Amsterdam: Conscious Hotel Westerpark

At the beginning of March my sister and I embarked on a 4 day adventure in Amsterdam. The hotel we chose to stay in is part of a chain of 4 hotels called the Conscious Hotels.

They describe themselves as “eco-sexy” and I was excited to see what they do for the environment.

When walking in to the lobby the first thing I noticed was the aesthetic: baby pink + plants – very insta worthy. The check in was self-service but the desk is staffed 24/7 in case you need any help. The reception consisted of a small shop and a little cafe offering coffee, snacks and gifts which you could take home to your friends and family.

The Location

The hotel was, unsurprisingly, located at Westerpark, a great location for a hotel which is run on sun and wind energy. When booking the hotel it was difficult to determine where it was in relation to the places which were planning to visit. We ended up in a few uber trips back to the hotel as we were over an hours walk away by the end of the day. Regardless of how far out the hotel was, the views of the canals and bridges we passed whilst getting around never got old.

The Bedroom

First things first, the bed was HUGE. I don’t think I have ever slept in a bed of this magnitude. The big comfy bed paired with soft pillows had me sleeping like a baby.

The lighting was set up with three different switches, which were placed by the front door and on each side of the bed. This allowed either a combination of different lights to be on at the same time or just one light, such as a bedside table. This lighting saves energy as you do not need all the lights on at the same time.

The room had incredibly high ceilings and windows. There was a mini set of stairs to ensure you got a view of the outside world. Our room was overlooking Westerpark, the views were beautiful and further enhanced by some handy binoculars which were supplied on the windowsill. If it wasn’t so cold and windy for the duration of our stay the park would have been perfect for a bike ride or morning walk.

The Bathroom

The toilet was in a separate room to the shower and sink, meaning you had to walk across the room to wash your hands.

The toilet room was decorated with a big painting of a dog on the wall above the toilet, this gave me a bit of a fright when I thought it was a mirror in the middle of the night.

The shower room had underfloor heating, which was so nice under foot in the cold mornings. The sink and shower were stocked with clearly labelled vegan soap, moisturiser and shampoo – all of which smelt incredible. Once you had finished showering you were given a choice of dropping your towel on the floor to be collected and cleaned by the hotel or hung up on a hook to be used again. Reusing the towels results in saving water and unnecessary laundry.

The water from the bathroom sink tap was drinking water, allowing us to stay hydrated by refilling our own water bottles. We later found that all public bathrooms had drinkable tap water. This meant that the public tap water was always cold, not great for washing your hands but great for reducing electricity usage.

The Breakfast

On our first morning at the hotel we decided to take full advantage of the onsite breakfast. At 18€ per person we had pretty high hopes for what the buffet would entail. When opting for this option we were assured by a staff member that there were great vegan options available.

Upon entering the restaurant we were offered tea or coffee, I opted for tea (and requested some soya milk) which was brought over to our table once we were settled. I was pleasantly surprised to be served a selection of six different loose teas in cute little glass jars. Despite the range of teas available I went for a classic English Breakfast tea.

When approaching the food stand the vegan options were bread, granola and fruit. I asked the chef which options were vegan and he kindly made me a bowl of soya yogurt topped with granola, fresh fruit and dried fruit. In an attempt to get my moneys worth I also had some toast with peanut butter and berry compote.

We later found out that the buffet style breakfast was not the only breakfast available and that you could order from an à la carte menu. If we had known about this we wouldn’t have opted for the buffet as it was a little on the expensive side.

All In All

I really enjoyed my stay at this hotel. Previously, I have opted to stay in an Airbnb or hostel when visiting other countries. Whilst looking at the options in Amsterdam the prices for hotels and Airbnbs were so similar we decided to treat ourselves to a bit of luxury. It’s so nice to go out and return to a freshly cleaned room every day. The fact that we were able to find an ecofriendly place to stay is amazing and I hope more hotels follow suit in the future.

Until next time, Susan.

Plastic free period no. 1

What is a menstrual cup?

Menstrual cups are silicon bell-shaped cups which are used in place of tampons and/or pads during periods. They are reusable and last for years, saving you money and drastically reducing the waste caused by menstrual products.

Menstrual cups have been on my radar for a while. I’m sure you have heard of a few – mooncup,  organicup, diva cup. As there are so many different brands I decided to take an online quiz to find out which would be the best for me. The quiz I used is highly recommended and can be found at https://putacupinit.com/quiz/. Once completed the website will suggest 4 different cups which will be best suited to you.

My number one result was the size 1 Lunette Cup. I looked on the Lunette website to see what they were all about and ordered the cup from Amazon. (shout out to my brother for adding me to his prime account)

As someone who primarily uses pads I have always been a little apprehensive about using menstrual cups. But for the environment I’m willing to give it a try.

Initial thoughts

  • Smaller than I expected – menstrual cups always look so big in the videos and pictures
  • Not as firm as I expected – the cup is easily squished and folded
  • Surely it can’t be that difficult to use

The period

I was unusually waiting excitedly for my period to start and consequently it came slightly later than I expected. However, when it came to it I was a little scared about putting the cup in. I just kept thinking to myself STAY RELAXED.

