Car Free Day

Cowcross Street, London

Type: Invited Competition (Winner)
Client: Islington Council
Contract Value: £1,000
Status: 8-hour installation, September 2006
Collaboration: Nonsense Design

1 Car free day + 1 Empty Parking Space + 552 plants = an offset of up to 552 kilos of carbon which is equivalent to 1650 miles of petrol fuel.

On September 22 2006, an ephemeral installation took place that offset up to 552 kilos of carbon emissions. In doing this, Small/ Nonsense was commemorating the carbon dioxide which would have been emitted by 16 cars parking in the single car-park space on Cowcross Street, or in other words, for a journey of 1650 miles using petrol fuel.

Islington Council sponsored the PARK(ING) DAY as part of a car-free day celebration and commissioned our installation. There were six teams, each was given one car-parking space and £1000 pounds, and Small/Nonsense was winner of the event.

So What Did We Do?

We filled the parking space with 552 Rosemary plants and gave them away throughout the day. Whoever chose to take a plant home became an explicit participant in the carbon-offsetting experiment and was asked to keep it alive for at least five years.

Rosemary had the advantage that it was small and could easily be taken to each individual’s home; it can be used for cooking; it can be kept indoors or outdoors; it is tough, durable and can withstand any weather. The public genuinely engaged with the concept and had many questions about offsetting carbon and how they could change their daily habits. Reaching a wide audience was our ultimate goal, and we were very happy with the result of such a small installation.