Eco-friendly hotels, bike-rentals, vegan and raw restaurants or local design boutiques, all that and much more can found in a new guide to Prague, called the Green City Guide. Written by two young eco-conscious women, the guide offers sustainable alternatives to travellers visiting the Czech capital. When I met with the authors of Prague Green City Guide, Aneta Hebrová and Jennifer Day, I first asked them to introduce it in more detail:
Jennifer Day: “As you can see immediately it is a book about green Prague, so it offers alternatives for people who are eco-conscious, looking for sustainable alternatives that includes vegetarian restaurants eco-hostels and hotels, places where you can find unpackaged food and products for the zero waste crowd, as well as bike-sharing options.
“We really try to cover the basics, from the morning till the evening, where you can sleep and eat, explore, shop, and also get involved, because we want people to know about what is happening. So we also included NGOs that are raising awareness, and organising film festivals about these kinds of topics.”
Who is the guide intended for?
Aneta Hebrová: “For sure, the main target group are tourists but it can also serve expats living in Prague and the local community as well. So it is basically intended for everyone who is interested in this topic and who loves Prague.”
How long did it take you to put all the information together?
JD: “We have about 167 businesses and places listed. Two years ago, we launched our project Green Glasses, which is more of a platform for locals but we were researching the same topic, trying to find businesses that offer sustainable alternative.”
And Green Glasses is your online project…
“Yes, it is an online project based on a similar idea. A lot of what we learned through those two years, while doing in-depth interviews with businesses and people, went into the book. So although writing the book only took a few months, the research really took place for over two years.”
Where did you gather all the information? Did you draw on the feedback from local people?
JD: “We definitely did. We would meet a business and they would give us tips about other businesses they knew. We would speak to our friends, attend various events and we also got tips from other people involved in this topic, so it kind of grew really organically. We always had too many businesses, rather than too few. We had a big list and every week we tried to interview a few of them to fill in our on-line database.”
AH: “Some of the choices were obvious. We started by creating categories, such as food or cosmetics, but then we realized that it covers more topics, such as transport and so on. The obvious categories involve second hand shops, renting, sharing, anything where you avoid buying new things.
JD: “We included businesses which have a more positive than negative impact. We know that organic farming uses less water and pesticides than conventional farming so we support any organically grown food and organic fashion.
“Eating vegetarian is known to be one of the easiest ways to cut your environmental impact. So for us it was an obvious choice to list vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
“We believe in taking small steps, so people who are not yet full vegetarians, can start by reducing. We try not to be extremists but things like biking and second hand shops are fairly obvious steps to reduce your environmental impact.”
How did you actually get the idea to launch the green directory and eventually release the printed guide?
AH: “It was a personal challenge. Jenny was travelling a lot and she saw how nature was damaged, while my motivation was health. So we started with ourselves and we realised that we are not disconnected from the environment. We started firstly to change our routine, to cook differently, and buy less.
JD: “The big thing is feeling powerless, which is how we felt a few years ago: When you are having problems with your health and you watch the news and see all the terrible things happening with the environment and feel you can’t do anything, or feel that the change is happening too slowly.
“So that’s why we really wanted to start here, start locally, do what we can and share that with other people, because it takes a lot of time to research these things. Most people don’t have the time on side of their job to figure out where to find these kinds of alternatives. So we felt that this was an added value.”
Is this lifestyle available for everyone? What would you tell people who say such life-style is too time-consuming and expensive?
JD: “I definitely think it can be cheaper. If you embrace the quality over quantity mind-set, then it doesn’t have to be more expensive. It is not just about buying a product which says that it is green. It is also about reducing consumption.
“There are a lot of other things that can save your money. If you need something, for instance a drill to install something in your house, you can consider whether borrowing it or sharing with friends could be an option. And then you find out that thanks to this sharing mentality you are saving money. At the same time, you are building community and getting to know your neighbours.
“So it is definitely a stereotype about this lifestyle and some of the shops are on the expensive end. But you don’t go there and buy ten things at a time. You buy something of a really high quality that you’ll then take care of and keep for a long time.”
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