We Londoners produce over three million tons of rubbish a year, and only recycle 17 percent of it. We soak up energy for heating, lighting and entertainment, and spew pollution from our cars. Frankly, we‘re a disgrace. Luckily, it‘s not too late for you to get green. Just follow TO‘s guide to cheap and fun ways to clear your conscience, clean up the capital and – the big one – save the planet.
Cabbies with a conscienceOf course it would be great if everyone walked, or cycled, or at least used public transport, but the truth is people are always going to want to climb in a cab, kick off their shoes and breathe a sigh of relief. West Londoners, at least, can now do this with a clearer conscience thanks to the launch last week of Green Tomato Cars, a Hammersmith-based private hire firm dedicated to saving energy and cutting pollution. The brainchild of Tom Packenham (28) and Jonny Goldstone (29) – two ex-City lawyers who met at Cambridge – the venture is something of a jump in the dark. ‘It’s a big old risk,’ says Packenham, ‘but it feels so right to be doing it.’ The company’s fleet consists only of the Toyota Prius, which looks like a normal saloon car but has an engine that runs on a combination of petrol and electric battery, resulting in only half the carbon dioxide emissions of a traditional black cab. In slow-moving traffic (ie throughout London) the electric battery takes over completely, meaning no nasty emissions and virtually no engine noise. On faster roads, where more oomph is required, the petrol bit kicks in and lets the electric battery recharge itself – thereby negating the need to plug the car in and charge it at the mains. At top speeds the petrol engine also gets a boost from the battery. Customer service is equally as important as being green and drivers are all fully licensed, trained and conversant with Green Tomato’s environmental implications. ‘Being green used to mean paying more for worse service,’ says Packenham, ‘but we intend to emulate the best of the other cab firms if we are going to compete.’ If a driver (male or female – there are plans to employ female drivers, which lone women will be able to request) is held up and will be more than five minutes late, Green Tomato promises to call or send a text. Customers can also ask for the name and numberplate of the driver in advance to be sure they’re getting into the right car. Packenham and Goldstone are starting with a fleet of five cars, which will operate in and around west London, but plan to expand fast, extending the service to the whole of London after the summer. ‘We want to attract everybody: people who care about the environment, corporate clients who want to show that they’re not just chasing profits, and people who just want a cab that is comfortable, fast and doesn’t break down.’Green Tomato Cars (020 8748 8881/ www.greentomatocars.com).Solar powered homeCommunity garden
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