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Sustainable Luxembourg

Sustainable Luxembourg

by Sarita RAO 13 min. 25.04.2022
From zero waste to second-hand clothes, Luxembourg’s first eco village, and electric car subsidies. Here are several initiatives in the Grand Duchy designed to improve sustainability
Eliminating food waste, checking your food footprint, second-hand clothes, electric car subsidies, and organic local producers - Luxembourg has quite a few sustainable initiatives
Eliminating food waste, checking your food footprint, second-hand clothes, electric car subsidies, and organic local producers - Luxembourg has quite a few sustainable initiatives
Photo credit: Anouk Antony

Much of Luxembourg’s populous has embraced the need to be more sustainable and accountable for its impact on the climate and environment, and trading fairly with those living in poverty in other parts of the world. 

There are several initiatives in Luxembourg, from redistributing food waste and promoting a sustainable diet, to pimping second-hand clothes and furniture, agro-ecology, package-free organic stores, electric car and bike subsidies, and Luxembourg’s first eco-village.

If we’ve missed an important initiative, organisation or event on sustainability that you are involved in, please let us know.

Eliminating food waste

A non-profit organisation of volunteers, Foodsharing Luxembourg fights against food waste, which in this country amounts to about 118 kilos of food per person each year. They point out that this food is not just the product itself, but time spent working on it and transporting it.

Part of Foodsharing’s aim is to educate people on the best-before date often found on processed food such as biscuits. If stored at the right temperature the product’s quality is fine before this date, but even after the date, a consumer can decide to eat it. The expiry date tends to be found on highly perishable food such as meat. After this date, food may be dangerous to health and should not be consumed.

Foodsharing fridges encourage less food waste
Foodsharing fridges encourage less food waste
Photo: Gerry Huberty

Food donated to the Asbl is distributed via foodsharing points at 52 rue Louis Pasteur in Esch-sur-Alzette, at 7 rue August Charles in Bonnevoie,  and at rue de la Bergerie in Lintgen. Each point has a fridge or shelf containing food (and if you have something you won’t be able to eat before its expiry or best-before date you are invited to drop it off at one of the points). Products containing raw egg or alcohol are not allowed, and fridges are kept clean by volunteers.

Foodsharing co-operates with 71 stores, and distributes food at certain times and days of the week in Junglinster, Dalhem/Garnich, Dudelange and Beaufort. Anyone can come and take food, although they do ask you to bear in mind how many others are waiting, and bring your own bags.  To date more than 168,000kg of rescued food has been redistributed.

You can find a map listing the distribution points and fridges or shelves here.

Supermarkets, food producers and caterers redistribute food on a  voluntary basis to Cent Butteker, the Spëndchen, Stëmm vun der Strooss or to biogas plants or Parc Merveilleux to feed the animals.

In addition to buying locally and seasonally, Anti-Gaspi encourages people to shop smart, understand use-by dates, keep fridges tidy and at constant temperatures, and use leftovers creatively. Their website has useful tips on storing and preserving, plus creative leftover recipes.

Initiatives supported by Anti-Gaspi include Foodsharing Luxembourg but also:

  • the Yellow Ribbon fruit picking project,
  • redistributing to social restaurants and shops run by Stëmm.
  • Selling “imperfect” foods at on-perfekt, which gives life to food that doesn’t meet the standards or has gone past its sell-buy date.
  • The Food4All app which links consumers and distributors to help sell food near to its best-before date.
  • An anti-waste fridge in Tuntange, set up by the Hollenfels youth hostel to offer their surplus cooked dishes to be consumed for the price of €3 (dishes are cooked using locally sourced products and menus are posted on the fridge). Anyone can buy dishes from the fridge.
  • The Ecobox, alternative doggy bag, accepted in 138 restaurants, 68 school canteens and 64 work canteens, with more than 75,000 distributed already.  
Benu village in Esch promotes a socio-ecological circular economy
Benu village in Esch promotes a socio-ecological circular economy
Photo: Chris Karaba

Benu village in Esch-sur-Alzette, is the first eco-village in Luxembourg and was founded in 2015. It promotes a socio-ecological circular economy, and professionals can rent work spaces so long as they meet the local charter values of transparency, social responsibility, local production and ecological excellence. Plans include a clothing upscaling company, and a sales platform for the social upcycling of art. An anti-waste restaurant will use rescued food.

