Formula E star Alexander Sims is so green-fingered that he is building himself his own eco-house.
An invitation to join the all-electric series was a match made in heaven for London-born Sims, who has been adapting his life to become more environmentally friendly for over a decade.
This weekend he races in his first-ever home E-Prix at London’s ExCel Centre – a venue he has only ever attended before to watch Grand Designs Live.
And that perhaps helped with the inspiration behind his biggest project away from motorsport, as he looks to turn his converted barn in Warwickshire into a home he can be proud of.
“It doesn’t need much modernising, it is a converted barn and most of the house is pretty good,” Sims said.
“But it has LPG boilers and I don’t want those. We have just installed a decent array of solar panels in the field.
“We also have planning permission to install air source seat pumps to replace the LPG boilers.
“I am going through the process of modernising it and improving it from a sustainability standpoint.”
Unlike most who get involved in Formula E, Sims was already an advocate for an eco-friendly lifestyle long before joining the series and learning the climate change message that is associated with the racing.
Sims, as a result, looks like the polar opposite of most top-level sportspeople. His quiet, calm and homely approach to life is in stark comparison to other motorsport rivals.
He has changed a host of things in his life that he describes as ‘trivial’ in isolation, but when you put them together, makes for a significant change.
On top of becoming vegetarian (medical reasons prevented him from becoming fully vegan), Sims does not buy plastic toothbrushes or kitchen utensils, he only buys bamboo or wooden products. He uses soap instead of plastic-bottled shower products. He has his glasses supplied by Coral Eyewear, which are made from recycled plastic.
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He is also aware of the carbon-offensive lifestyle that a racing driver leads, jetting all over the world, so he has offset his carbon emissions to his local charity, the Heart of England Forest.
And both he and his wife drive electric vehicles.
“It is something that I am conscious of,” Sims said. “What you buy is quite powerful with the brands you choose. You can either go for bog-standard things that are covered in plastic or you can opt for the slightly nicer packaged things.
“I still live a normal life. I do travel around, I do things that any normal family man would do, but I try to take it with a pinch of responsibility to do my little bit for the environment.”
Despite the inevitable focus on an eco-lifestyle, Sims believes Formula E needs to continue to put sporting entertainment first.
He said: “I’ve always felt that it’s place on TV is not really there to be a David Attenborough, Blue Planet-type programme in terms of pitching the environmental idea. It is a sport and it should be a secondary factor that it opens people’s eyes to electric vehicles.
“I think it does a good job in keeping the message a fairly simple one in that it is an exciting sport, people watch it and by watching it, they are opened up to the fact that electric cars can be cool, sexy and fun.”
Sims races in London this weekend in what will be his first home race as a Formula E driver.
He said: “It is very exciting to be racing in London. It is not somewhere I had ever anticipated I would race before joining Formula E.
“With racing in Formula E, you are exposed to racing in city centres around the world that you wouldn’t expect, so now to get the chance to race in London is pretty cool.
“I’ve been to the ExCel a few times before for trade shows and things, Grand Designs Live, and know how large the hall is, but to actually be racing through there with the pretty unique track being half indoor and half outdoor, it is going to be something really quite interesting.”