Green travel guide to Copenhagen

Recently we have paid a visit to the stunning Copenhagen. In our brand directory you have probably already spotted the newest additions, and last week we also highlighted some of the brands and conscious stores that we discovered in CPH. This week we will look at the Danish capital more holistically, from an eco-travel point of view. A USUAL HEALTHY DOSE OF SELF-JUDGMENT AS TRAVELLERS AND A FEW GREEN TIPS TOO.

GETTING TO AND AROUND Copenhagen, Denmark (WOMB’S GREEN SCORE: 4/5)

We are subtracting one point from out green score because yes, we flew to Copenhagen. Both of us traveled from other places in Europe, so technically we could have taken the train. Yet the convenience, faster traveling time and lower price made us choose the less conscious option.

However, we can proudly admit that getting around Copenhagen was as green as chlorophyll! We walked (the city is rather small and especially the distances within the city centre are walkable and it is easy to navigate around), we biked (our Airbnb host provided bikes, but one can also rent public bikes and small electric scooters), and the metro and ”S-tog” system (system of public trains in the capital area) is easy and convenient. One must buy a ”Rejsekort” - a magnetic travel card to check in and out of the trips on means of public communication. The card allows multiple people (even with bikes and pets) to check in together, so even when traveling as a couple, one card is enough. You “tank it up” with a deposit, and then the travel fare is subtracted from your account balance on the card. 

I <3 VEGANS stickers all over Copenhagen.

I <3 VEGANS stickers all over Copenhagen.

GREEN EATING IN COPENHAGEN (WOMB’S GREEN SCORE: 5/5)

Communication is key, and since almost everyone in Denmark speaks English and the general evil of education about different dietary preferences as well as intolerances is very high, it is easy to explain and order dishes that cater to your special preferences.

There are many vegan eateries around Copenhagen, but it is also common for regular restaurants and cafes to have vegetarian and vegan options. We lunched at WE DO FOOD, L’appetit and we grabbed vegan snacks even at 7-11 (plastic-packaged, sadly, and hence the minus in our waste-score further down, but we were happy to see that eg. Coffee cups for take-away were made of biodegradable materials)!

Eating out in Copenhagen is pricy, so for some meals we also cooked at home. Groceries came from Wefood Copenhagen (the surplus food store) - a food concept store where unsold, expired or faulty packaged food from supermarkets ends up to be sold at a cheaper price. Happy wallets and less food waste! What is NOT to like?

For more green groceries, we recommend LØS (located in Nørrebro and Vesterbro respectively), a zero-waste bulk store where “sad” veggies are given out for free! Even happier wallet, still less food waste!

CONSCIOUS SHOPPING IN Copenhagen (WOMB’S GREEN SCORE: 4/5)

Already a week ago we shared with you the brands that impressed us in Copenhagen, and we can only be adding to that. Shops like Res Res or Sur Le Chemin or Be Awear sell not only slowly and consciously manufactured clothes, but also zero-waste accessories ranging from reusable cups, metal straws all the way to cellulose based kitchen cloths.

Lovers of vintage fashion are also in for a treat in Copenhagen. We must admit that we did not have any vintage stores on our agenda, but we have indeed passed quite a few!

Postcard aka business card from Res Res.

Postcard aka business card from Res Res.

Denmark has a long history of care and love for design, and hence “quality over quantity” is in a way ingrained in the Danish culture and way of consuming. Even when not marked as “sustainable” per se, many of the design and artifact shops in Copenhagen promote slow design and mindful production. What we also experienced was that the staff of the small boutiques and independent fashion or accessories shops was very knowledgeable about where the items were made and designed respectively, which pointed towards a relatively high level of transparency in the production chain. 

What we did not find were concept stores dedicated to cruelty free design. Most boutiques we entered and most of the owners/designers that we chatted to admitted that they used wool in the production, which may be linked to the fact that the weather conditions in Denmark call for warm, thick garments... most of the year! Demand always triggers the supply. 

WASTE (WOMB’S GREEN SCORE: 3/5)

The recycling possibilities in Copenhagen are at their highest, but it can be difficult for tourists to navigate around them. Household recycling is common and easy, but for us staying at an Airbnb, it was difficult to figure out where the right bins were. We did recycle metal cans, but we did not see composting possibilities. For all the plastic bottles purchased in Denmark one must pay an additional “deposit” fee that will be given back to you upon returning the bottle to a bottle collecting machine (that are literally everywhere to be found). In fact, many homeless people make money by collecting and returning the bottles, and trash bins in Copenhagen are sometimes designed in a way that allows leaving your plastic bottles visible and easily collectible for those who are willing to return them. 

In terms of waste in the streets, you don’t really see much of it, there are bins everywhere and people tend to use them. There is also general awareness around plastics and the overuse of disposable items, an awareness that seems natural, and is probably due to the relatively high education level and living standards in Denmark. 

ECO TRAVEL CONCLUSION

Maybe not to much surprise, our green score from the trip to Copenhagen is relatively high (16 out of 20), in comparison to some of our previous trips. In a country where we can easily communicate and where our requests are understood and easily met (eg. a request for a vegan meal or a request to skip the straw), it is fairly straightforward to implement the conscious ideology. Eco options are widely available and asking for them is neither met with discontent nor misunderstood. 

We could therefore go a step further and ask why the score isn’t higher. In Copenhagen we had the possibilities, the general awareness, the facilities to live 100% eco-friendly, so what happened? Our compromises were caused by lack of thorough knowledge of local recycling policies and possibilities as well as time- and space-limitations while traveling.

But also... when traveling we are yearning to try local foods, we want to buy the local snacks, visit museums that print non-recyclable tickets. We are... conscious sinners. We could have prepared every lunch at the Airbnb, packed it into glass jars and taken them with us on the road. We could have done nothing but walking in the parks and we could have openly walked out of cafes that don’t serve lose leaf tea (you can read about what is wrong with conventional tea HERE).

But this trip was not about that. And honestly, unless your name is Greta Thunberg and you are an eco-activist in a journey to prove a point to the whole entire world, a CO2 neutral, waste-free, low impact, sustainable tourism might be an oxymoron.

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