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Red Light, Green Light … Amsterdam is Going Green

“Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0”

Amsterdam has long been known as a pioneering city, now Amsterdam is going green. Four hundred years ago, it was a leader in religious tolerance and global commerce and now it’s the front runner in the world’s next challenge “Climate Change”. Among Amsterdam’s 17th century town houses and winding canals, green changes are popping up all over the city. On major shopping avenues in the center of the Dutch capital, street trash is collected by nonpolluting electric trucks, while the electronic displays in local bus stops are powered by small solar panels.  Electricity used to power trams and light buildings comes from burning municipal waste. In Amsterdam, people take more trips by bike, than by car. These steps among many, represent Amsterdam’s initial steps toward making its infrastructure more eco-friendly. Since Amsterdam is the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe, making tourism as eco friendly as possible is one of the first priorities on the green agenda.

Upon arrival in the Dutch Capital, we started our green adventure with the train from the airport to the city center. The city’s GVB Tram System is an efficient and comfortable way to see the sites. Buy a Strippenkaart pass at the train station when you arrive and you will receive discounted fares on multiple rides around the city. Fifteen strips are about seven euro. The tickets are valid for the metro and bus as well. Also, there are bike rentals on most every corner, making it easy to get around the city. If biking is not your transportation of choice, you can arrange for a green taxi service that operates electric vehicles.


We checked into our sustainable hotel, the Museum Square Hotel, which was entirely renovated in 2009, using environmentally friendly and sustainable materials. This small, modern hotel is located opposite the famous Concert Hall, a short walk from both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, and near the lively Leidseplein, which is well known for its great shopping and nightlife. All guest rooms feature one wall showing a forest scene, and very comfortable new beds with crisp white duvets. The public areas also keep the sustainable green theme, with an indoor plant wall in the reception area, and an attractive, small outdoor garden area, which is popular in the summer months.

Following our long trip and after getting settled in, we were famished and asked for a restaurant recommendation. We were directed to De Kas, located a short distance from De Hortus on the east side of town. This celebrated organic restaurant is housed in an old greenhouse saved from demolition by the owner and chef Gert Jan Hageman. De Kas serves the harvest of its own herb and vegetable garden along with locally sourced organic meat and fish.

The next day we were off to shop. While shopping on one of Amsterdam’s best shopping streets,  Haarlemmerstraat, we discovered Nukuhiva, one of the city’s best eco boutiques. This little store is just the place to find your favorite ethical fashion brands, including the Dutch brand, Kuyichi, which uses organic denim. And they carry other hip eco labels such as Edun, Loomstate and my favorite, Worn Again,which is an accessories brand that reuses textiles to make sneakers and bags.

The list goes on and on for green happenings and green sites to visit while in exciting Amsterdam. And we easily found a week’s worth of green gems to explore in this city so dedicated to being green. We all know that Amsterdam is famous for their red light district, but soon the entire city will be considered the “green” district and they are proud of it!

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