Eco-sustainable tourism: In and around Rotterdam
Located in the region of South Holland, the city of Rotterdam has established itself as a fast-growing world port. However, with countless ships passing through each day, the impact on the environment is substantial. Still, in its development, Rotterdam is showing a keen interest in sustainability. From rooftop gardens to floating homes, the city is investing in projects aimed at reducing its carbon print.
This concern towards “greener” ways is also reflected in the approach towards tourism, as the city displays green hotels and innovative buildings, organic stores and street art made from recycled materials. The suggestions below are aimed at helping eco travelers get an insight into what makes Rotterdam so different from the other Dutch cities, while enjoying a visit to its many attractions.
PORT OF ROTTERDAM
Placing an industrial site at the top of an eco destinations list might not seem like an obvious choice. Nonetheless, a tour through the 40 kilometers of busy shedding, trading, and transit offers a glimpse on how modern industry is adapting its ways in order to reach sustainability goals. Rotterdam’s Port Authority works for the port to become the most sustainable in the world, while cutting the carbon emissions by half until 2025.
As a result, biobased companies are located around the port. Also, amongst the chemical companies and power plants, the port also houses production companies using renewable energy. Moreover, Dutch scientists are looking into developing new ship coating, or using collapsible containers, ways to make a difference when it comes to the environment.
Currently, the port is extending with the construction of container terminal Maasvlakte 2, and environmental aspects, such as the level or air pollution, are taken into account by the developers, who wish to have sustainable businesses as clients.
GREEN KEY HOTELS
The “Green Key” eco-label is awarded to accommodations operating in a sustainable way, with respect to, for example, energy usage and technology. Almost a hundred hotels in Rotterdam have received this key. In fact, most of the hotels in this city use green energy, such as wind, and have installed a green roof with vegetation.
Hotel New York, situated in the former headquarters of the Holland America cruise line, is one of the hotels who have received a Gold Green Key as recognition for their way of running business. The hotel developed ways to save water and energy, it uses durable printing, low environmental impact cleaning products, and its restaurant offers a separate organic menu each month. Electric vehicles can also be charged on the adjacent pier.
Rotterdam is notable for its modern, at times quirky architectural design. One example is the recently opened and immediately coined as the “food walhalla” of the Netherlands, the Markthal. This is an indoor market offering fresh food from local producers, while the arch above the market displays a huge vivid artwork and houses apartments.
Ten stories high and the size of a football pitch, the building has been designed with an eye on sustainability: the interior climate is comfortable with low energy use, the hall is ventilated naturally, and a sanitation system is aimed at saving water. Also, the tenants of the apartments are asked to sign a lease agreement regarding the sustainable use of water and energy, as well as the managing of waste and the use of healthy construction materials. In addition, following an ecologist’s advice, the facade of the building offers bat stays and nests for swifts.
THE GREEN PASSAGE
More than an organic supermarket with, among other good foods, vegetables only to be found here, the Passage hosts an organic restaurant, a bio drug store, a world shop for exotic gift ideas, and a store with natural products for home interiors.
It is even possible to follow a course on adopting a natural, balanced lifestyle, while visiting the book store will supply the needed course materials. The passage is truly a green oasis in Rotterdam.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE KINDERDIJK
Any eco traveler visiting the Netherlands should definitely take some time for a journey to Kinderdijk, just 15 kilometers east of Rotterdam.
Kinderdijk is a village featured as an UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases the largest array of old windmills in the world. Once might view renewable energy as a modern concern, however, these mills dating from the 1500s were draining polders in order to keep water from flooding a country mostly located below sea level. Also, the village is a serene, beautiful place to learn about and enjoy the characteristic lifestyle and landscape of the Dutch.
It seems Rotterdam does have a green future ahead. As initiatives continue to develop, and the architecture continues to surprise visitors, tourists are of course invited to contribute to the sustainable approach during their trip.