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Saturday, June 18, 2011

First Stop: England

For three days we walked around the city of London where new and old live side by side. London is definitely a beautiful city with lots to see. Besides historical places and beautiful parks, we did see some green trends in the city.

The first one to catch my eye was the living wall being built outside the The National Gallery. Next to a billboard that reads "Bringing art to life as never before", a panel that shows a replica of Van Gogh's 1889 painting A Wheat Field, with Cypress was being built. I was happy to learn that the wall is now finished and it looks awesome! I only took one not-very-good picture of the wall, but I was able to find more pictures posted at According to The National Gallery's website, the panel will be at display until the end of October 2011.

The replica just built was the first living wall created outside the National Gallery to mimic a painting, but London has other living walls in other spots of the city. Recently, the Mint Hotel near the Tower of London, for example, transformed its building's wall into the largest living wall in Europe. It is a very interesting concept of bringing some green into the buildings and large cities, but also debatable. The failure of the fist living wall of London built in 2006 for the Paradise Park Children's Center is an example that fuels the controversy of living walls being a questionable type of project. Something to keep in mind.

Another thing I noticed that seems very popular in London is hiring bicycles to go 'round town. We see Barclay's Cycle Hire bicycles being used everywhere with many docking stations in different parts of the city. The docking stations are just 300 yards apart from each other, making the bikes very accessible and a convenient way to move around. The price is also inviting: just £1 (yes, only one pound that is about US$1.50) per day and the first 30 minutes are free of charge. The price can get even lower if we buy an annual pass or have their membership. A great green way for grown-ups to do some sightseeing for little money.

And last but not least, I saw some interesting garbage cans that include recycling bins. The garbage cans are three-in-one containers that are used for recycling items (newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles, food and drink cans, glass bottles, and jars), cigarette butts and general litter. I was pleased to see that even cigarette butts could be properly disposed of by considerate pedestrians! We can find one of those bins in every corner and people seem to have adopted the bins quite well. At Pret a Manger, a restaurant chain in London committed to recycling, a different, more compact version of the three-in-one bins can be found in their store. I saw one in their London City Airport location.

Those were the main things -- besides the lovely historical sights -- that caught my attention in the short time we spent in London. I like the three-in-one bins a lot. Maybe we could use some of those in our neighborhood too, hum?

Recycle Brevard!

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