Eco-Warrior: The Ultimate Guide to Green Living in Shanghai

Eco-Warrior: The Ultimate Guide to Green Living in Shanghai

Eco-Warrior: The Ultimate Guide to Green Living in Shanghai
Photo: apartmenttherapy.com

For those who seek it out, Shanghai has a growing scene of restaurants, organisations, shops and recreational clubs that are dedicated to providing environmentally-responsible options for consumers. If you are an eco-conscious person who carries a personal water bottle and tote bag, prefers walking or biking to cabbing and seeks out yoga studio deals instead of happy hour deals, or if you are simply looking for a fun activity bereaved of bass or a shopping experience that won't make you imagine the backdoor sweatshop your new find was produced in, Shanghai has a range of environmental and health-conscious venues to offer.

1) Guilt-free clothing
The environmental and social crimes of the garment industry have been widely documented. From polluted waterways, excessive pesticide use and workers falling sick from exposure to chemical dyes, it is difficult to purchase a guilt-free garment. Shoppers who want to avoid these effects of clothing production can turn to companies that utilise organic or recycled fabrics, endorse fair trade principles and manufacture their products locally.

For the eco-chic Shanghai shopper, check out youthful women's brand Snoozer Loser which combines hip vintage fabrics and eco-fabrics; flowing women's wear at NouMi, a brand known for its use of bamboo and Finch, a brand designing staple pieces using locally-sourced, organic materials and non-toxic dyes. This year Finch launched a line of brightly patterned bike ponchos to keep the sophisticated cyclist dry. Nest Shanghai is another store that sells a variety of green goods from clothing to kitchenware and gift paper. Other alternatives are vintage shopping; check out Lolo Loves Vintage's moving sale where you can find retro shades, funky bathing suits, printed maxi-dresses and sheer blouses, all hand-picked from Europe.

2) Cosmetics and home products
In terms of cosmetics and home products, chemical- and animal testing-free brands are also available in the Shanghai marketplace. Eco & More is a versatile brand offering personal, skincare and cleaning products that are 100% plant-based, while home furnishing store Eco-home sells linens and home decor with an eco-twist. If you are craving a little organic pampering or looking for the perfect gift for that nature-loving girl in your life, Delicious! provides 100% organic hand-blended oils and face balms with up to 25 natural ingredients per mixture, as well educational workshops and at-home skin treatments delicious enough to eat (and fresh enough to refrigerate!).

3) Outdoor excursions
For a green day out, there is no better way to enjoy the outdoors in a stifling concrete city than from sprawling Zhongshan Park, home to an array of trees and flowers, a beautiful rose garden, and even carnival rides and electric touring boats for the more adventurous sun-soakers. If you are keen on a day excursion that involves traipsing through strawberry patches and eating freshly harvested organic veggies, Shanghai has a handful of legitimate organic farms that offer tours and workshops on a regular basis including Biofarm, Tony's Farm and Shanghai Organics. Biofarm offers eco-education programmes, farm tours, and seasonal chemical- and fertiliser-free crops delivered straight to your door. Fields China and the World Health Store are other great options for a selection of healthy and organic foodstuffs.

Just an hour ride away from Shanghai lies China's third largest island, Chongming Island. Check out the island's man-made forest, Dongping National Forest Park, a 350-hectare park with large ponds and recreational activities, and Dongtan Wetland Park which offers boat rides through the wetlands, bird-watching, and bikes and BBQ's. Don't miss Chongming's Mahota Farm, a bio-dynamic farm that emphasises bio-diversity, cosmic-rhythms and other traditional knowledge in it's planting and harvesting techniques. At Mahota you can visit free range animals, go river fishing and even roast your own organic vegetables.

4) Environmentally-friendly dining
For the environmentally-centered eater, Shanghai has a plethora of Western and Eastern vegetarian and organic restaurants including Kush, Origin, Pure Pavilion Vegetarian Restaurant, Vegetarian Lifestyle (also known as Jujube Tree), and an all-you-can-eat buffet at an ornate restaurant next to Longhua Temple. For no-fuss vegetarian food, newly opened Veg Inn prepares Shanghainese and Sichuanese dishes at affordable prices. They are currently working on a photographic menu for foreigners, but non-Chinese speakers are not to fret – the friendly owner of the restaurant and wholehearted Buddhist Mr. Hu will be more than happy to recommend dishes to you based on your requirements.

5) Environmental clubs & events
There are also regular environmental clubs and events that are useful to have on hand such as the Shanghai Veggie Club, which organises vegetarian meals at different restaurants each month, and Green Drinks, which hosts free evening talks by green-industry experts along with drinks, munchies and an opportunity to meet other eco-conscious city-dwellers. Start-up organisation The Wellness Works is making waves with its organic farm tours, health- and environment-oriented film screenings, and DIY workshops (raw chocolate making, to name one!). For bike fanatics, online urban cycling community People's Bike organise weekly night rides (with pit stops for convenience store beers), and other cycling events around the city. People's Bike are also the crew behind Factory Five, a workshop where you can custom order peak condition fixed-gear bikes made from original 1980s Chinese bicycle frames.

Larger organisations include Shanghai Roots & Shoots, an ever-growing non-profit organisation that works with companies from start-ups to multi-million-dollar international corporations, local and international schools and individuals towards creating an environmentally sustainable future through education and action. Roots & Shoots is best known for its reforestation project, The Million Tree Project, which plants trees in the encroaching Keerqin desert in Inner Mongolia. For a more business-oriented approach, environmental-consulting firm Greennovate offers employee engagement programmes, capacity building, supplier advancement, as well as green product development.

For an list of all things green in Shanghai, check out the EcoDesignFair Directory: http://www.ecodesignfair.cn/directory/

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Keywords: Guide to Green living shanghai environmentally friendly Shanghai eco clothing Shanghai

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