Eco tips for Amsterdammers

By Nia Clarke, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

Whether you’re interested in individual consumer tips or the hotspots for environmentalists in the city, please have a read!



Use the train or bus when affordable. Amsterdam is likely to be one of the only countries that are accessible via train from the UK so make the most of it! It’s very doable if you live in the South of England and book a few months ahead. I’m currently writing this on my first Eurostar from St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal and feel like a productive businesswoman looking busy and important.

Fact: The carbon footprint from one flight is the same as THIRTEEN Eurostar journeys.

Upon arrival, proceed to buy a bike – Swapfiets is an affordable rental service, but buying one from a market is more money savvy because you can cash in at the end of the year by selling back to the markets. There are also plenty of free bike repair workshops that teach you valuable things for life. Other options could be Facebook Marketplace, my flatmate got an incredible road bike for 40 euro. Or use the Dutch platform Markplaats once you have a Dutch bank account.

Another tip would be to pay for a Swapfiets between a group of you to share for your visitors, this works out significantly cheaper than short-term rentals and is great to give your friends the real experience of the city. Just beware that you are tied into a 6 month contract if you choose the cheapest option – around 18euro a month.


If you’d like to visit some of Europe whilst you’re here, first check that you’ve gotten to know Amsterdam and your local neighbourhood, there will be hidden gems and tons of things to do. Next, go and explore more of the Netherlands (I would recommend Haarlem for a sunny day at the beach and for its winter markets, Utrecht and its lovely public library, Rotterdam for its astonishing architecture and the photography museum, the Hague because it’s arguably the political epicentre of Europe and has an amazing beach + panorama. Later this year I’m planning to visit the Frisian islands, Groningen, Brussels, and Texel, so look out for my next blog 🙂

And last, embrace travelling slow, it’s part of the fun. I would recommend checking local trains and flixbuses to neighbouring countries. Which reminds me, get an OV Chipkaart once you arrive because this reduces the cost of each journey on public transport. You can buy an anonymous version at the stations or a personalised one once you have a Dutch bank account. Although it was a bit far, I had a wonderful time in Copenhagen with my group of friends by going on night buses which weren’t too bad and saved paying for two nights at the hostel.

Food and groceries

Dependent on where you’re living, you may not be provided with an oven or freezer. Say goodbye to frozen chips and bulk cooking, and hello to fresh cooking that can still be affordable.

Buy from markets – don’t be scared, everyone speaks English and will want your business. Take a walk around to compare prices for a little while. Remember to bring your own bags or containers because they’re still suckers for giving everything to you in a plastic bag. Even so, it’s cheaper to buy groceries this way. If you prefer supermarkets, Go. To. Lidl. Easily the cheapest supermarket. Avoid Albert Heijn at all cost, and if push comes to shove use a BONUS card that you can request from any cashier to get a discount.

Food – If you’re a food waste warrior like myself, I have plenty of tips for you. Vegan is certainly the cheapest way to cook. Meat, although still not appropriately priced, is still very expensive according to my meat-eating friends so my advice would be to not be a carnivore. Or a flexitarian at best.

Eat communally –  This is inexplicably nicer than a lone pot noodle. You could do this by hosting mini dinner parties or visiting community hubs who provide communal dinners. There are loads in Amsterdam – Joe’s Garage, De Sering, Take Before Waste (just by uni), Robin Food, Mollie’s.

Too Good to Go –  This is a great way to get a cheap dinner or baked goods B) A Fantastic way to see the city, I’ve been to loads of new places on the hunt for scran.


Thrifting – My flatmate is a fashion student and was asked to make a wardrobe profile the first week of uni. Why? To make all students document the amount of clothes they had in order to understand that they had plenty. I followed his tracks and soon found out I had a silly amount of clothes. If you want to seek out some cool Dutch attire, I would recommend KRINGLOOPWINKELS (heart emoji). They are the supreme charity shops of this cheese-eating country, and they have some absolute gems, it’s also an idea to go the affluent areas to pick up someone’s designer hand me downs.

Kringloopwinkels – Speaking of kringloopwinkels, they not only sell clothes, but everything else under the sun. Lights, speakers, cups, drums, ski gear, books, cd’s, trinkets, knives, helmets, bikes, candles, games, camping gear, pianos, sofas, sleeping mats, golf clubs, weird tins dedicated to Dutch royalty….I mean everything. So not only do you save consuming new things from Ikea, you get cute personal gifts and a great experience with friends.

Don’t fall for the individual action

Ultimately, what I’ve come to understand about environmental action is that it is so much more than individual consumer choice. Although I take pride in carrying my reusable cup around and making good vegan food, individualising the environmental problem seems to be doing more harm than good. What I mean by this is that responsibility is deflected to the wrong people, it’s not really Joe Blogg doing their everyday thing that’s harming the planet, it’s the fossil fuel industry! So, my advice would be to engage in ethical consumer choices when possible, don’t ever feel bad if you can’t because its unaffordable, and understand individualising climate change is a political agenda for those in power to continue their selfish ways. Aside from this, go join a political group who want to do something about it and who call out the real culprits!

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