From shopping at zero-waste shops to discovering the city by bike, there are numerous ways to keep your carbon footprint low in Budapest. The city is also among those urban destinations that take part in annual international movements such as Earth Hour and Earth Day, two increasingly important environmental initiatives raising awareness of global climate change and promoting a sustainable planet.

Budapest is also fighting climate change and has been introducing green measures to help balance the harmful environmental effects of urban activity. If you visit or live in the Hungarian capital, here’s how you can contribute to the city’s nature-friendly initiatives.

Shop at zero-waste stores

In 2018, Budapest welcomed the city’s first zero-waste shop to eliminate synthetic packaging. Customers at these outlets can bring containers and canvas bags to pack their purchases displayed at the shop in bulk. First launched at Ligeti Bolt in central Pest, this sustainable trading practice soon spread across the Danube and now anyone can shop plastic-free on the Buda side: Ne Pazarolj fills milk, pasta and nuts into eco-friendly containers near Batthyány tér, while Pancs Bolt and Lemérem await in Újbuda.

Skip the straw when ordering a drink

Many city hangouts have committed to not offering plastic disposables automatically to customers. You can stick to this practice year-round by refusing synthetic straws at restaurants and bars or – where possible – opting for varieties that are easier to decompose and don’t harm the environment.

Get your drink in a reusable cup

With a lifespan of 100 uses, more solid disposable cups are winning over single-use plastic at Budapest hangouts. Several bars replaced ordinary plastic cups with thicker drinking containers, mostly at summer-only spots such as Budapest ParkKabin, Nap Bácsi, and Fellini. But you can find reusable cups at major festivals, like Sziget. Though the system is not perfect at all, it's a positive step forward for venues and festivals that eschew glass glasses to prevent accidents.

Discover the city by bike or e-scooter

Whether it’s for the daily commute or city sightseeing, hopping on a bike is a fun, fast and fundamental way to save the environment. Thanks to an ever-growing number of bike-rental companies and shops, it’s easy to get hold of human-powered conveyances, including vintage-style vehicles or modern e-bikes. Operated by the BKK public transport company, MOL Bubi has several docking stations for their green bikes, where you can pick up and drop off a cycle at your convenience. Also, you can hop on an e-scooter, such as TIER, and whoosh from one place to another in no time.

Sign up for an e-carsharing app

GreenGo, a popular carsharing service, helps eco-conscious drivers navigate Budapest with a fully electric fleet. Introduced in 2016 in the Hungarian capital, GreenGo provides easy access to electric cars 24/7 – you just need the app, a registration, and a valid driving licence. A handy digital map pinpoints the way to the closest cars, which you can book for free for 20 minutes, so no one takes it away while you get there.

More details here.

Visit meet-free eateries

From excessive water usage to gas emissions, animal farming has its own detrimental impact on the environment. If you are already a vegetarian or vegan or just want to cut down on your meat consumption, staying in Budapest shouldn’t pose a challenge to your dietary preferences. Restaurants that completely avoid using meet products include lunch specialists Nemsüti, canteen-style Vega City and traditional restaurant Napfényes. For plant-based burgers, go to TökmagVegan Love or EPOCH, and for pizza, Vegażżi. If you are after pub vibes, Szabad Bisztró will surely float your boat, while vegan pastries await at Fill Good. Find more vegetarian spots here.

Join an eco-focused and international community hub

As part of the Planet One initiative supporting the global youth movement for climate justice, Bolygó (Planet), an international community space on Margit körút, focuses on environmental protection. A professional maker space, podcast studio, and screening room await those with a great idea on the subject. You will find a supportive community full of acceptance and openness, and realise that thinking green is not only a duty and an interest but also a basic human need that must be met to feel good about ourselves.

This is a refreshed version of a previous article written by Petra Berende in 2018.