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From places to eat to sustainable fashion: my top 10 eco-friendly spots in Edinburgh

Did you know that this year, according to a study carried out by, Edinburgh was ranked THE top destination for sustainability across a range of criteria? Conscious consumers now have an increasing range of shops, restaurants and other businesses offering more circular economy, eco-friendly and sustainable options to choose from.

If, like me, you're keen to reduce your carbon footprint through smarter buying choices, here are my top 10 spots in Edinburgh to do just that.

If you think soup is boring, or just for winter, think again! Vegan cafe Curran Geal (Scots Gaelic for White Carrot) is a little gem of a discovery for my fellow soup-o-philes. With a menu that changes daily and a minimum of 3 or 4 soup choices as standard - each of them as delicious-sounding as the next - you'll be hard-pushed to choose! You will be faced with dilemmas such as ‘do I go for the Creole spiced red lentil, tomato and vegetable today, or wild mushroom, spinach and kale?’. See what I mean? Plus, just to make your dining decisions even more difficult, they offer a cracking sandwich menu too, so fill yer boots!

Owned by the notable Edinburgh Italian-Scots Contini family, the Scottish Cafe and Restaurant is perfectly situated for visitors and Edinburgh residents alike at the Scottish National Gallery, beside Princes Street Gardens, just below the watchful eye of Edinburgh Castle. Their delicious, locally-sourced and sustainably-produced menu showcases the best artisan produce from around Scotland and plays host to a series of events throughout the year. They even won the Green Tourism Award in 2024 highlighting their dedication to sustainable tourism. And - if you love design as much as I do, then you will also have an appreciation for the interiors including Mairi Helena wallpaper and Timorous Beasties fabrics and furnishings.

Hit Hula and your taste buds and immune system are in for a treat! Hula was Edinburgh's very first juice bar back in 2007 (how did we manage in the wilderness years?). Their bright and bold decor fits well in the colourful surroundings of their Victoria Street branch and instantly transports you to more tropical climes. They've also now extended their menu to offer locally sourced food too, with their coffee being roasted right here in Edinburgh! Personally though, I can't see past the juice, my favourite being the super tasty superfood 'Popeye' juice with spinach, apple, lemon and nutmeg! Yum!

I first discovered TORN in one of their pop-up shops, however their main shop is in Edinburgh's infamous Grassmarket. TORN sell beautiful, one-of-a-kind genuine vintage clothing, with a distinctly feminine vibe. You can shop in store or online, with central Edinburgh orders being delivered using zero emission cargo bike delivery service FARR OUT. As a graphic designer, I love the brand the owner and founder Vassia has created, so if you do have the time, I would highly recommend a visit to the shop for the full TORN brand experience! And if you’re a magnet for preloved and retro fashion, you have other charity and vintage shops in this area too.

Okay so this one is not a physical store (although they do occasionally host pop-up shops across various locations). However, they are based in Edinburgh and there is a very good reason why they don't have a bricks and mortar shop with rails and rails of stock. Did you know that 30% of new clothes made this year will never be sold, adding substantial amounts to global emissions? Unfolded aims to correct that worrying statistic by making beautiful quality clothing to order meaning vastly reduced wastage in the production and selling process. Even better, the savings they make from only producing what is needed go towards funding children in India to read and write and pay garment workers higher wages. What about returns I hear you ask? You can still return your items to Unfolded, but in order to reduce wastage further, they provide a swap service for customers. Clever, eh? 

Do you tend to save your jewellery for special occasions? I did, but after being given a Rosie Brown ring from my two daughters as a birthday gift, I decided to change that! All their jewellery is handmade in the shop and stamped to Assay Office (hallmark) standards. The designs are made one-of-a-kind through techniques like hammering and hand shaping the silver and gold to produce subtle textures and organic shapes. I love my Rosie Brown ring and according to my daughters, their customer service was 5 star too!

The Leith Collective is dedicated to showcasing a magnificently eclectic selection of homewares and gifts from 300+ local sustainably-minded makers, who recycle or upcycle everyday objects and turn them into something new and exciting. The original store was at Ocean Terminal in Leith, but they now have branches in Fort Kinnaird, Edinburgh, as well as Glasgow and Dundee. Their awe-inspiring expansion has also resulted in a new online marketplace We Relove where you will find the same dedication to trailblazing the sustainability message.

The Old Barn may be a little further out of the city, but the trip is definitely worth it. Offering a more calm shopping experience than your typical antique shop, The Old Barn sells antiques and reclaimed furniture that wouldn't look out of place in a French countryside manor or equally (as is the case for me), adding a touch of class to a contemporary Scottish home. The space behind the shop also holds a regular calendar of workshops, from dried flower wreath making to crochet for beginners and more!

How amazing to be able to say you were Edinburgh's very first plastic free greengrocers?! You're more than likely very familiar with the concept - refilling a range of household goods to eliminate the additional packaging (usually plastic) that comes with our regular purchases. The Refillery stocks a range of dried foods, cleaning and personal care products - basically anything that can be easily refilled. In the shop you’ll also find a wide range of fresh produce and other organic or sustainably made goods, guaranteed to be ethically produced too. Living in Midlothian, I am lucky to have a similar refills shop nearby -  The Storehouse in Penicuik - but if you are based in Edinburgh city, I guarantee that heading to somewhere like The Refillery will reduce your plastic waste substantially (ps - more tips for reducing your plastic waste can be found in my previous blog).

Edinburgh Remakery is a social enterprise that is fast becoming an Edinburgh and national institution. I had the pleasure of hearing their CEO Elaine Brown speak at an Edinburgh networking event (Love Your Business) and I was blown away by the landmark work they are doing. They don’t just embrace the concept of the circular economy, they live and breathe it. The principles of the circular economy are that our priority should always be reducing our overall consumption levels; then when our possessions show signs of wear and tear, we repair and reuse, giving them an extended life. Only when this is no longer possible should we look to recycle those items, and avoid completely disposing of them. Take the example of technology - e-waste is the fastest growing waste problem globally in terms of amount disposed of and the dangerous chemicals that are released into the atmosphere when they are disposed of irresponsibly. Remakery will repair and recondition our ‘old’ tech for reuse and recycle the parts, including the precious gold and silver! They also run education programmes and repair workshops to help us rediscover the joy of clothing repair. I believe Edinburgh is very fortunate to have this innovative enterprise leading the way in the circular economy revolution!

I hope you're feeling suitably inspired by these sustainable Edinburgh finds! If you're also a conscious consumer and business owner, I'd love to connect on Instagram and LinkedIn where you can follow me for more tips and news. And, if you are looking to level up your branding with a designer who aligns with your sustainable values, get in touch for a free discovery call to chat through your needs :)

Karen x

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