Bristol has always been a small city with a big heart, but because it’s not quite as big as some other major cities, it hasn’t quite gained the recognition it deserves – until now. This summer has seen tourists flock to the city in their masses, and seeing as the Lonely Planet describes Bristol as “a hub of culture and creativity”, it’s not surprising. It was also voted ‘Best Place to Live in Britain’ by The Sunday Times this year and people seem to be moving here quicker than you can say ‘summer is over’.
Painting a picture of this beautiful harbourside city; Bristol is home to the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge, the historic SS Great Britain ship, Aardman Animations and colourful hilltop houses in abundance. The people are friendly and warm, mostly because those who live in Bristol absolutely love their city and are proud to call it home.
The regeneration of the city has been ongoing for a number of years, yet it all really seemed to kick off when Bristol was awarded the European Green Capital title in 2015. More people than ever cycle around the city, despite its hilly nature, and a new Metro Bus link is currently being implemented to encourage more people to take public transport.
It’s also the only city in the UK to have its own energy company; Bristol Energy, which was set up in 2016 and offers 100% green energy sources, whilst using its profits to invest back into local communities.
More noticeable and experienced by people on a day-to-day basis, is the rise in independent retailers. It feels not that long ago that small businesses were struggling to get by, yet people’s passion for supporting local seems to have been reignited, which is wonderful news. While chains are closing down (including some big-name coffee shops) at record speed, independent businesses are taking over and helping the city’s sustainable efforts.
Food is a big talking point in Bristol, and that’s because there are excellent options for all tastes, but especially for those who are interested in eating ethically, organically and locally. Bordeaux Quay was the UK’s first eco restaurant to be awarded a gold rating from the Soil Association’s sustainable catering scheme, while art venue Watershed has a history of working with local suppliers to offer high-quality, seasonable produce.
There are lots of plans in place with collaborative resources; Food Connections and Eat Drink Bristol Fashion, to turn Bristol into a sustainable food city via pop ups, restaurants and events. Local coffee shops are the people’s favourite though it seems, and the likes of Spicer + Cole, Tradewind Espresso, Pinkmans Bakery and Bakesmiths have brought a whole new standard of the café experience, by serving locally roasted coffee and ethically sourced food (including mind-blowing cakes) – in gorgeous, stylish settings.
While the smaller, independent businesses are going strong, Bristol is also home to some big ethical and environmental names that have been established in the city for a long time. Soil Association, Pukka Herbs, Sustrans and Tridos Bank all originate in the city and have helped put Bristol on the map when it comes to sustainability.
Outdoor space is not hard to come by either, as Bristol boasts more parks and green spaces than any other UK city, including the picturesque University of Bristol Botanical Gardens. Not only can you always find somewhere to escape and enjoy nature when life in the city gets a bit chaotic, but the beautiful countryside of the Mendips and Cotswolds are just a short drive away and the picturesque South West coast, not much further.
It’s amazing to see how far everything has come on and how much effort is being put in to create an even more sustainable, creative hub. There doesn’t seem to be much that Bristol can’t offer, but it’ll be exciting to see how much more it can progress in the years to come.