I’m all for being a tourist in your own town and when I met Claudi, the founder of GreenMe Melbourne, at a Travel Massive event I told her to put me down for her next tour straightaway.
Claudi is an inspirational but non-preachy champion of sustainability. She runs Berlin’s no. 1 eco lifestyle guide GreenMe Berlin and when she came to Melbourne this summer decided to see what green initiatives she could uncover and consequently share over here. Her contacts led her to Brunswick East and together she and the local business owners pieced together the GreenMe Brunswick tour, which dives into the diverse & ever-growing urban eco scene.
I joined Claudi for a tour last week to learn more about my home suburb from a unique perspective and it was genuinely one of the best tours I’ve done in Melbourne – and not just because it includes melt-in-your-mouth brownies.
I am reluctant, though, (for once in my life!) to share too much about this tour, the reason being half the fun of this experience is the discovery.
Claudi guides you into unassuming shops and dilapidated-looking warehouses and what’s inside each of the 6 stops on the walking tour is a delightful surprise and impressive sustainability story.
Aside from the minimum impact each of these Brunswick businesses aims to have on the environment, it’s the characters who run them that really make this tour memorable. From Robert the bee/shopkeeper at Bee Sustainable to Nick the alley gardener at East Elevation, part of the reason I want to support these green-thinking businesses is the people behind them.
There’s a real sense of community in Brunswick and that’s evident on the GreenMe tour too. You’ll notice a thread between the places you visit; an overlap of the people.
Our first stop was to local coffee roasters Padre, whose baristas are as passionate about minimising waste as the flat whites they’ve perfected. It was one of Padre’s former baristas, we learn on the tour, who started Reground to recycle used coffee grounds from Melbourne cafes.
Reground collect the used grounds from various cafes across the city and distribute them to community gardens for fertiliser, saving 143 tonnes of ground coffee from landfill to date. This same former barista, Ninna Larsen, is a friend of Robert the beekeeper – she hosts Danish bread-making workshops at Bee Sustainable.
Entrepreneurship crops up as much as community spirit on the GreenMe experience. Again, I’m reluctant to give away what you’ll discover, but a people-powered winery (yes really!) and upcycled bicycles are on the itinerary.
As a Brunswick local I’m excited to have found places I want to return to that are good for the environment and my stomach! How I hadn’t already been to chocolate factory and green café East Elevation is beyond me. Their bean to bar chocolate and freshly baked brownies are to die for and with an alley garden not far from the kitchen the menu is pretty much as locally grown as you can get in Brunswick.
There was another important takeaway from this tour for me though, and it’s that being green doesn’t have to be geeky. There’s nothing about this tour that feels like a lecture, in fact it’s possibly the coolest way you can learn about sustainability.
So bring your kids, grab your gran, come down to Brunswick to support the local community and respect the environment while stuffing your face with wine and brownies. It’s a no-brainer isn’t it!?
GreenMe Melbourne offers walking tours in Brunswick East and Fitzroy, Melbourne. They operate public and custom private tours from $60 AUD per person. Visit the GreenMe Melbourne website for tour dates and bookings.