30 ways to be a better Londoner



Add +

There are enough things in London to put you in a bad mood but here are 30 ways to prove your capital mettle and shower beneficence upon your fellow humans

  • 30 ways to be a better Londoner

    Brighten someone's day by giving them a hug

  • What would make London a nicer place? Tell us

    1. Fork out for pork

    British pig farmers are buckling under rising wheat prices and cut-price continental imports. Spend a bit more on prime cuts from butchers who source meat from UK farms. www.pigsareworthit.com

    2. Turn coffee into charity

    Skip buying just one coffee a week and Direct Debit the £5 saved each month to a charity. Even better? Set up the donation through your payroll – the charity will get even more. www.shelter.org.uk

    3. Beautify the railways

    All it takes is a handful of British wildflower seeds, an open train window and, in a couple of months, hey presto: you have a beautiful floral trackside verge. www.reallywildflowers.co.uk

    4. Spring a surprise sit-down

    Try giving up your seat to someone who doesn’t actually need it – someone who isn’t elderly, pregnant or carrying heavy shopping – and make their day.

    5. Expand someone’s mind

    When you finish a book, leave it on the tube for someone else to read. Same with your newspaper: read it, fold it… and pass it on.

    6. Dress folk up nice

    You only wear around 20 per cent of your wardrobe. Go through the rest and give your local charity shop a bag of decent, ideally designer, clothes. And don’t just leave the bag on the doorstep: make sure you take it in.

    7. Be a bleeding heart

    If someone you love needed a blood transfusion, you’d expect blood to be available. Yet only 4 per cent of the eligible population donate. Give some today! www.blood.co.uk

    8. Cultivate a window garden

    Make London a prettier place and grow flowers, herbs or small vegetables in window boxes.

    9. Make a friend at the till

    Don’t speak on your phone while you’re being served. Instead of routinely ignoring the city’s cash-register stalwarts, ask them how their day is going.

    10. Lend a helping hand with a pram

    Don’t just stand there! Help lift baby and buggy up or down the stairs.

    11. Donate your bits

    Last year, more than 400 people died waiting for a transplant. Register as an organ donor and save people when you die. www.uktransplant.org.uk

    12. Support your local grocers

    Kiss goodbye to the weekly supermarket sweep. Instead, do your shop in a local independent and you’ll be making a real difference. www.tescopoly.org

    13. Recycle, recycle, recycle…

    Sixty per cent of the refuse Londoners throw away could be recycled. www.recycleforlondon.com
    See our guide to being a greener Londoner

    14. Organise a ‘Walk to School’ event

    October is Walk to School month. Suggest your child’s school start a scheme to encourage pupils to walk, such as Walk on Wednesdays. www.walktoschool.org.uk

    15. Keep it quiet – part 1

    If you must chat on your phone in an enclosed public space, at least keep the volume down. Especially if you’re busy telling someone what form of transport you’re on.

    16. Keep it quiet – part 2

    Ringtones that sound like frogs, water or ‘Axel F’ by Harold Faltermeyer aren’t as amusing as you think they are.

    17. Use planet-friendly power

    Gain brownie – or should that be greenie? – points: transfer to a more environmentally friendly energy supplier. greenenergy.uk.com

    18. Hold a self-raising cake sale

    Ask people in your office to bake, sell the results to your colleagues for afternoon tea and donate the money: virtue and snacks.

    19. Leave a charitable legacy

    Leave money to your favourite charity in your will. Don’t think it’s just for lonely spinsters bequeathing piles of cash to cats – although it can be. www.rememberacharity.org.uk

    20. Convince a pal to register with the Anthony Nolan Trust

    Bone-marrow transplants save lives. The trust is critically short of male potential donors of black and ethnic origin.

    21. Matchmake a mate on the sly

    Recommend someone you know on www.mysinglefriend.com, and watch as romance either blossoms or burns down.

    22. Take a selfless break

    Need a holiday but worried about being self-indulgent? Try volunteering abroad from £10 a week. www.originalvolunteers.co.uk

    23. Prise a handout from your handset

    Got a new phone? Request a Freepost envelope from either www.envirophone.co.uk or www.mazumamobile.com, post them back your old mobile and donate the cash they give you to charity.