Over the course of my period I noted down a few thoughts / occurrences.

Day one:

  • Not sure if placed correctly – spent around 20 mins trying to figure it out how to get the cup in the right position
  • Can feel the stem – its really uncomfortable
  • Taken out after maybe 5 hours and spilt the contents onto my white pyjama trousers

Day two:

  • Did not use

Day three:

  • Trimmed the stem – maybe too short now but it was definitely too long before
  • Mastered the art of putting in the cup – only takes few secs
  • Have not mastered removal
  • First time using when going to bed / sleep

Day four:

  • Removal is the hardest part – the cup seemed to move in the night so it was at an awkward angle and no longer straight
  • Not looking forward to later removal – the stem is possibly too short and it’s hard to reach the cup
  • The cup leaked and I am not putting it back in – stressful

Day five:

  • Did not use

The verdict

I am in two minds with the menstrual cup. On one hand I love the idea of how much less messy it is and how you don’t have to worry about it for 12 hours. On the other hand making sure it is in the right position (so it doesn’t leak) and taking it out makes using the cup stressful – which is not what you want when you need to be relaxed to achieve both of these things. From what I have read it takes a couple of cycles to get used to using a menstrual cup and I guess I will have to test this out for myself. Even though I want the menstrual cup to work for me it isn’t suitable for everyone.

I am thinking of also investing in and trying out some other zero waste menstrual products such as reusable pads or period underwear.

Until next time, Susan.

Starting my zero-waste journey

When I start something new, I always want to go out and buy everything new, fresh and ready. But, with this challenge I am going to resist these urges for a couple of reasons:

  1. Throwing out plastic items which are perfectly good and usable creates unnecessary waste
  2. I am hoping that I will save money in the long run ~ it would be a waste of my money ~

I am instead planning to replace items as and when they run out – giving me a chance to have a look into the alternatives available to the items I currently use.

As most of my plastic waste comes from food packaging, the first area I am focusing on is reducing my waste in the kitchen.

In order to do this I am firstly eating all the foods which are in plastic. This includes foods such as frozen chips and peas, crisps and chocolate. Once I have finished the plastic covered food I will decide whether I want to switch to a more eco version (e.g. plastic vs glass bottle of ketchup) or find alternatives such as roasted chickpeas rather than a packet of crisps.

My first trip to a zero waste store

There is a zero waste store in my town, less than a 5 minute walk from my flat. Before visiting I looked online at their stock list so I knew what was available. I assumed that they provide brown paper bags which I would be able to use when purchasing my goods, which I could later transfer into my glass containers. Unfortunately, they did not supply paper bags. I was told that I could use some of the old jars which others had left for unprepared people like me. Instead of using the jars available I decided to quickly pop home and use jars which I already own. Upon my return to the shop I purchased some popcorn kernels, split peas, dried apricots and spaghetti (which luckily came wrapped in brown paper as I do not have a long enough jar to store this in).

The struggle

I am only two weeks into this journey and I am in no way perfect at not buying plastic. The main issues I have come across are plastic from deliveries and foods such as cereal and bread.

  • I know that oats can come in paper but in my opinion cereal and porridge are two different things and I am on the hunt for a plastic free cereal
  • I thought that bakeries in supermarkets supplied brown paper bags for bread but most use plastic or a mixture of paper and plastic.

However, I’m sure there will be a solution for ~ most ~ problems I encounter on this journey.

Until next time, Susan.




Why I am embarking on a ‘zero-waste’ journey

In 2019 my New Years resolution is to work towards a zero waste lifestyle.

Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_waste

Establishing a ‘why’ is key when it comes to sticking to and achieving goals.

Over the past year the issue of plastic waste in the ocean and landfill sites has been highlighted and widely shared. TV programmes, such as Blue Planet II, have opened a lot of eyes and created a storm on social media. The outcome from this has generally been positive, with movement away from the use of plastic straws (protecting the turtles) and plastic bags (unless you’re willing to spend an extra 5 or 10p). 

I feel as though I have always known about the damaging effects of plastic on the environment, yet, I have done little to reduce my personal impact on the issue. When saying this I don’t mean to say that I do not try to reduce my plastic usage and waste. I carry around a refillable water bottle and I do own a reusable coffee mug which I ~sometimes~ remember to take out. Every time I have refilled my water bottle instead of purchasing a plastic one I’ve made a positive impact on the environment.

I feel that I am ready for the challenge of taking this to the next level. I know that living a life without producing any rubbish may sound impossible, and honestly, in the current world we are living in it is. Regardless, I am planning on working towards it to the best of my ability. Starting with plastic!

Now I am not expecting this to be easy but as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easily. I know that I will need to spend a lot of time researching and I am sure I will make mistakes, but the least I can do is try.

If you would like to follow me on this journey, please click the follow button!

Until next time, Susan.