On the next 27th of April, our long-waited King’s Day will be celebrated, when the streets, the parks and the canals will be swarmed by people, and the cities will be painted with a coat of exuberant orange. This Dutch national festivity is a tradition as simple as celebrating the House of Oranje, and in current times it is held on the present King’s Willem Alexander birthday.
It is for some the occasion of the year where you can treat your ears to all kinds of music throughout the city and breathe the electrifying happiness exuded by everyone celebrating. For others who might prefer peace away from the vast crowds in the city centres, King’s Day is also a great time to enjoy the company of family and friends and, above all, relax.
However, there is a dark side to this beautiful celebration year after year that few people are aware of. The absurd amount of waste generated. For this same reason, we have decided to give you a few ways to celebrate an eco-friendly King’s Day. Because, after all, there is no reason to celebrate at the expense of the environment; we owe that much to Mother Nature during Earth Month, don’t you agree?
One wonderful way to become more eco-friendly is to be part of a circular economy where the life cycle of products is extended through sharing, reusing, repairing and recycling with the sole purpose of reducing waste. During King’s Day, you can also be part of this thanks to the Free markets (Vrijmarkt). Traditionally a nation of sailors and merchants, the Dutch honour their roots by celebrating their most important national holiday with their small fleamarkets, where a myriad of objects from the households are sold and bought. You can take advantage of this charming heritage and use the opportunity to enrich or depurate your wardrobe without contributing to fast fashion. Or maybe to go hunting for household things that you may need.
And speaking about historical traditions, another indispensable part of celebrating an eco-friendly King’s Day is wearing something orange after the House of Oranje. This is another great chance to hop on the circular economy train. Instead of buying new clothes that might end up forgotten in your wardrobe, you can go thrift shopping the days prior to King’s Day for that piece of orange clothing that will make everyone break their necks trying to get a glimpse of that fabulous outfit.
Some people forgo the orange etiquette and give some spiciness to their attire by adding some orange accessories like glasses and Hawaiian necklaces. This will give you some flavour to your outfit. But, unfortunately, most of them are made of plastic and will contribute to more than 200,000 kgs of waste created in Amsterdam. We encourage you, instead, to use this time to make art and crafts with your kids or friends and make something of your own creation.
Adding to the ensemble theme, you can put the final touch using colour paint, makeup or orange hairspray. Once again, we need to be conscious of our environmental impact and, for example, use harmless hair sprays without ammonia and parabens. Or, in the case of makeup, use our reusable makeup remover pads at the end of your day. Made from a blend of cotton and bamboo fibres, these soft and naturally antibacterial pads will provide a clean face and, more importantly, a clean conscience before bed.
No matter how you celebrate King’s Day, there is always a way to make the experience more eco-friendly. You might spend the day at the park or with your kids in the free markets. We recommend you let go of the cling film to wrap your sandwiches and use beeswax instead. Or you might just wander around the city, drinking and enjoying the countless outdoor festivals set throughout the city. As of April, together with bottles, cans can be returned at the supermarket for a small amount of money in return. We encourage you to carry a bag with you where you can put all the waste and recycle it the next day. But above all, try to avoid littering as some of it will end up in the canals and consequently pollute the ocean.
If you want to avoid large crowds, King's Day is a great time for other activities. Going tree planting is probably the most eco-friendly and fun to be done with friends and family. Do you still have some gardening plans? This could be the day! It is also a great time to visit museums open on King's Day, such as the Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. Since everyone will be out on the streets, museums are expected to be quite empty.
At the end of the day, being environmentally conscious is more of a mindset and way of life that affects every aspect of your life, rather than something that you can do from time to time. So, regardless of your final plan for King’s Day, try to be aware of your environmental influence and act accordingly. Just remember that having fun, spending time with family and friends, and being in harmony with nature all go hand in hand. There is no reason to elevate one over the other.