London’s Red Phone Boxes Go Green

The famous red phone boxes of London are getting a renewable makeover! Announced last week, many of the now unused phone boxes (or what we call here in the colonies, phone booths) will be converted into solar-powered charging stations.

Image courtesy of The Independent

Image courtesy of The Independent

The project started when two geography students at the London School of Economics (LSE) became interested in renovating public spaces. One of the students, Harold Cranston, told BBC News, “I lived next to a phone box in my second year at uni and walked past it every day. I thought, ‘There are 8,000 of these lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them.’” So he and his co-creator, Kirsty Kenny, got to work to bring new life to abandoned red compartments.

Now, six newly converted green boxes have made their debut on Tottenham Court Road. They have a roof-mounted 86 cm solar panel with mini/micro-USB and iPhone chargers inside. The chargers can boost battery life by 20 percent in 10 minutes, and the boxes can handle about 100 charges per day. So far, there have been about 85 customers a day, gleefully charging their phones for free.

They can charge phones without any cost to the consumers by incorporating screens for advertisements that run while the phones are plugged in. Tinder and Uber are just two of the businesses that participate in this advertising method. The boxes will be open from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. every day of the year, and will be locked overnight. Given that they’re solar-powered, they wouldn’t work in the dark anyway!

Since the release, about six people per hour use each booth, proving the success of the makeover. Cranston and Kenny have also gained some distinction, placing second in the Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and first for the LSE’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award.  Five more green boxes will be completed by April 2015. And don’t worry tourists; there will still be plenty of red, traditional boxes to take quintessential “I went to London” pictures!



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