Copenhagen – a role model for eco-innovation
In Copenhagen, you are never far away from green parks, clean water and open spaces with fresh air. You can also eat, drink and sleep with a clear conscience
All that work has paid off, for the Danish Capital has received the European Green Capital award, an annual prize that encourages cities to improve quality of urban life by systematically taking the environment into account in urban planning and management. Appointed to be the world’s first Bike City from 2008-2011 by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the city has a clear aim to become the world’s first CO2 neutral capital by 2025.
That Copenhagen cares about the environment is clearly visible in the street scene. The water in the inner harbour is so clean you can take a dip in it, and the city is sprinkled liberally with green spaces. When the sun is out, you can take a break from the busy city life at the Assistens Kirkegård park in Nørrebro, a historic cemetery and the burial site for prominent Danes such as Hans Christian Andersen and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.
If you want to get around the city like a true Copenhagener, there is no way around hopping on a bike. World famous for being a bike city, 37 per cent of Copenhageners cycle to and from school or workplace, making Dronning Louise’s Bro [Queen Louise’s bridge] the busiest cycling spot in the western world. An estimated 35,000 cyclists stream across the bridge during morning rush hour. The ambition is that the 37 per cent figure will reach 50 per cent in 2015.
Organic restaurant scene
One take on green eating in Copenhagen’s culinary scene is seasonal cooking with local products, with the world’s best restaurant Noma (www.noma.dk) leading the way. Noma’s success has had a profound trickle-down effect on other restaurants practicing New Nordic Cuisine. Among them is the fully organic restaurant, Michelin-starred Geranium (www.geranium.dk) with head chef Rasmus Kofoed, winner of Bocuse d’Or 2011, giving him the title of World’s Best Chef. At the Michelin-starred restaurant Herman (ww.restaurantherman.dk), located within the Nimb complex, they serve radical interpretations of Danish classics. Green eating in Copenhagen, however, does not necessarily mean opting for a gourmet restaurant, as there are sustainable choices in all price ranges, such as the gastro pub Nose2Tail (www.nose2tail.dk) in the meatpacking district. As the name suggests, the concept is to use everything from the animal to avoid waste. The menu is determined based on which products are supplied by local organic producers on the day. Around the corner in the meatpacking district is the large organic restaurant BioMio (www.biomio.dk), where they serve organic, healthy food at reasonable prices in a laidback atmosphere. For a fast-food option, try eating at an authentic Copenhagen hot dog stand, with a green twist. By Copenhagen’s Round Tower you can find the city’s only organic hot dog stand – Den Økologiske Pølsemand. You can order hot dogs and fried sausages made from organic pork or beef. Side orders and drinks are also organic.
Besides organic soups, Soupanatural (www.soupanatural.dk) in Nørrebro specialises in healthy organic smoothies – or ‘Vitaminas’, as they call them – and organic cocktails to go. HarboBar café on Blågårdsgade makes organic coffee and cupcakes, and turns into a cocktail bar in the evening, where you can chose from a selection of organic beer, wine, cocktails and schnapps.
Lots of Copenhagen hotels tick the eco-friendly box, with 58 per cent of hotel rooms certified with the official Green Key guarantee. The 4-star Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers (www.cpcopenhagen.dk/en) in Ørestad, is Denmark’s greenest hotel, where 25 storeys of luxury join up with sustainability. The hotel’s CO2 neutral technologies include an advanced climate system, which uses groundwater for cooling during summer, and stores the heated water and recycles it to heat in winter. The result is a reduction of energy consumption for cooling and heating by nearly 90 per cent. Axel Hotel Guldsmeden, situated in the trendy district of Vesterbro, sets a high standard when it comes to sustainability and ecology. The breakfast buffet is 100 per cent organic with homemade yogurt, French cheeses and rustic bread and pastry from Emmery’s, an organic bakery. Furthermore, the hotel offers organic beauty products such as shampoo, body lotion and soap especially made for their rooms.
Sights by bus and Segway
For a convenient and eco-friendly sightseeing tour of Copenhagen, take the CityCirkel buses, route 11, which run all day on electricity from batteries charged during the night, thus emitting less CO2 and exhaust fumes than ordinary cars and buses. If you want an alternative means of transportation, take a guided tour of the sights on an environmentally friendly Segway. The special vehicle runs on rechargeable batteries and lets you glide around Copenhagen’s sights in a CO2-friendly and fun way. At Experimentarium (www.experimentarium.dk) in Hellerup, just north of Copenhagen, you can explore everything green in their permanent exhibition on energy use and production, on climate and the future.
Consumers in Copenhagen demand both organic and environmentally friendly products, and retailers have been paying attention. You will find a growing number of shops exclusively selling organic products and services. Noir, Ecoture by Lund and Jackpot are just some of the high style, high sustainability brands available. Eco Ego on Nørre Farimagsgade is a lifestyle store with clothing, shoes, bags, maternity wear, skin-care products, glass, toys and things for the garden. Everything is organic, fair trade and/or sustainable. The mini department store K29 sells trendy sustainable eco clothing, shoes and silver jewellery. Pure Shop on Grønnegade in downtown Copenhagen sells just about every organic beauty treat you can think of. It is Denmark’s first organic perfumery specialising in organic beauty care, hair treatment and make-up.
Images courtesy www.copenhagenmkediacenter.com