    24. Improve the international outlook

    Vision Aid Overseas collects old glasses from Vision Express opticians across London and sends them to developing countries. www.vao.org.uk/spectacles

    25. Be a good cyclist

    Yes, cycling is good but, please, don’t bully your way to the front of the cycle queue at the lights (it’s rude) and give pedestrians right of way wherever you can (it’s polite).

    26. Help the homeless

    Shelter doesn’t advocate giving homeless people cash. So if you want to help someone, ask them what they would like for lunch or dinner, then go and buy it. Don’t forget tea or coffee.

    27. Pick up a copy of The Big Issue

    It’ll cost you £1.50, the seller gets 80p and you get something decent to read on the tube. Win-win. www.bigissue.org.uk

    28. Stage a charity auction

    Sell something on eBay and donate some – or all – of the money to the charity of your choice. www.pages.ebay.co.uk/ebayforcharity

    29. Lend an ear

    If you’re a patient listener and over 18, you can volunteer for the Samaritans. You’ll get training at your local branch, and your empathy could be a godsend to people in difficult circumstances. www.samaritans.org

    30. Debag plastic waste

    The UK chucks 13 billion plastic bags a year. Carry one from Onya Bags (from £6.50), which folds up to keyring size. It also offers fully biodegradable bags for icky things. www.onyabags.co.uk

    What would make London a nicer place? Tell us

  • Add your comment to this feature

Users say


Number 8: I tried to but the drugs squad didn't like it and I was arrested.


Maybe British pig farmers should harvest wheat instead.


there's a whole lotta moaning among these comments. to all the whingers - how about some positivity? try it. ya might like it.


And I noticed that a lot of men are guilty of this; ie not giving a woman space to pass when there's no room to do so. Quite a few men just stand in the way with their arms and legs splayed all over the place, either be it in a train, a station, a convenience store or a shop.


Number 4 ahem, I've never seen anyone give up there seat to any of the above mention people. Never mind giving up your seat to just anyoone. When it comes to giving up seats on public transport, Londoners are a mean bunch.


Bloody men. Tsk.


To help a vital London institution, why not volunteer for London's Air Ambulance? The service provides vital emergency care to victims of major trauma within the M25, and desperately needs more volunteers to raise the necessary funds to keep the service operating. For more information, go to www.londonsairambulance.com, or e-mail info@londonsairambulance.com


Smiling at people really does work, and it makes you feel better aswel


Number 5. Come on, don't encourage people to leave more crap lying about. The detritus of utter rubbish from the Metro, London Lite and Londonpaper sums up our depressingly wasteful society. Show "beneficence upon your fellow humans"? Take your discarded mind-poverty-rags with you!


top of your list should be how to help young people in our communities...many of us want to help but don't know how to get started


Number 25. Why it is rude to go to the front in the traffic lights if you are riding your bike? surely this makes traffic more efficient.


how about we just go back to basics and try the 'smile at people' thing? it is the most effective and simple thing you could do. try it walking to the tube one morning, you might even like it!!!

Stuart Willson
Stuart Willson

Support the work of the RNLI's lifeboats on the Thames. Did you know that the RNLI has four lifeboats stations in London? Tower lifeboat station, which is situated near Waterloo Bridge, is the busiest of all the RNLI's 235 lifeboat stations, launching 265 times and rescuing 92 people in 2007. In total, the RNLI lifeboats on the Thames were launched 529 times in 2007 and rescued 226 people. The RNLI receives no UK government funding and relies on voluntary donations and legacies for its income. To find out more about the RNLI and how you can support the work of the RNLI, please go to www.rnli.org.uk or call the RNLI London office on 020 7839 3369.

Urban Ospreys
Urban Ospreys

1. Don't get a pig's throat cut for your pleasure, please. Number one priority - bring house prices down to the point where the average wage can afford the average life. Sell your property off the market and ethically.


I think this bitterness kind of misses the point of the article? I love no.3 and shall be buying seeds shortly! :D


Points 16 and 17, should include all those ignorant mp3 users who are not only driving their fellow commuters mad but also certainly ensuring they will become hard of hearing by the time they reach 60!!


It would make London a nicer place if people on trains wouldn't leave empty seats next to them so no-one else can squeeze in to sit down - come to think of it when people do squeeze in, saying a polite "excuse me", it'd be nice if people made the effort to move out of the way to let them in and not just sit there in the way. And speaking of trains, will all you men please stop splayng your legs all over the place, taking up all the seating room? Show some consideration for other people, will you?!