Sustainable eating initiatives

The Luxembourg food footprint calculator (part of Let’s Change the Menu) is a joint venture between the Ministry of Foreign and European affairs and SOS Faim. You can take a questionnaire to find your food footprint and see it against the average in Luxembourg.

It highlights how every resource you consume must be naturally regenerated over a time period, so you can see how fast you might be depleting the world’s resources. Generally, the more meat and dairy you consume, the higher your footprint, although packaging and transport costs are also taken into consideration. 

Like Foodsharing, the calculator also underlines that almost a third of food produced is wasted, and whilst many people involved in food production go hungry, in other countries we suffer from obesity. It also promotes fair trade.

The website advises people to eat seasonally and as local as possible and has an interactive map of all the local responsible growers and suppliers (including beekeepers and wine producers). You will also find bio, organic and sustainably produced fruit, vegetables and food products at Luxembourg’s many local markets. You can find a list of them here.

You can watch a series of videos made by Let’s Change the Menu from local producers including 

  • Escher Gemeisguart (which grows organic vegetables for community use)
  • Bakhaus (makes organic natural sourdough bread from Luxembourgish organic flours)
  • Ouni (Luxembourg’s first package-free organic grocery)
  • Frëschkëscht (delivering fresh boxes containing local Luxembourgish, seasonal and organic products) 
  • René Mathieu (award-winning chef using local products and meat-free dishes)
  • Fru by Georges Schiltz (producing organic wines and apple wine, respecting the orchard biotope)
  • Kuerbuttek (sustainable, seasonal fruits and veg, organically farmed, plus refined oils, candles and soaps)
  • Tea and other products/handicrafts from the Haut Sûre National Park, and wool and sheep products from Bergerie an Dottesch.

The government and Restopolis initiative “Food4Future was launched recently with the idea to reduce the impact of the environment in school canteens. Food will be sourced from local, organic producers, with about half from Luxembourgish producers. A meal reservation system will cut down on food waste. Vegan meals are also being trialled at three schools on Mondays, and offered together with vegetarian, meat and fish dishes on other days.

Luxembourg City recently launched its Cup2Go initiative to reduce the number of single-use cups used for coffee, tea and other beverages. You can locate which coffee shops allow you to use the cup, and customers will get a discount or a stamp in their loyalty card for using the cup. You simply bring your own reusable cup with you. 

Resilient, regenerative agriculture

Meng Landwirtschaft believes that up to 20% of agricultural land in Luxembourg could be used for organic farming by 2025. The platform is supported by 22 organisations including natur & ëmwelt, Greenpeace Luxembourg, SOS Faim, Fairtrade Luxembourg, Ligue, Slow Food Luxembourg and the Vegan Society.

Resilient and regenerative agriculture is at the heart of Terra, which is a community supported agro-ecological centre that was founded in 2014. It uses permaculture to grow natural, regenerative and GMO free food. You can join them to become a co-operator or volunteer, and they have activity and educational programmes.  

Luxembourg has more than 350 species of wild bees, and several other pollinators, which is good since 87% of wild flowering plants rely on animal pollination. You can find out more about them and what you can do in terms of leaving parts of your garden “wild” for the bees, in this Nature & ëmwelt brochure

Package free, local, organic and sustainable
Package free, local, organic and sustainable
Photo: Anouk Antony

You’ll find bio and organic shelves at most supermarkets but it’s worth checking if the brands are also locally sourced. Naturata is the retail outlet for the cooperative Bio-Bauere-Genossenschaft Lëtzebuerg (founded in 1988 by organic farmers in Luxembourg). In addition to organic foodstuff, each store has a natural cosmetics section. There are 11 organic supermarkets, plus bistros, a butcher, and a deli. 

