Let’s be real, today’s world has sadly come to the point where consumerism is getting a bit out of hand, which leads us to huge environmental problems that will eventually affect all of us. Luckily, there’s always something we can do about it, even if it’s little changes in our routine. If you’d be willing to make your stay in Vilnius more sustainable and minimize your carbon footprint while travelling in Lithuania, check what’s here in our capital city that could help you!
1. Getting Around - Bikes and Electric Scooters
2. Getting around - Electric Car Sharing and Public Transport
3. Eating Out
4. Shopping Zero Waste
5. Deposit Refund Scheme
6. Refilling Your Water Bottle
7. Discounts at Cafés
The most sustainable way of getting around Vilnius is of course by foot. The center part of the city is easily walkable and it’s best to explore it on foot, otherwise you might miss some Vilnius landmarks. Check this website out and find the best routes for discovering Vilnius on foot.
Though if you’re looking for alternatives to walking, you should definitely consider renting a bike or an electric scooter. Vilnius has a big orange bike renting system for which you’d only need an app (download from: App Store, Google Play). On the app select the plan that suits your needs, find bikes closest to you, follow the further instructions on the app and hop on! Your first 30 minutes will be free of charge. Click here for instructions. You can also use CityBee app (download from: App Store, Google Play) for a similar bike renting system. Apart from this, it’s also easy to find bike rental stores around Vilnius.
If you’d prefer an electric scooter over a bike, you can also use CityBee for that (download from: App Store, Google Play) or you can choose another one - Bolt app (download from: App Store, Google Play). You’ll need to sign up, pick a scooter close to you, scan it’s QR code and then you’re free to go exploring! Find out more about electric scooters of CityBee or of Bolt. You can also always rent a scooter from rental shops in Vilnius.
Our tour guides on electric scooters
If your Vilnius sightseeing route includes longer distances, you may need to consider using public transport. Fortunately, Vilnius has an eco-friendly alternative to regular buses - trolleybuses that use electricity for power. Apart from that, Vilnius public transport has also recently introduced electric buses that operate around Vilnius Old Town (bus route No 89, going from Vilnius train and bus station to Vilnius business district Šnipiškės). Also, we’re quite proud of the fact that there are many new buses in the city and by the end of September most of Vilnius buses’ emissions will be 100 times lower compared to the old ones! Find out how Vilnius public transport works here.
When it comes to electric car sharing, you are going to need an app to access it. The earlier mentioned CityBee (download from: App Store, Google Play) does have hybrid cars, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll find one nearby. For more eco-friendly car sharing we’d suggest using Spark (download from: App Store, Google Play). It’s cheaper and you can also use A lanes in the city to avoid traffic jams.
As the meat industry tends to pollute the Earth quite a lot, many environmentally-conscious people either choose to have ecologically-raised meat or turn to vegetarianism or veganism. For those who just can’t do without meat, we’d suggest trying out D’eco Bar & Restaurant, which serves organically sourced meals (just keep in mind that it’s a place for fine dining, so the prices are quite high). If your diet is more plant-based, check this blog post on the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Vilnius.
If you’d like to make your shopping here in Vilnius more environmentally-friendly, you can find all the zero waste stores in Lithuania here. It’s not only a list of all the stores or markets, but also a map, so you can check which spots are closest to you. In addition, there’s a great store called “Locals” which sells everything Lithuanian - from sweatshirts to solid shampoos, so check it out if you’re looking to buy something truly Lithuanian and sustainable - they have stores in Ogmios City, Europa mall, Panorama mall and G9 mall. And finally, if you’re having trouble choosing the right place for sustainable food shopping, check out our blog post on the best food markets in Vilnius.
Since 2016, when Lithuania introduced a deposit refund scheme for plastic or glass bottles and cans, we’ve been doing so well that even The Economist posted an article on it. The scheme works like this: when purchasing beverage packaging with a special symbol, a 0,10€ deposit fee is charged. After returning your used bottles or cans by putting them into special machines installed in supermarkets, the 0,10€ is paid back to you after scanning the receipt at the cash register. The returned bottles and cans go directly to recycling centres. More information here.
Even though we’re more than happy with the results of our deposit refund scheme, it is definitely more environmentally-friendly to keep refilling your own reusable water bottle than buying single-use ones while travelling. Luckily, refilling is very doable here! Vilnius Old Town is dotted with drinking water fountains, some of which are even suited for pets! (Type drinking water stop or drinking water fountain to Google maps if you can’t find one.) There are also three more in Vilnius airport departures area: two in Schengen zone and one in non Schengen zone. So if you’re leaving Lithuania by plane, you don’t need to buy overpriced water after security check - just refill your bottle for free!
Many cafés, coffee shops and gas stations offer discounts from 5% to 15% for those who bring their own reusable cups. The bigger coffee shop chains such as Vero Cafe, Caif Cafe or gas stations Circle K, Viada and others surely give discounts for green consumers. We can’t guarantee a discount from other smaller businesses, but at the end of the day the primary aim of zero waste movement is to pollute less. Just don’t forget to take your travel mug when coming to Vilnius!
As you can see, it’s not too hard to make your stay in Vilnius sustainable, even if it’s baby steps towards a brighter future. If we all contribute at least a little bit, we will eventually make our planet Earth greener. As Mahatma Gandhi said, be the change you wish to see in the world.