Germany ranks high on the eco-conscious ladder, from promoting eco-design to penalties for not following home recycling rules, and is in fact Europe’s greenest city. As an eco-conscious consumer, travel can become limiting. All those plane miles can really start adding up to your carbon footprint, not to mention the consumerist behavior we often engage in when abroad (think buying crappy souvenirs, getting sucked into convenience food and drinks, or overusing uber!).
Enter, Berlin! Berlin is a fantastic destination for your next eco-conscious city break. It’s exciting and diverse, with lots of things to do for history buffs, foodies and eco-geeks alike.
I don’t think my 3-day trip to Berlin even scratched the surface of everything the city has to offer, but it’s a great place for a laid-back break. It isn’t crazy busy once you start venturing into neighborhoods, and I found it a great place to stroll around in the shade of the city’s many trees, stop for coffee and travel ‘slow’. I posted more of my everyday adventures on instagram; don’t forget to follow me on there too!
drink & buy coffee at THE BARN
For excellent coffee, I couldn’t recommend THE BARN enough. THE BARN has several locations in Berlin – the roastery doubling up as their distribution centre, so expect a more industrial atmosphere than their other commercial locations. The space itself is extremely minimal. The whirring of the roasting behind you, sipping your coffee from a mason jar sat on a wooden box… it has its charm.
The inherent nature of coffee farming is unfair, and many coffee buyers around the world are attempting to improve economic and environmental sustainability of the sourcing process. THE BARN are committed to paying fair prices and supporting farms and facilities they work with. Education lies at the heart of their environmental sustainability, with a focus on educating farmers on agronomy to ensure preservation of the ecosystem.
go sustainable grocery shopping
One thing I love about Germany is the strong presence of organic or ‘bio’ food, and ‘Biomarkts’ are found across the city, where you can find a wide array of organic grocery items, beauty products and personal health items. Germany is leading the way in sustainable retail, and ecofriendly options are often mainstream.
Head to Veganz in Friedrichshain or BIO MARKT on Friedrichstrasse (I went to both) if you’re into browsing healthy grocery stores. Both had a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, and Veganz had a small selection of bulk bins for cereal and grains. And don’t forget the muesli aisle – I was surprised at how much choice there was!
If you’re concerned about plastic waste, it is relatively easy to find plastic-free food on the go. Forego the more commercial street food markets and head to Markthalle Neun on a Thursday for eco-conscious/package free street food and drinks. That being said, I produced very little plastic waste on my trip by drinking all my coffees on site; sandwiches that were bought on the go were all packaged in paper (as were pretzels. Drool!)
Berlin is a vegan and healthy eating mecca. Despite not being fully vegetarian, especially when I travel, I managed to eat entirely meat-free on my trip, without needing to plan out my destinations. Berlin wouldn’t be Berlin without currywurst and döner, both of which you can find vegetarian/vegan as well. Turkish and middle eastern food have a strong presence in the city – I particularly liked Fatoush, where I had a really simple sesame-crusted halloumi salad.
I would also recommend HOLY FLAT! – FLATS & BOWLS in Neukölln, for simple lunch options. I had a Holy Bowl, with chickpeas and roasted vegetables, but all the orders coming out of the kitchen looked amazing.
stroll around Bikini Berlin
Bikini Berlin in Charlottenburg is not your average shopping mall. There are plenty of malls in Berlin if you’re after commercial brands like Zara, H&M, and the like, but Bikini features both pop-up stores for independent labels and permanent stores for more established brands like Doc Martens, Freitag, Samsoe & Samsoe, etc.
The mall also has regular event listings on sustainability, food, fashion and more. Don’t forget to visit the concept space on the rooftop called SUPER, or the foodhall on the first floor, where you’ll find a huge array of delicious, local food.
and of course, walk and use public transport!
Please, if you’re visiting Berlin, don’t use uber. Or taxis. Use bikes, electric bikes, electric scooters and the amazing public transport system. And walk! Berlin is extremely walkable, with most sights within a maximum of 10-15 minutes of the nearest train/u-bahn (underground) station. The government is committed to making the public transportation system as green as possible, and your ticket contributes to their efforts!
The visit Berlin website even has suggested bike tours to help you make the most of your time there.
More guides to green Berlin: