Ultimate Guide to Going Zero Waste in Amsterdam

Last Updated: 21 September 2019

This is your go-to guide for being eco-friendly and living zero waste in Amsterdam.

simply flowers with text overlay: the ultimate guide to living zero waste in amsterdam

Learn more about the options in the city, including which shops offer bulk bin refills, where you can go plastic-free, how to participate in your community composting, and how you can get rewarded (discounts & free services) for recycling in the city.

If you’re looking to transition your lifestyle to be more zero waste in Amsterdam, or are simply interested in learning about the options and initiatives here, this guide covers the shops, markets, and organizations that have helped me fight the ongoing war on waste!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase or sign up for a program, I may earn a commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Resources for Living Zero Waste in Amsterdam

Bulk Foods / Shops / Farmers’ Markets

  • Little Plant Pantry: zero-waste whole-foods store dedicated to minimizing waste and offering natural, healthy products. Map it.
  • De Oliewinkel: bulk oils from different regions in the Mediterranean, kinds of vinegar, sauces, pestos, and more. Purchase your bulk products in their reusable glass bottles and receive a discount the next time you use the same bottle. Map it.
  • Jacob Hooy Amsterdam: an old-fashioned pharmacy with herbal remedies, tea, and candy – in wooden barrels. Map it.
  • Simon Lévelt: bulk tea leaves and coffee beans + related accessories. Map it.
  • Olives & More: bulk olives and olive oil for a refill. Fresh organic pasta every Friday and Saturday. This shop also supplies olive oil to Michelin star restaurants. Map it.
  • il Pastificio: freshly made pasta with authentic ingredients. Map it.
  • Romios Griekse Traiteur: a Greek restaurant with ready-made food for take-out. Also offers bulk honey and olive oil for refills. Map it.
  • Kaas en Zo: shop offering nuts and cheese in bulk. Map it.
  • Oil & Vinegar: so many varieties of oil and vinegar in bulk containers. The closest location is in Amstelveen. Map it.
  • Biologische Noodermarkt: organic farmers market every Saturday from 9am – 4pm selling fresh vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese, mushrooms, herbs, meat, fish, honey, flowers, and other delicious foods. A perfect place to shop zero waste. Map it. My favorite apple pie shop is just next door!
  • Delicious Food: this small shop has the largest variety of bulk bins in Amsterdam. With various kinds of pasta, rice and other grains, dried fruits & nuts, granola & cereals, chocolate covered nuts, spices, and dried lentils, amongst other yummy selections. Map it.
  • Siem van der Gragt: Butcher shop selling ecological meats directly from the farmer. Ecological means that the highest priority is on ensuring a closed-loop cycle between the health of the land and animals. Better for the environment and animals, and better quality meat. Read more about the difference here. Map it.
  • Ekoplaza: an organic grocer with multiple locations around Amsterdam. At the Jan Pieter Heijestraat location, they have dedicated an entire aisle that is “plastic-free”. They hope to roll out this “plastic-free” aisle to all of their locations soon. Map it.
  • Albert Cuypmarkt: bring your own containers when shopping for dried fruits & nuts, hummus & Mediterranean dips & olives, fresh fruits & vegetables & herbs, seafood, and chicken. Also, bring some eating utensils and enjoy freshly made Dutch sweets on the spot – try the poffertjes & stroopwafels! Map it.

Home Supplies

  • DIY Soap: Create your own natural and organic soaps, lotions, deodorants, and bamboo and cotton bath accessories. I made a body scrub for myself there – it works wonderfully and smells so good! Map it.
  • oodles and pinches: A small independently-owned shop based out of Haarlem offering refills and sustainable products for personal care. They also have a webshop. Map it.

** Exclusive oodles and pinches perk for Paws and Pines readers: click here **

  • Eco-Logisch: A general home and hardware store offering sustainable and eco-friendly products. They offer Ecover bulk refills (for an all-purpose cleaner, liquid detergent, and dishwashing liquid) in-store as well as 5L bottles for purchase to home. Map it.
    Marqt: Grocery store with environmentally-friendly alternatives for household products. These include wooden dish brushes, sponges, eco-friendly sponges, soaps & detergents, toilet paper & paper towels made of 100% post-consumer recycled material and more. Map it.
  • Georganics UK: All natural and sustainable oral care products in glass jars or compostable packaging. They offer toothpaste, mouthwash tablets, natural floss, and more. For reference, a 250ml jar of toothpaste (cost GBP 12.90) will last 1 person approximately 1 year. A flat fee of GBP 4.50 for shipping to the Netherlands.

Food & Restaurants

  • Instock: a restaurant that serves delicious meals based on what’s in stock (get it?). The restaurant seeks to minimize food waste by creating meals based on the food surplus from grocery stores (i.e. Albert Heijn). As such, the menu is constantly changing and the options may be a bit more limited, but all will be delicious and not wasteful! Map it.
  • Too Good to Go: an app (iPhone/Android) to prevent good food from going to waste. Use the app to find stores, bakeries, restaurants, and caterers that are selling their food surplus at big discounts (50+% discount) to try to avoid food waste. Perfect too if you can bring your own container to prevent more packaging waste!

Tourism & Hotels

  • Conscious Hotel (2 near Vondelpark, 1 near Westerpark): Everything in the hotels is either recycled, or certified, or fair trade. The hotels run on wind energy and are water-efficient. They clean without harsh chemicals. Food and drinks are organic.
  • Plastic Whale: When in Amsterdam, go boating through the canals! As an eco-enthusiast, consider going with the Plastic Whale organization, which runs boats through the city while you go “fishing” for plastic.

Pets

General Food & Water

  • Vegan Sundays: learn how to make delicious vegan foods so you can make it yourself at home all the time. Look at the class schedule to see when you can learn to make kimchi / fermented veggies, falafel/hummus, and protein-rich plant-based foods.
  • Bread: all bakeries in Amsterdam offer freshly baked, unpackaged bread, croissants, and other pastries. Many grocery stores (i.e. Albert Heijn, Marqt, Landmarkt) also bake fresh goods daily. In the grocery stores, most goods are packaged for “convenience”, but you can request from the baker behind the counter for the freshest ones that haven’t yet been packaged.
  • Seafood: Many different types of marinated and fresh seafood unpackaged at the grocery store Marqt and most of the fish stores that are known for the pickled herring sandwiches (i.e. Vishandel Molenaar); whole fish available at street markets, and classic Dutch herring at fish stands (ie. Frens Haringhandel).
  • Water: scattered throughout the city, you will find water fountains to refill your reusable water bottle. Maintained by the city water company, Waternet. Map the free water.

Second-Hand Shopping / Rentals

Here is a interactive MAP of all the second-hand stores in Amsterdam offering everything from designer clothes, to vintage accessories, to household goods.

Filter by category (or by my personal rankings!)

Additionally, you can browse through these online resources:

  • United Wardrobe is an app for selling and buying second-hand apparel in the Netherlands. From my experience as of late 2017, there weren’t many good options for me.
  • Amsterdam Deelt/Geeft is a Facebook group for freecycling, meaning everything offered is required to be free.  The purpose of the group is in giving an item a second-life and avoiding landfills. This group is perfect for those just moving to the city. I’ve seen very high-quality goods being offered like sofas, kitchenware, pet accessories, and more. The listings move very fast as the first person that comments on each post is offered the product.
  • Buy Nothing Oost/De Pijp is the Amsterdam-based sprout of Facebook the national Buy Nothing Project. The Amsterdam group is still super small, but it will grow eventually. Join in and support it. Buy Nothing’s missions is ‘Give. Share. Build Community’ and is a great way to share resources and get to know your neighbors. Here’s a guide on how to use the Buy Nothing Project.

Online Shopping

  • Leven Zonder Afval: a webshop (in Dutch) with a large selection of products/tools that can help you live a more zero-waste lifestyle.
  • Amazon DE or Amazon UK or Dutch-based bol.com: Self-explanatory.
  • Big Green Smile NL: An online store offering eco-friendly, animal-friendly cosmetics and cleaning products. If you’re looking for Ecover products in bulk, you can purchase it in 5-liter bottles here. When there is no zero-waste solution, the largest bulk size is your most waste-free solution.
  • 100%eco: An online shop selling 100% recycled paper products (i.e. toilet paper, paper towels, etc.) and biodegradable cleaning solutions.
  • Kitchen Hugs: An online website selling kitchen and other household products out of the NL.
  • Pit & Pit: For your ordering of herbs, superfoods, nuts, sweeteners, and bio-degradable coffee capsules in bulk.

