An Eco-Friendly Traveller's Guide to Amsterdam

People fishing for plastic during a boat tour with Plastic Whale
People fishing for plastic during a boat tour with Plastic Whale | © Plastic Whale
Tom Coggins

Finding places that value eco-conscious thinking and maintain environmentally friendly practices isn’t always easy when travelling abroad. Thankfully though, there are many organisations, hotels and stores based in Amsterdam that adhere to ecologically responsible business models and cater for travellers who are eager to reduce their carbon footprints.
Aside from obvious activities like riding a bike rather than driving, or recycling plastic at designated disposable points around the city, travellers in Amsterdam can actively contribute towards local and international projects related to the environment by patronising the following eco-hotspots.

Eco-conscious tours and activities in Amsterdam

1. Join a plastic fishing tour with Plastic Whale

Natural Feature

Plastic fishers cleaning up Amsterdams canals
© Plastic Whale

During boat tours with Plastic Whale, passengers are guided through Amsterdam’s canals and encouraged to fish for plastic floating in the city’s waterways. As the tour trails through Amsterdam’s oldest neighbourhoods, it allows travellers to experience many important, local landmarks while actively reducing the amount of ecologically harmful litter flowing through the canals. After passengers have collected their hauls, Plastic Whale takes these discarded items and recycles them into new useful products, such as office furniture and additional tour boats that are then added to the company’s fleet. Anglers of all ages are welcome onboard Plastic Whale’s boats and the tours are available in Dutch or English.

2. Attend a workshop at Mediamatic

Art Gallery

2. Attend a workshop at Mediamatic
© Anisa Xhomaqi / Mediamatic
Mediamatic hosts ongoing workshops throughout the week that explore ecologically conscious agriculture, food production and art. The foundation’s headquarters on Dijksgraht essentially serve as an incubator for the aforementioned disciplines and features state-of-the-art facilities. For instance, visitors can join workshops in Mediamatic’s aquaponics greenhouse and learn more about this ecologically friendly form of farming or attend classes that delve into mushroom cultivation, which are held inside the organisation’s laboratory. Mediamatic’s monthly calendar includes many other fascinating workshops, ranging from kimchi cooking classes to perfume-blending sessions.

3. Get a vegan tattoo at Sea Shepherd Amsterdam

Store

sea-shephard-1024x683
© Sea Shepherd

Since early 2018, Sea Shepherd Amsterdam has organised tattoo sessions inside its store on Alexander Boersstraat that raise money for the charity’s ongoing marine conservations efforts around the world. The parlour in question only uses plant-based products and donates every penny it earns from tattooing to Sea Shepherd. Although the parlour doesn’t offer walk-ins, potential clients can stop by to discuss prospective tattoos or arrange sessions by phone or email.

4. Rummage for vintage treasures at IJ-Hallen

Market

People shop at the indoor secondhand and vintage flea market in the IJ Hallen, Amsterdam
© ingehogenbijl / Shutterstock

IJ-Hallen embodies the spirit of recycling and its vendors collectively move countless secondhand items that would have otherwise ended up in the trash, during the market’s opening hours. The market takes place over one weekend every month inside two gigantic shipping containers in Amsterdam-Noord. While many professional merchants rent space at the market every month, other people have stalls in order to downsize their wardrobes or declutter their apartments. You’ll find heaps of preloved items, including clothes, furniture and vinyl records.

Eco-Hotels in Amsterdam

5. Ecomama

Hotel, Boutique Hotel, Hostel

Thanks to the hotel’s commitment to environmentally responsible hospitality, guests at Ecomama can rest, relax and socialise in spaces that are designed to accomodate green, eco-conscious living. The hotel uses natural stone heating and has an environmentally friendly water system that actively reduces waste. It also takes €1 from guests’ bills every night and donates this sum to charities related to animal welfare and education. Ecomama’s rooms range from deluxe, private lodgings with ensuite bathrooms to ‘El Cheapo’ 12-bed dormitories that are perfect for experienced travellers on shoestring budgets. Aside from the basics, Ecomama features additional social spaces, including an indoor teepee where movies are screened throughout the week, and a cosy, onsite café called The Fix with spots for remote working.

6. Conscious Hotel Westerpark

Boutique Hotel

Conscious Hotel Westerpark. Picture of the moon above a white bed in a small hotel room opposite a yellow railing.
Courtesy of Conscious Hotel Westerpark / Expedia

As Conscious Hotel Westerpark exclusively uses electricity generated by wind turbines, every socket, lightbulb and refrigerator inside its rooms is powered by renewable energy. It was the first (and so far only) hotel in the Netherlands to switch to wind energy and opened its doors to eco-conscious travellers in May 2018. There are 89 modern rooms available at Conscious Hotel that are housed inside a monumental building located in Westerpark. Due to its location, Conscious Hotel Westerpark lies close to many popular local hangouts, including the cultural and culinary hotspots in Westergasfabriek. While there’s plenty to see nearby, guests can also enjoy downtime in the hotel’s lively brasserie, Bar Kantoor, or its down-to-earth, organic coffee bar Conscious Café.

Environmentally aware places to eat in Amsterdam

7. The Dutch Weed Burger Joint

Restaurant, Fast Food, European, North American, Vegetarian, Vegan

dutchweedburger
© The Dutch Weed Burger Joint

Though its tongue-in-cheek name may suggest otherwise, The Dutch Weed Burger Joint serves vegan, fast-food style dishes that are made from protein-rich seaweed. The minds behind the restaurant believe that seaweed can solve many problems associated with modern agriculture and buy their stock from sustainable farms based in the Netherlands. There are many tasty, vegan meals available inside the restaurant, including its eponymous Dutch Weed burger and other take-out classics such as shawarma and hotdogs.

8. Restaurant de Kas

Restaurant, European, Mediterranean, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan

The converted greenhouse dining room of Restaurant de Kas in Amsterdam
© Ronald Hoeben / Restaurant de Kas

Restaurant de Kas grows herbs and vegetables inside an onsite greenhouse and uses these ingredients to create elegant, healthy meals inspired by Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant also owns a farm outside Amsterdam, where it cultivates other, larger crops that appear on its menu. Every meal served inside Restaurant de Kas is tailored around its current harvest and contains fresh, seasonal ingredients that are grown in or near Amsterdam. Though de Kas exclusively offers a fixed, daily menu that often centres around fish or meat, it will alter its selection to meet vegetarian or vegan requirements on request. There are 150 seats in total, including some inside the stunning, conservatory-like dining room and even more outside on its sunny terrace.

Ecologically minded stores in Amsterdam

9. Ekoplaza

Store

Plastic Free Aisle Ekoplaza 4
© Ewout Huibers / A Plastic Planet

While every Ekoplaza in Amsterdam stocks organic products ranging from vegan sausages to local beer, the chain’s location on Jan Pieter Heijestraat was the first supermarket in the Netherlands to launch a plastic-free aisle, where shoppers can purchase goods that are exclusively packaged in biodegradable material. This innovative project was created to reduce the amount of unnecessary plastic waste circulating through Amsterdam and demonstrate that it is possible to live without this form of packaging.

10. Geitenwollenwinkel

Store

This boutique clothing store stocks simple, stylish womenswear, shoes and accessories that are made from sustainable vegan materials. Its rather tongue-twisting title translates into English as ‘the Goat Wool Shop’ and refers to a common stereotype in the Netherlands, that paints eco-conscious individuals as people who wear thick, woollen stock. Rather than distance themselves form this image, the store’s owners fully embrace environmentally friendly, vegan lifestyles and have created somewhere that caters to like-minded, fashion-conscious shoppers.

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