For the Love edition of OX, we’ve paid special attention to perhaps the most important thing to love at the moment, our planet. To tie this into the more romantic concept of love month, I was tasked with trying to have the ultimate sustainable date without busting the budget. Here’s how I got on…
What to Wear?
The first step to a date – even before taking a sip of your ice-meltingly-strong gin and tonic to calm your nerves – is choosing an outfit. If, like me, you are trying to avoid contributing to fast fashion and have a limited budget, charity/vintage shops are the way to go. My personal favourite is the kilo sales regularly held at Oxford’s Town Hall. You pay a given amount (usually around £20) per kilo of clothes and, granted, you have to sift through a fair amount of sequins, old marathon tees, and pyjama tops masquerading as the Y2K aesthetic before you get to anything good, but when you find a gem there’s no feeling like it. My last visit was particularly successful and clothed me nearly head-to-toe for my date.
As well as helping me in preparation for my sustainable date, thrift shopping also served as an activity on the day itself – can you tell I’m a fan? Before grabbing a bite to eat, me and boyfriend, Miles stopped off at Reign Vintage on the Cowley Road. While Oxford is littered with great places to go, this is a favourite, providing a huge variety of styles with very reasonable price tags. We spent around £25 between us, so as well as feeling smugly environmentally friendly, vintage shopping comes with the added benefit of not bankrupting you before you go on for food.
Also recommended: Check out Gloucester Green’s Saturday market which hosts everything from preloved clothing, retro gems, and knick-knack stalls to a plethora of international street food vendors.
It’s no secret that to truly be as sustainable as possible, vegan food is the way forward, so we visited Oxford’s Happy Friday Kitchen (where ‘Friday is a state of mind’) to try out their California-inspired vegan comfort food. They definitely knew how to make a great undetectably vegan burger. We ‘paired’ this with a beer which prided itself in being craft-brewed by hand, not mass produced by a machine, thus reducing its air miles – we love to see it. Having both pushed ourselves safely (if not romantically) into ‘too full to move’ territory, we were in no mood to walk…
Also Recommended: The Punter, Oxford’s riverside vegetarian and vegan pub.
Getting around town in Oxford is usually easy enough, with buses whooshing past you every 30 seconds plus everywhere in this city relatively walkable anyway. We did, however, happen to choose a particularly drizzly day to spend more time outside than we needed to, and the local N1 bus doesn’t exactly scream ‘romance’, so instead of walking, we opted for the convenient and ever so slightly humiliating e-scooter ride. Not willing to go full cringe and share one scooter, we both got from Cowley Road to Jericho in just over ten minutes, for only about £3.50 each – admittedly cheaper if you share, but we are both law-abiding citizens and easily embarrassed (you do you, though).
Also recommended: Oxford is perhaps one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country and perhaps the only place where spotting a couple out on a tandem isn’t that unusual, (unless it’s me you’re spotting, in which case call the police, this is a hostage situation).
Once the rain had subsided a little, we walked through the streets of Jericho to admire the pretty houses we can’t afford, before reaching Port Meadow. Miles isn’t an Oxford local so occasionally I manage to take him to places he’s never been before, which is a good way to rediscover the area myself.
Also recommended: Oxford is home to some of the best, most famous and (more my taste) most obscure museums in the world. If the rain had proved prohibitive, a trip to see what they had on at the Ashmolean would have been a great wet-weather alternative.
We returned home as it started to get dark, feeling satisfied with our new purchases in hand, but also with a lack of dread to check the bank balance – a very unfamiliar but welcome conclusion to a date.
Total Spend: £70
What we realised when trying to have the most sustainable day out that we could, was that we didn’t actually need to try at all. In a city like Oxford, you walk past endless opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint every day, you just have to take them.
Valentine’s Day – why not spend yours like I did? Not with my boyfriend, but sustainably.