Second-hand clothes, furniture and upcycling

In Luxembourg, 98% of people think re-use is good, and 63%  have bought second-hand clothes. Furniture and household appliances are less likely to be purchased, in part due to a lack of guarantee, whilst used books – either via exchanges, "bicherschaf", or market stalls are popular.

There are a plethora of second-hand clothing stores in Luxembourg – you can find a full list here, and there are also regular vintage clothes markets where you can buy by the kilo. And for clothes washing, the recently launched Luxembourg sustainability start-up SaltyLama has eco-strips laundry detergent made from natural ingredients encased in a compostable fibre. 

Rethink your Clothes a joint initiative from the government, Caritas and Fairtrade Luxembourg, invites you to rethink your wardrobe, what and where you buy, recycling and upcycling and fair prices for manufacture. Part of this, Letz Refashion, looks at ways to rethink and redesign your clothes, and has numerous workshops on areas such as embroidery or using jewels to creating a kimono. You can find more information and tips on their Facebook page.  

A number of places sell second-hand home furnishings, including Oddhaus Vintage and Rob Vintage which both have vintage furniture and décor, whilst Okkasiounsbuttik has second-hand furniture and is located in Belval. Vintage Mood by the Red Cross sells second-hand furniture, crockery and lighting at their shop in Livange. The Troc depot, just off the motorway in Esch-sur-Alzette has a variety of second-hand furniture, beds, sofas, mirrors and even some new items such as mattresses, from end of line stocks. 

Nei Aarbecht offers work, meals and accommodation to the long-term unemployed, who collect furniture and other household items to sell in their shop in Helmsange. You can also try the following social media groups: sell, give, exchange, 2nd hand or free your stuff Luxembourg

The Benu re-use platform (part of the Benu Village project) allows you to donate or search for second-hand items including kitchens, electrical appliances, furniture, multi-media and construction supplies.

You can take unwanted toys in reasonable condition or browse the shelves at Taba in Walferdange to pick up a bargain for your family. It is also part of CNDS and offers work to the long-term unemployed. 

There is an upcycling trend, with crafts artisans in Luxembourg offering lamps, jewellery, necklaces and keychains – all upcycled. The lamps use empty Crémant and gin bottles, whilst the skateboard necklaces come in a variety of colours. Many of these craftspeople use the new pop-up shops available in the city, but you can also order online.

Electric cars, e-bikes and cycles 

More than 2,500 people have applied for a subsidy from the government for an electric car since 2019. The government provides financial aid or a subsidy of up to €8,000 for 100% electric cars and vans in the mid-size or family seven-seater, dropping to €3,000 for less efficient cars that exceed electricity consumption of 180Wh per kilometre. Hybrid cars no  longer receive a subsidy. 

You can get a subsidy of up to €600 on a e-motorbike or moped, and pedal assisted cycles or ordinary bicycles, no more than 50% of the purchase price.

All subsidies are given for vehicles or bikes purchased up to end March 2024. 

More information

The Green Community Luxembourg has a Facebook page encouraging people to reuse, recycle and reduce. It’s a great place to find local initiatives such as the Vegan Christmas Market or the small farm honour-stands that sell fruit and vegetables, flowers or offer pick your own. It also lists climate projects, protests and action groups, and has self-help tips such as making your own deodorant.

Luxembourg City has several commitments and projects for sustainability, including the climate alliance, Fairtrade certificate, GMO and pesticide free city, and in its waste management. You can find out more here.

There are more initiatives and discussions in the spotlight on the website Inspiring More Sustainability Luxembourg, and a new magazine, Neighbour, covers sustainable living,  community-supported agriculture, the circular economy and regenerative practices. 

Upcoming events 

Nature & ëmwelt is hosting nature days at LuxExpo and various outdoor locations on 26 and 27 April with plenty to learn, speakers and activities. You can find out more here

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