London’s answer to plastic waste

There was a time when Londoners weren’t that fussed by water. Gin and beer were far more popular, and – dissipation and alcohol poisoning aside – safer to drink. It took the Victorian temperance movement coupled with terrible cholera epidemics for people to realise that free, potable water might be a good thing. So, in(…)

Crossrail: adventures in waste

There’s so much of wonder about Crossrail, the new railway under London that will link Reading and Heathrow with Shenfield and Abbey Wood when it opens in 2019. First off, there’s the staggeringly ambitious engineering work to construct 42km of tunnels through the centre of a city already riddled with holes from the tube network.The real joy for(…)

Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed

So wrote the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier in 1774, summing up his discovery that although matter can change its state in a chemical reaction, the total mass of matter remains the same.‘Everything is transformed’ could also serve as the motto for the Circular Economy: the idea that we can produce stuff without waste or pollution(…)

Castaway city

By the Thames at East Tilbury. Sixty years of London lies here, dumped since the 1930s and now buried beneath the marshes. Dislodged glass and china fragments collect on the beach while container ship pass silently by.

On the edge

North Greenwich Peninsular in the gloaming yesterday. There to research my next walk: a Rubbish Trip. It’s a soulful place. Derelict, still, away from things. Now on the verge on being redeveloped as a luxury cruise terminal, its transformation has been helped along by a recent spate of vandalism. Bored kids with sticks. An efficient(…)

Spirits in the rubble

This startling image is from the new documentary film Vision Quest: A Ritual for Elephant & Castle. It follows artist and shaman Marcus Coates on a search for animal spirits to help gain insights into a possible future for the area. It’s a provocative idea. Elephant & Castle – a giant roundabout, shopping centre and clutch(…)

London’s most voracious worms

I’m very excited about Crossrail. The tunnelling started last week. Over the next two years Phyllis & Ada (pictured), Victoria & Elizabeth, Sophia & Mary and an unnamed couple will bore 21km of twin tunnels through the centre of London. The 148m long machines will pass below Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Whitechapel(…)