Go green and don’t look back
You’ve got your bag for life, your reusable coffee cup and your sustainable water bottle, so where do you go from here? Thankfully, in many aspects of everyday life, the sustainable option also happens to be the most fashionable one.
Fashion and interior design
When it comes to fashion and interiors, it’s goodbye to fast fashion and flat-pack furniture and hello to classy or quirky second-hand finds. Amsterdam is famous for its many great vintage shops, and for furniture and interior accessories – don’t miss Neef Louis, Van Dijk en Ko, Ari (Overtoom 532) and the legendary IJ-Hallen flea market. Also, remember the Dutch have great taste in interior design, so amazing finds are to be had virtually everywhere: in the small thrift shops called kringloopwinkel, at the flea market on King’s Day, and even on the street when everyone puts out their bulky waste on collection days. As for non-vintage fashion, there are plenty of exciting initiatives catering to the sartorially forward-looking Amsterdammer, for example ‘lease-a-jeans’ concept MUD Jeans, Gumshoe, who make trainers from recycled chewing gum (yes, really), and fashion library Lena.
There is a lot of food waste going on in many hotels, restaurants and cafés, but there are more and more venues trying to make a difference. They include De Ceuvel, Instock and Spirit. Taste before you Waste is an organisation trying to raise awareness of the issue with their ‘foodcycle markets’ and ‘Wasteless Wednesday’ dinners, while the Guerilla Kitchen Amsterdam hosts a weekly Food Waste Feast and food waste supermarket at Robin Food. Lastly, the QO hotel operates according to circular principles – and very chic it is, too – and Hotel Breeze is the Netherlands’ first (almost) zero-waste hotel.
When it comes to food shopping, a bit of planning goes a long way when trying to avoid packaging. Make a list of what you’ll need and take plenty of empty tupperware, jam jars, bottles and other containers. Farmer’s markets are the obvious choice when it comes to unpackaged fruit and veg; but Amsterdam also offers many options that take care of your other needs without using too much packaging.
Branches of the Ekoplaza supermarket have peanut butter, olive oil, rice and a selection of nuts for refilling, and it sells a growing selection of plastic-free products, too. Saber Nuts, Vomar, Lidl and Odin also do package-free nuts – the latter also offering cookies, legumes and seeds without packaging. Zero-waste shop Delicious Food in the Jordaan has all kinds of groceries, and Simon Lévelt is your go-to for coffee and tea. Olives and other deli staples are to be found at Olives & More in Oost as well as at the Saturday market on Noordermarkt. Bring your own clip-top bottle to the Saturday market on Nieuwmarkt for oil and vinegar and your fabric bread bag to bakeries such as Hartog in Oost and the Vlaamsch Broodhuys (branches all over town) – you may even get a discount for saying no to packaging. Lastly, the Little Plant Pantry is a plant-based zero-waste wholefoods store in West.
Beauty products have huge potential for reducing packaging, although it can feel overwhelming in the beginning as over-packaging is unfortunately still so common. Start with reusable options for wipes, pads and the like; continue with getting a bamboo toothbrush and unpackaged soap and shampoo bars from shops such as DIY Soap (in De Pijp) or Lush; and then go fully sustainable by joining the exciting world of DIY beauty. Before you know it, you’ll be whipping up your own face cream.
Having saved the best for last, we are happy to report that festival-going can be increasingly sustainable, too. De Zon Festival, Amsterdam Open Air, Make The World Great Again, Welcome To The Future, DGTL and Mysteryland are just some of the festivals that have environmentally friendly and anti-food waste policies in place, striving to make the world a better place.
Inspired to reduce your environmental footprint? See our guide to going plastic-free in Amsterdam.