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Eco-Cities: Where in the UK Can Be Crowned the Most Eco-Friendly City?

family at allotment

As cities get bigger and the UK’s landscape becomes more and more urban, increasing numbers of people are being far more conscious of their impact on the environment and what they can do to lessen it.


Whether it’s recycling, shopping local, growing your own produce, or reducing the amount of meat in your diet, there are lots of ways to lower your footprint, but where in the UK is it easiest to go green?


We’ve ranked some of the country’s biggest towns and cities on a variety of green factors to determine which are the UK’s best Eco-Cities.


Brighton, Bristol and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the UK's most eco-friendly cities

1. Brighton & Hove


Taking the top spot for the country’s most eco-friendly city, with an overall score of 6.79 out of 10 was Brighton & Hove, on the South Coast.


Brighton was the top-ranking city for both vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants per person and also had the second-highest rate of people choosing to cycle at least once a month (22.5%).

2. Bristol


Another city with great green credentials is Bristol, which was actually named ‘European Green Capital’ back in 2015 and takes second place in our ranking, with a score of 6.54 out of 10. Bristol had the highest number of cyclists of all the cities that we looked at (26.2%) and is also home to 111 allotment sites across the city, which works out as 19.2 per 100,000 people!

3. Newcastle upon Tyne


The highest scoring Northern city on our list was Newcastle upon Tyne, with a score of 5.95 out of 10.


‘The Toon’ had the highest rate of allotments per person, with 23.1 for every 100,000 people, and scored highly across the board.


the uk's most eco-friendly cities

Number One for: Allotments – Newcastle upon Tyne


23.1 allotments per 100,000 people


Growing your own food is a great way to reduce your personal carbon footprint and it appears that Geordies must be a green-fingered bunch, with Newcastle boasting 66 allotments, which, per person, is more than any of the 30 towns and cities that we analysed.

Number One for: Charity Shops – Nottingham


50.7 charity shops per 100,000 people


More charity shops mean more opportunities for things to get reused and recycled, rather than just ending up in landfill somewhere. Out of our 30 cities, it was Nottingham, in the East Midlands, which had the most charity shops with 50.7 for every 100,000 people in the city.

Number One for: Vegan & Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants – Brighton & Hove


88 vegan & 145 vegetarian-friendly restaurants per 100,000 people


Brighton ranked in first place for not only the number of vegan-friendly restaurants, but vegetarian too, with a thriving plant-based community. Even if you’re not vegan or veggie yourself, cutting down on your meat intake can be a good way to reduce your own personal impact on the environment.

Number One for: Recycling – Cardiff


59.2% of waste recycled


Cardiff (and indeed Wales as a whole) has one of the highest rates of recycling in the UK, with 59.2% of all waste either being recycled, reused, or composted. In fact, it’s one of only two cities on our list which met the UK’s nationwide target of achieving a 50% recycling rate by 2020.

Number One for: Cycling – Bristol


26.2% of people who cycle once a month


Finally, the city which had the highest number of people who cycled at least once a month was Bristol. The city has a great cycling infrastructure, with cycle routes on almost all of its major roads, and was named the UK’s first ‘Cycling City’.


the most eco-friendly cities



We ranked the UK’s 30 most populated towns and cities on the following factors, giving each place a normalised score out of 10 for each factor, before taking an average score across all six factors.


Unfortunately, comparable cycling data was unavailable for Scotland, so for Scottish cities, an average was taken across the remaining five factors.




The number of council-owned allotments per 100,000 people according individual council website. Full sources can be viewed here.


Charity Shops


The number of charity shops according to Yell.


Vegan & Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants


The number of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants according to Tripadvisor.


People Who Cycle at Least Once a Month


The proportion of people who reported taking part in cycling of any type, at least once per week, according to:


England – The Department for Transport’s Active Lives Survey – Sport England.
Wales – Statistics for Wales’ Walking and cycling in Wales: Active travel statistical bulletin.
Northern Ireland – The Department for Infrastructure’s cycling in Northern Ireland data.


Recycling Rate


The percentage of household waste which is either recycled, reused, or composted according to:

England – The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ local authority collected waste statistics.
Scotland – Scotland’s Environment’s household waste discover data tool.
Wales – StatsWales’ annual recycling and composting rates by local authority.
Northern Ireland – The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ collected municipal waste management statistics.

Garden of Life

Garden of Life

Writer and expert