Over the last 20 years, Brussels has been moving towards becoming a more eco-friendly city. With the establishment of Brussels Environment (the public service for the environment and energy), numerous peaceful climate marches and the success of its green party, Brussels is making eco-awareness a real priority.
Looking to be an eco-conscious visitor in Brussels? Here are Culture Trip’s tips and tricks on how to spend a sustainable weekend in the Belgian capital and discover some of the eco-gems the city has to offer.
The fastest way to get to know the city’s eco-friendly treasures is by joining an eco-tour through the hippest neighbourhoods. Mixua organises these tours to discover the newest zero-waste shops, bars and restaurants in Brussels. You can even meet the entrepreneurs behind the curtains of the visited venues. There are tours for businesses as well, to help inspire a more environmentally friendly workspace. Hiring a guide costs €30 (£25) including food and drink, a gift and a map of other eco-friendly spaces to visit during your stay in Brussels.
If you’re on a budget but still want to eat well, you need to know where to grab your environmentally conscious groceries. A great zero-waste supermarket in the centre is Färm. Here, you can buy your food in bulk and without non-biodegradable containers. The warehouse provides biodegradable bags, but you can also bring your own container. You can find the shop at four locations throughout the city: Saint-Cathérine, Ixelles, Schaerbeek and Uccle.
An interesting project to check out is the rooftop farm Ferme Abattoir in the Anderlecht district. Nicknamed ‘the belly of Brussels’, this huge rooftop farm has 4,000 square metres (43,055 square feet) of greenhouse, complete with a fish farm. BIGH (short for Building Integrated Greenhouses) started the project in 2018 and uses circular economy as their business model, making sure that waste is minimised and resources reused. The electricity is partially supplied through the farm’s solar panels, and relies on filtered rainwater rather than the mains supply for hydration.
Bio-markets are another great eco-friendly daytime activity and an alternative way to shop eco-consciously. There are a few artisanal markets in Brussels that are worth checking out and are not especially focussed on biological foods. One that does exclusively is the bio-market at the centre for sustainable economy, Be Here.
Fermenthings organise brunches on Sundays at Be Here, offering a completely organic brunch for €20 (£17). Make sure to book your space online in advance; the brunches are very popular and sell out quickly.
There are a few eco-friendly cafés around the city. A great zero-waste café is Boentje in Schaerbeek. They also organise workshops about living a more environmentally friendly life and arrange brunches.
Luckily, Brussels is a compact city, and most destinations in and around the centre are reachable on foot. If you want to go a little further afield, you can always take Villo bicycles. Villo is a rental-bike service offered by the city and costs around €5 (£4) per day, depending on how long you’re using the bike. Be careful on the streets of Brussels though, as the drivers tend to be a little more daredevil than in other Belgian cities.
You can also minimise your emissions by using alternative transport in the city, which is well served by a number of bus, train and tram routes.
Interested in nature-friendly and sustainable fashion, or just looking to buy cute clothes? Pass by Orybany in the centre to get clothes with a clean ethical background. You will find all types of clothes here, from a selection of ethically conscious clothing, jewellery and craft brands. On every second Sunday of the month you’ll find Tomorrow’s Market here, where you can buy other artisanal products by local craftspeople.
For a great cultural experience you can visit the BelExpo in Thurn en Taxis. Held at the BEL centre, the interactive exhibition The City of Tomorrow gives an idea of how to live in the city with the smallest ecological footprint possible, and aims to inspire families to make their home as sustainable as possible. It’s a great educational experience for the whole family.