Rent / The Shared Economy

If you have a fancy event or memorable celebration coming up and need a special occasion dress, consider renting a high-quality designer dress instead of buying multiple cheap dresses or having to re-wear the same one over and over again.

  • Lena Library: Monthly clothing subscription out of Amsterdam where you can swap out clothes at physical locations or mail.

** Exclusive LENA Library perk for Paws and Pines readers: click here **

  • At Drexcode, you can rent a high-end dress and accessories at around 10-20% of the cost of the retail price. Extra costs include EUR 5 for insurance and cleaning; and EUR 14 for shipping both ways.
  • Girl Meets Dress is a UK rental service for dresses and accessories. A flat GBP 30 and covers shipping both ways to the Netherlands and dry-cleaning.
  • Bundles: You can rent home appliances so you don’t have to worry about properly recycling/disposing of them once you don’t need them anymore. With Bundles, you can rent a washer, dryer, dishwasher, or coffee maker (for those who want instant coffee without wasteful coffee pods!).

** Exclusive Bundles perk for Paws and Pines readers: click here **

  • Peerby: Rent things to and from your neighbors. Listings include bakfiets for the day, power tools, carpet cleaners, etc. Great for items you only need to use occasionally!

Green Energy (Electricity and Gas)

The Netherlands is not on track to reach it’s renewable energy target of 16% by 2020 and currently lags the other EU countries in terms of progress.

If you would like to switch to a more sustainable energy source, check out this post about green energy providers in Amsterdam.

Learn the difference between green electricity and gas (as opposed to grey electricity and gas). And see which providers offer local, green energy.

How to Recycle in Amsterdam

In the city of Amsterdam, less than 30% of all waste is separated, compared to over 50% on average for the whole of the Netherlands. The city has the goal of separating at least 65% of waste by 2020. Help the city achieve this goal – here’s how to recycle:

  • Plastics, glass, paper, and textiles have dedicated collection bins scattered throughout the city. Here is a map to find the ones near you.
  • Household goods also have dedicated collection bins, though they are more sparsely located. Additionally, you can return them to stores that sell similar items and they will dispose of them responsibly.
  • Lightbulbs and batteries are accepted in supermarket collection boxes.
  • Large plastic bottles, glass beer bottles, and beer crates are part of a deposit scheme in the Netherlands. Return these items to receive your deposit back. If it states statiegeld on the bottle, you paid a deposit when you purchased the item.
  • Unused medicine can be returned to the pharmacy (human) or veterinarian office (pet).

I’ve also written is a complete and very detailed post on how to recycle everything properly in Amsterdam.

Notable Initiatives

  • Zero Waste Lab: an innovative company that seeks to incentivize recycling through a program called WASTED. It tracks your separated recyclables and rewards you with coins. These coins are redeemable at local businesses for free products or discounts. Separation bags are offered for paper, cardboard, clean plastic, PET plastic, textile, small household appliances with a plug, batteries, lights (not fluorescent tubes) and latex paint. The Zero Waste Lab is in Dutch, but the actual website to sign up on (and to learn more about the program) is available in English here.
  • Stichting Buurtcompost: a neighborhood-based initiative to provide community composting in Amsterdam. The organization builds “worm hotels” for vermicomposting to turn vegetable & fruit scraps and garden waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer. If you want access to the composting initiative in Amsterdam, sign up here.
  • Fashion for Good: A investment funding platform and business accelerator working to disrupt the wasteful practices observed in the fashion industry. They often host events like hosting discussions about the topic, running clothing swaps, and providing the opportunity to meet and learn from the funded start-ups.

Are you a business or organization with an environmentally-friendly initiative or are working towards a zero waste Amsterdam? For consideration in this guide, please contact me.

simply flowers with text overlay: the ultimate guide to living zero waste in amsterdam

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