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Sustainable Living in Maastricht: A 101-Guide

Have you ever wondered where the great number of sustainable stores, cafés and restaurants in Maastricht come from? Or have you thought about getting involved in one of the varying sustainable student projects existing in Maastricht but could never decide which one? Have you intended to live more sustainable in 2019, become actively involved in fighting for a good cause, eat healthier, buy local food, or simply use a bit less plastic whenever possible? Either way, this part one of two articles listing sustainable student-led projects, as well as Second-Hand shops, local supermarkets, vegan and sustainable cafés and restaurants, which in one way or another support sustainable living in Maastricht with almost no effort.

While the food market every Wednesday and Friday (9-3pm) is more sustainable than buying fruits and vegetables at other supermarkets, the food is still shipped from other continents and plastic bags are used in great masses. In addition to selling local vegetables and fruits during the summer, the stands sell mangos from Malaysia, avocados from Peru and pineapples from Costa Rica. Perhaps there is a better substitute?

The farmer’s market is great for avoiding plastic or buying fresh and cheap, but features not always the most sustainable veggies or fruit.

The alternative is called:

1. Gedeelde Weelde

This new and 100% organic supermarket is located behind the Student Hotel (where the Waterhouse Gallery used to be). While it is not 100% plastic-free yet, all vegetables and fruits are plastic-free, and you can find many products from local wholesalers, such as delicious juices and cheeses. So, make sure not to forget your own Tupperware, bags and containers when buying your fresh food there. Additionally, the shop is currently working on opening a container wall in order to decrease plastic usage for products such as rice, cornflakes, flour, pasta and nuts.

the soon-to-be-opened container wall at Gedeelde Weelde

Other smaller supermarkets/supplement stores throughout the city which are organic, plastic free and/or sell food from local wholesalers are:Natuurwinkel, Holland&Barrett and Balsemien Gesundheitswinkel.

If you do not want to give up eating meat or fish, a good option is to buy both at the market in order to support local butchers and fishmongers. If you share your purchase with a friend and buy in bigger quantities or look out for special offers, local and higher quality meat and fish is about the same price as at Dutch supermarkets. Other butchers with more extensive opening hours than the market are Willems (Brusselsestraat 37) and Yildiz Plaza (Holsteinbastion 49).

Next to buying local food and using less plastic, you can become actively involved in local projects or join a new community through the following projects:

2. Maastricht Goes Vegan at the Hed Landhuis

… is a weekly community activity for all those interested in learning how to cook delicious vegan food and gather some collective thoughts on sustainability. The gathering starts at 6:30pm every Tuesday. You will cook a delicious 3-course meal for the price of 5€. You need to sign up on the Maastricht Goes Vegan Facebook page where all the events are posted beforehand.

3. Famous Foodbank (every Friday)

… is an initiative to reduce food waste by bringing people together. Every Friday they pick up orphaned vegetables and fruits at the food market and upcycle them in a group of volunteers into delicious vegan dishes. Cooking starts at 4pm and dinner at 8pm every Friday. You can join whenever, and the project is donation based (remember to bring coins).

4. Voko Maastricht

This organization is a Maastricht-based cooperative for organic food. By buying directly from regional wholesaler’s, prices are kept low and the quality of the products is ensured. You can order regional products online through signing up on the Facebook page once. After signing up, you will receive weekly mails with offers and recommendations on what to order this week. After the products have arrived you can pick them up at the LBB (Biesenwal 3) one week after ordering. The products offered include a wide range of vegetables and fruit, soy and dairy products, drinks and even cleaning products. It’s a great way to support local sustainable businesses.

5. Foodsharing Maastricht

This grassroots initiative raises awareness of food waste and organizes unconditional food distribution. By cooperating with local businesses volunteers are allowed to pick up left-over food and take it to a fridge at Building X at Tapijn (Green office building) where you can pick up a reasonable amount of different foods for free.

6. Precious Plastic Maastricht

… is a global community with hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution. The project in Maastricht mostly consists of students working towards creating work-spaces where plastic collected in Maastricht is reused and turned into new and useful products. Together they organize workshops, show movies raising awareness and share local stores selling recycled products. Interested in getting involved? Check them out on Facebook.

7. Fossil Fuel Maastricht University

… is a grassroots initiative of a global fossil free movement. The aim is to campaign for the end of the fossil fuel era and for a fast, just transition towards a renewable energy economy. Additionally, the volunteers are encouraging Maastricht University to divest from the fossil fuel industry through marches, protests, petitions and raising awareness of alternatives.

Lastly, for all of you interested and open-minded about getting involved but unsure where to start: Sustainability Week is coming to Maastricht. This is an annual event from 29th April to 3rd May 2019 consisting of a week full of workshops, lectures, excursions, and many more events all based on the topic sustainability. Local organizations gather together to provide an atmosphere of dialogue. The week starts off with an information market about all kinds of sustainable initiatives in Maastricht (29th April, 1-4pm) called GreenfoMarket. Make sure to check it out if you want a complete overview of sustainable projects. Some of the organizations participating in Sustainability Week are Amnesty International, Library of Things, or the United Nations University-MERIT. For more detailed information check out their Facebook event.

Julia Hönnecke studies European Studies at Fasos, and writes for the MD.

Photo by Sylvie Tittel on Unsplash

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