The plastic problem is getting bigger and bigger every day. I tried counting how many straws I threw away per day. The total number per month, multiplied by the human population, became a horrific statistic. I decided to buy myself a bamboo straw. There are many ways in which we can shift our habits a bit to lessen human waste. However, there are always real challenges. In this article, we are going to look at ways in which you can travel consciously and contribute just a little to the place you’re visiting: Hanoi!
Besides wonderful natural sights and meaningful cultural relics, Vietnam is also worth a visit in order to understand our initial efforts to lessen our environmental impact. A large portion of us are aware of how plastic and improperly-treated trash in general, is dramatically destroying our living environment. Hence, we’re trying to make the move. From switching into reusable takeaway cups to saying no to plastic straws (a big switch is being made to grass straws only grown in the Mekong Delta), we are step by step trying to bring a greener concept to consumers. Recently, Ho Chi Minh City created a law that requires trash sorting, which is great news for future generations. However, in an environment where people are still used to the old routine of disregarding trash, the new movement is facing a significant pool of difficulties. Most zero-waste businesses, consequently, are not here to earn a profit but to raise awareness. Therefore, you might not see many zero-waste businesses in the country, especially zero-waste hotels. We, as the locals, are extremely happy to see travelers helping out our cause and movement.
As a matter of fact, there are no zero-waste hotels in Hanoi! However, it is easy to refuse the plastic bottles given to you for free at these places. Some accommodations (Christina’s for example) offer free water in glass bottles and you can refill after use.
If you are looking for some real eco-friendly accommodations near Hanoi, take a look at this article.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE SERVICES
Bluebird’s Nest Cafe – To Chim Xanh
Well known among the young locals as a cultural hub that encourages a positive living attitude, Bluebird’s Nest is loved for its art events and eco-friendly practices. Very often, workshops are held that allow you to experience Asian old movies or Go Green daily habits. It’s needless to say that you will have many chances to meet like-minded people that share your interest here.
Address: 13 Alley 19 Dang Dung street, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 AM – 10:30 PM
If you are a fan of burgers, this restaurant should be your next dinner spot! Well recognized for high-quality burgers and local craft beers, Chops also ensures their foods are delivered with sugarcane fiber packaging, instead of foam boxes. With their internal deliveries, they use reusable containers to make sure that the least waste is produced.
The most easily accessible Chops is in the Old Quarter. They usually have an acoustic night on Friday evening. Another Chops is located on one side of West Lake, far away from the tourist area. But the good news is, it’s close to Tran Quoc pagoda! Make it a day, have lunch there, ask more about their concept, and spend your late afternoon in the peaceful ambiance of the pagoda.
Address: 12 Hang Bac street, Old Quarter, Hanoi | 4 Quang An street, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 AM – 12 AM
Spoonit’s service is superb but you won’t necessarily experience it first-hand. They deliver healthy lunches to locals (and of course travelers if you want to see how an eco-business functions). Their foods are well treated from the raw material selection process, and the packaging is totally eco-friendly. Sometimes it’s nice to know that you don’t have to combat the rain or the onslaught of plastic boxes just to eat a good, healthy meal.
Order Hotline: +84 86 851 7670
Refill My Bottle
What will you do if your re-fillable water is empty? Hop into a convenience store and grab another one? You don’t need to! There are dozens of water refill stations in the most touristy areas of Hanoi that are waiting for you to quench your thirst. Refill My Bottle is a project started in Indonesia to minimize the number of plastic bottles. Feel good about your decision while you hydrate!
First, download their Mobile App to get a map of refill stations nearby. It finds your location and finds the closest refill station! More interestingly, the refill stations are usually inside an eco-cafe or eco-stay. This means you might stumble upon many more interesting and green experiences in the city! Sounds cool, doesn’t it?
Go Eco Hanoi
The idea of a refill grocery station, where you bring your own containers to fill, has just emerged in big cities of Vietnam lately. Go Eco Hanoi is the first store that brings this idea into practice in Hanoi.
If you buy items in shops like this, you will dispose dramatically less waste. Every corner of this shop illustrates the young owner’s great effort to embrace showing locals how to be plastic-free and encourage zero-waste habits. You can find a whole bunch of things such as dried nuts, beans, rice, jams, soaps, inox straws, to name just a few. Don’t forget to bring your own containers, or you also can buy/ borrow some from the shop!
This shop is looking for a new location. Don’t forget to catch up with them on their Fan Page before you get there.
Address: 11 Alley 132, Kham Thien district, Hanoi
Opening hours: 9 AM – 9 PM
Tre means bamboo, a signature of Vietnam. It’s a great place for sustainable souvenir shopping since they carry many products made by eco-friendly manufacturers. The shop brings you a wide choice of household items made from bamboo, some of them are only available in Vietnam.
Address: 2K3 Dam Trai, 208 Giai Phong alley, Thanh Xuan district, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
The local fashion brand for youngsters, Jamlos, has expressed their concern about the plastic issue. With the insight that people refuse to bring their personal containers because it destroys the fashionable look, this brand started to create fabric holders such as cup holders. Such items encourage customers to refuse the extra bag when they buy coffee to go or other such bags when grocery shopping.
Besides these well-designed bags, there are various clothes that will suit your Asian-inspired design tastes.
Address: 30 Au Trieu street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi
Opening hours: 10 AM – 9 PM
The wave of zero-waste habits and sustainable traveling is getting more intensive, as waste is becoming a huge issue day after day. The young people of Vietnam, together with many expats living in town, are taking the lead to address this problem. We hope that there will be more solutions to come in the future, and that you will join us in making this dream real. If you are interested in more sustainable traveling topics, have a look at these articles:
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s blog!