife can be found at the other side of the river, such as Long Ahston and the Leigh Woods. These places are protected by the Wildlife Trust, as well as th Dudham Downs on top of the massive cliffs that stretch along the river.
When going to these places, which can be done easily by foot or bike, you feel like being in a refuge from the business of city lifestyle. Hands down you can even forget that you are actually living in a city. A landscape of woods with old, high trees or plain grass hills can indeed be really stunning!
In addition to the green surroundings and the implemented green places in the centre, the city provides its citizens with a great opportunities for sustainable living. Generally in England the big companies and chains are normally far more established and already forced independent stores to shut down. But here in Bristol, local and independent shops seem to emerge drastically. This supports farmers around Bristol and also creates a form of solidarity amongst the Bristolians. In one of the most "alternative" areas here, Stokes Croft, it is even proscribed to buy supplies in a supermarket such as Tesco. People tend to go to the small fruit and vegetable shops and bakeries.
Restaurants who sell home-made, seasional and organic food are most popular. It seems to be literally everywhere. These words follow you more here than "Mc Donalds", "KFC", "Subway". Of course, I can not state that there still is enough of these chain restaurants around and that people would not use the meal deals with prepared food in "Sainsburys". But still it is amazing how good most of the local restaurants and take-aways are running.
As vegan I also expected to have some difficulties with food here in the UK. It proved to be no problem at all. So many places offer vegan meals or are even completely vegetarian or vegan. It seems to belong to the environmental awareness that is fighting with all the traffic and insutrial polution in Bristols air.
Whether it is just a label that follows a trend or whether Bristol will keep this lifetyle, no one can tell you. The fact is that it definately is a Green Capital and also an wonderful place to live as a young person who wants to support sustainability.