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Travel with heart: 10 sustainable ways to visit the West Midlands

We all know we have to look after our heart, and that goes for the beating pulse of the UK. There are many ways to explore the West Midlands sustainably and bring back some eco-friendly ideas as souvenirs.

All eyes will be on Birmingham and surrounds this British summertime, as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games leads the world as the most sustainable Games ever, pledging winning initiatives which include being zero-waste, leaving a carbon-neutral legacy, clearing canals, planting 2,022 acres of forests and creating 72 urban forests.

So, whether your team tops the medal tally or not, here are 10 ways to make a trip to the wonderful West Midlands gold-medal standard…

1. Go carbon neutral at the Commonwealth Games

As well as reducing its carbon footprint during the Games in July and August, Birmingham 2022 is pledging to offset its entire carbon footprint for the first time, through initiatives such as planting forests. When flying long-haul to the UK, you can reduce your footprint by choosing direct flights and taking a train instead of a plane within the nation. Economy class uses the least emissions and look out for booking sites which list the greenest routes and let you offset your carbon.

2. Don’t go off the rails

Travelling by train is one of the greenest and scenic ways of getting around. Birmingham is easily accessible from major cities, with journeys taking around 1.5 hours from London. Once there, short train trips will take you around the region to cities like Royal Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon. West Midlands Railway also offers 2FOR1 discounts on attractions in the area, including Warwick Castle, The Bear Grylls Adventure and Winterbourne House and Garden.

3. Get on your bike

The Birmingham Cycle Revolution has seen extensive cycle routes open all over the city and you can also pedal the paths along the canal network. The new West Midlands Cycle Hire costs just £1 to unlock a bike, then 5p per minute after that. Look out for docking stations around the region.

4. Or scoot about town

Alternatively, you can rent a Voi e-scooter, found in docking stations in central Birmingham, Coventry and West Bromwich, for a similar cost to cycles.

5. Take a walking tour

Seeing a city on foot is good for the planet and your health and Positively Birmingham has lots of walking tours, on topics from history to canals and, of course, Peaky Blinders, or you can go solo with the Walk Run Cycle Birmingham app. If you want to pick up the pace, try Run of a Kind running tours of Birmingham.

6. Pick up a paddle

Birmingham famously has more kilometres of canals than Venice and one of the most sustainable ways of enjoying them is by kayak. New visitor hub Roundhouse offers kayak tours of the canals for some water-wellness.

7. Waste not, want not

Enjoy guilt-free eating at a sustainable restaurant such as Michelin-starred Carters of Moseley, Chapter in Edgbaston, or The Hive Café and Bakery in the Jewellery Quarter. And stock up in the UK’s largest zero-waste supermarket, The Clean Kilo, in Moseley and Bournville.

8. Enjoy some vintage shopping

They say everything old is new again, so hunt out some unique pieces in vintage fashion shops like Urban Village Vintage in Henley-in-Arden, or antique treasure troves like Moseley Vintage Hub. Even iconic Birmingham department store Selfridge’s has vintage designer items.

9. Go green

A couple, man and woman, standing at the edge of a cliff looking at a map at Stanage Edge in the Peak District National Park. Rolling landscape and hills in view.

The West Midlands is home to stunning countryside. Birmingham’s 2,400-acre Sutton Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe and the Peak District National Park, Sherwood Forest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty including Cannock Chase, the Cotswolds, Shropshire Hills and Malvern Hills are all nearby.

10. Stay sustainably

There are many eco-friendly accommodation options in the region, including Staying Cool’s Rotunda serviced apartments in Birmingham and the city’s Clayton Hotel.

28 Jul 2022(last updated)

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