A green travel guide to Stockholm, Sweden’s capital city.
By Anna Timbrook from Expert World Travel
Introduction: Visiting Stockholm Sustainably
Sweden is the most sustainable country in Europe, and even tourists are expected to stick to certain sustainable practices during their time in the Nordic country. Whether you intend to stay in Stockholm the entire time you’re there, or you plan to visit Malmö, the Arctic Circle, and the Lapland, here are some tips on how to stay sustainable during your travels!
The key thing to remember about Swedish culture is no business talk during Fika (coffee break)! The Swedes take their Fika very seriously, and if you attempt to talk business during this sacred time, you could legitimately insult someone. Also, it’s rude to decline coffee or a Fika invitation in Sweden, so don’t do that if you don’t want to insult anyone.
In terms of language and the things you shouldn’t say while you’re in Stockholm, you should know that Swedes don’t take too kindly to sexist speech and jokes. Sweden ranks first on European Union’s GEI (Gender Equality Index), so it’s best to refer from making any jokes that might be even remotely sexist, even if they are funny.
In addition to that, it’s rude to assume that whoever you’re talking to knows English. Although 80% of Swedes are fluent in English, they might get offended if you just start talking to them in English, especially if you’re not super nice about it. At the very least, say Hej talar du engelska? (Hi, do you speak English?) to start off on the right foot with the Swedes you encounter in your travels.
Your sustainable travel in Stockholm begins when you start packing for the trip. Don’t forget to pack the following items, in order to minimize waste while you’re travelling through the Swedish capital!
If you’re going to be doing any shopping at all in Swedish supermarkets, bring your own grocery bags. They charge for plastic bags, which helps reduce the total amount of plastic waste in Sweden.
You can bring your own plastic bags, or even better, shopping totes that you can use whenever you’re shopping at the grocery store or a local supermarket.
Preparing your own food is much more sustainable than eating out for every meal, plus it will save you a lot of money. Pack a lunch box, a mason jar, and some reusable utensils, preferably metal or bamboo.
This goes hand in hand with shopping at the markets instead of eating out at restaurants, and it will make your travel through Stockholm much cheaper and more enjoyable.
Don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle, so you’ll never have to buy water in a plastic bottle while you’re in Sweden. The country has clean water that’s safe to drink from the tap, so you can always refill your bottle while you are at home.
This sustainable practice is not just great for the environment, but it can save you a lot of money during your travel through Stockholm.
Staying sustainable in Stockholm is easier than you might expect – sustainability isn’t just a word in the Swedish capital. It’s a way of life, and many sustainable practices are deeply ingrained in the Swedish culture.
Here’s what you can do to make your stay in Stockholm as sustainable as possible!
Sweden has quite a few Nordic Eco hotels, and there are loads of them in Stockholm. These are hotels that are already implementing various sustainable practices and technologies, so if you’re trying to be as sustainable as possible, it’s best to stay at one of these hotels.
The good news is that finding a sustainable hotel in Sweden is not a difficult task at all. Ever since 2020, eight out of ten hotels in Stockholm are certified as sustainable.
In practice, this means that the hotels purchase furniture and food only from companies with eco-friendly profiles, or they produce their own, as well as offer fair working conditions to all their employees.
When you’re not sure if a particular hotel or a tourist agency is sustainable, always refer to Nature’s Best Sweden. The organization offers a detailed list of all the best sustainable companies in Sweden, which includes accommodation options, tourist agencies, campsites, ships, and much more.
In Sweden, there’s something called the Freedom to Roam, which is basically the right to camp wherever you want on public property. So, if you decide to venture out of Stockholm and explore the breathtaking nature of this Nordic country, don’t forget your camping gear!
You can set up camp wherever you want in the great outdoors, as long as it’s not private property. Also, it goes without saying that your campsite should have no negative impact on the environment (e.g. don’t set up camp in a field of flowers) and that you should never leave any waste behind.
Stockholm has an excellent network of public transport, which can very much help you explore the city in a sustainable way. The city has countless bus lines, trams, metro lines, and ferries that allow you to sustainably travel wherever you want.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the buses and trains in Stockholm have used entirely renewable energy since 2017. Sweden aims to make public transport in its capital 100% sustainable, and it’s well underway in achieving it.
They’ve even started to implement electric passenger boats that travel between the main Stockholm harbor and its many little islands.
Cycling is very popular in Stockholm and you can ride a bike if you don’t want to rely on just public transport. The city is very bike-friendly, with countless bike lines throughout Stockholm. It’s even possible to travel between some of the city’s bigger islands by bike, which is very convenient.
Stockholm has several bike rental companies that make it super easy for tourists to rent bikes, making it nearly effortless for foreigners to stay sustainable in the Swedish capital.
Shopping for sustainable items is the first step towards minimizing waste and reducing your carbon footprint. The first step is always bringing a shopping bag with you to the supermarket, never purchasing plastic water bottles, and trying to buy only the items that are labeled as sustainable or 100% organic!
Avoid restaurants if possible and buy all your food at the local markets. By doing this, you’re not just saving hundreds of dollars on food, but you’re also doing your part to help the local farmers who make their living by selling produce and other goodies at the stalls.
Also, the local markets always offer fresh veggies, pastries, cheeses, and meat, so you’re guaranteed to be getting the best ingredients possible. Don’t forget to bring your shopping tote to the market, so you can avoid carrying all those delicious, fresh veggies in nasty plastic bags.
A bonus tip is to look into some meal prep ideas if you don’t already have your favorites. Overnight oats and mason jar salads require zero skill to prepare, they’re done in a few minutes, and they can be stored in the fridge for several days.
When shopping at supermarkets in Stockholm, be sure to look for foods that have the KRAV label. The KRAV label is used only on sustainable products, which are produced without artificial pesticides and chemicals, have a minimal climate impact, and are all produced in good working conditions.
Although it’s usually better to avoid supermarkets, the least you can do if you have to shop at one is try to buy only the foods that are guaranteed to be sustainably produced.
Not everyone is willing to give up meat and dairy entirely, and I’m not here to tell you that you should do that. But, if you want to truly be sustainable in Stockholm, try to have one vegan meal a day. It can be oatmeal with almond milk, a humongous salad, or a very delicious falafel wrap.
Just one plant-based meal a day can reduce your carbon footprint significantly and make your travels through Stockholm more sustainable. In case you can’t fathom not eating meat or dairy every single meal, just look for organic and KRAV-labeled products at the markets and in restaurants.
If you need to – or want to – purchase clothing or footwear while you are in Stockholm, it’s best to look for the most sustainable brands. Sweden has a lot of excellent brands that produce entirely sustainable items, so opt for those instead of mass-produced fast fashion.
Not only are you supporting these brands that are doing everything in their power to minimize their environmental impact, but you’re also buying garments of much higher quality and durability.
Sweden is one of the most sustainable countries in the world, which makes it very easy for tourists to stay sustainable while they’ll exploring it. Stockholm takes the lead in terms of sustainability, with a wide variety of sustainable hotels, electric trains and trams, and a plethora of sustainable items at their shops.
Staying sustainable in Stockholm is simple, as it should be. It’s nothing more than looking for certain labels and buying locally grown produce.
About the Author
Anna was born to travel the world, having studied languages all her life. Although she has traveled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.