Travel

How to spend an eco-friendly weekend in Amsterdam

Tick off these mini-break must-dos while minimising your carbon footprint in the Dutch capital…

If you feel a minor victory every time you actually remember to bring your tote bag to the supermarket or your reusable coffee cup along for your pre-commute latte - you’re not the only one.

We’re all trying to do what we can to lead a life that’s kinder to the planet, and travelling is no different.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a straight up sustainable guide to leaving your inbox behind for a weekend in Amsterdam – one of our all-time favourite city getaway destinations.

Where to stay

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Step off the train into Amsterdam (you can get there in just over three and a half hours from London if you take the Eurostar) and you’ll already be right in the city centre.

If you do have to fly make sure you’re using Skyscanner’s greener choice label, which uses an algorithm to calculate the flight with lower than average CO₂ emissions for that route.

When it comes to checking in for a sustainable but wallet-friendly stay in Amsterdam, Ecomama, right in the heart of the city, should be top of everyone’s list.

Brought to life by entrepreneur Anika Jacobs, the idea behind this cool and beautiful boutique hostel – the number one stay in all of Amsterdam according to Hostelworld, no less – is simple: to marry the cosiness of community, the comfort of a hotel and the meaningfulness of a social business. 

Expect to find seven room types here for all budgets, from deluxe private rooms to ‘El Cheapo’ dorms, as well as mattresses made from sustainable materials, a check-in desk made from upcycled clothing and organic wash products in their bathrooms. 

Not only that, but Ecomama donates €1 to an NGO in Guatemala for every night a guest stays.

After something a little more high-end? New urban retreat QO Amsterdam in the upcoming Amstelkwartier district combines luxury and sustainability with a plethora of genius eco-friendly features.

The eco-hotel uses natural materials in its 288 rooms, has an innovative ‘living’ façade and a rooftop greenhouse that supplies its own restaurant.

All of this has earned it an LEED Platinum certificate - the most popular green building rating system in the world.

What to do

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Can you really call yourself a tourist if you’ve not chin-scratched your way around a local museum? 

With that in mind, you need Fashion For Good Experience on your mini-break itinerary. 

Dubbed ‘the world’s first interactive tech museum dedicated to sustainable fashion innovation’, the exhibition space right beside the Rokin tram stop showcases the game-changing innovations shaping the future of our wardrobes and will leave you with the knowledge you need to make a positive impact, commit to taking action and shop sustainable products. 

Oh, and as with every good museum, there’s a fantastic gift shop to check out too.

‘The Good Shop’ houses a specially curated selection of brands, all selected around a thought-provoking theme that changes every four months.

As with most places in the city you’re best off hopping on a bike. Stop by Bike City and rent some wheels to travel like a true native while lowering your CO₂ emissions count.  

Where to shop

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You’ve got approximately 100,000 spots to choose from for your essential Amsterdam fridge magnet and tiny wooden clog keyring, but if it’s more eco-friendly and sustainable souvenirs you’re seeking in this city, there are two places you need to hit. 

Run by the Bakker sisters, the uber-chic Geitenwollenwinkel – try saying that with a mouthful of stroopwafel – is the go-to for fair, ethical, honest and vegan clothing and lifestyle brands.

You’ll find this gorgeous hub for organic cotton, hemp and more at Utrechtsestraat 37, a stone’s-throw from the regal-looking Waldorf Astoria

If it’s new guilt-free additions to your bathroom line-up you need, a four-minute bike ride west will land you at Marie-Stella-Maris – the Dutch luxe care products brand with a social mission to move one step closer to everyone having the right to clean, safe and accessible drinking water. 

It’s why a donation for every sale of their unisex body washes, soaps, creams and lotions – all manufactured in the Netherlands with natural ingredients and a focus on sustainability – goes to water projects around the world. 

Since their launch in 2011, they’ve raised more than €1million and provided more than 30,000 people with access to drinking water. What’s not to love?

Where to drink

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Despite being more famous for an altogether different kind of intoxicating relaxant, Amsterdam has become a surprising hub for the eco vino, too. 

It’s an emerging reputation earned thanks to spots like Glou Glou, a stunning little neighbourhood gem that often spills out into its street in the De Pijp district, and which offers its laid-back revellers over 40 competitively priced natural, organic and sustainable wines to take away or to enjoy on site in its rustic and charming bar and shop. 

If you find yourself in the foodie destination of Amsterdam-Noord around 5pm, then it’s Chateau Amsterdam that you’ll want to find. 

These guys don’t just pour their top-notch plonks – they make them, too. With the help of their monolithic steel tanks and romantic French oak barrels, Holland’s first urban winery imports their organic and biodynamic grapes from Spain, Germany, France and more, to create and serve creative wines made on Amsterdam soil. 

That means lower emissions, less impact, and, if the rumours are to be believed, a smaller hangover the morning after, too. 

For more lower emissions travel inspiration, check out The Great Travel Hack and watch two teams battling it out to travel from London to Istanbul, stopping off at Amsterdam, with only one rule: lowest CO emissions wins.