Unless you’ve chosen to deem the life’s work of thousands of scientific experts to be “fake news,” you’re likely a bit terrified about the climate emergency. And that’s okay. While watching Greta Thunberg sail around the world might give you comfort, you shouldn’t be all, “You go girl!” and then carry on living without reflecting on your individual day-to-day consumption choices. The “someone-else-will–fix-this-attitude” simply doesn’t work. In fact, there are many simple things everyone can do to work towards the world that Greta envisions. To make these decisions easier for you, we created this list with the best environmentally-friendly options Reykjavík has to offer.
Plastic’s not fantastic
Life on an island brings with it two inherent problems. Many things have to be imported and thus don’t only come with an inflated carbon footprint but also come wrapped in plastic. There are, though, some options for green grocery shopping.
Frú Lauga on Laugalækur offers a variety of both local and unpackaged products, and in Heilsuhusið in Kringlan, you may refill your brought-from-home containers at the bulk-booth. For you caffeine-heads, pick up some coffee in aesthetically-pleasing paper bags at Reykjavík Roasters.
While not everyone can afford splashing the extra cash on green choices, we can all refuse plastic bags when shopping. It won’t hurt your fruit or veg to be bare on the counter. It’s all about baby steps. For instance, if you’re a regular nammiland visitor on Saturdays, keep your candy bag and reuse it. You should also bring containers for take-away goodies. This has already become an established habit in other countries—let’s be part of that change.
New Old is always better
We all know that the prices of goods in retail stores do not represent their true cost. Most products come with externalised costs that are neither paid directly by customers nor by producers, but in the long-run, manifest in pollution and the exploitation of unskilled labourers.
If you want to get off the capitalist treadmill, Reykjavík offers a variety of second-hand stores that will not only resolve your crisis of conscience but also save you some cash. Extraloppan in Smáralind satisfies every fashionista’s heart and the multiple Red Cross stores even donate their profits to a good cause. For pre-loved furniture, head to Góði Hirðirinn in Sævarhöfði or browse the Facebook page Gefins, allt Gefins.
Vegan is the new meat
It’s now widely acknowledged that veganism is the most sustainable diet. Vegan dishes require way less water than a beef-burger, and don’t result in cow farts full of potent methane, which accelerates global warming. Gló on Laugavegur, Veganæs in Gaukurinn, and Burro on Veltusund are only some of the best vegan restaurants in town.
I am a passenger
Admittedly, making green-choices in transport can be a toughie. That said, the recently introduced scooter rental Hopp is a viable alternative to cars and buses when getting around the city. Environmentally friendly long-distance travel is hindered by the fact that Iceland lacks a railway system, but you can still reduce your emissions by finding someone headed your destination on car-sharing platforms like Samferða. Who knows, if you‘re very lucky you might even hitch a ride in a Tesla.
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