Athens is a city of rich history, full of ruins and ancient artefacts. I reached Athens in mid August, expecting a bustling tourist hotspot. However it was more like a ghost town. Most of the locals leave Athens for the month of August and go abroad or to the local islands. There were still tourists floating around but people usually spend a night or two in Athens on the way to their next destination. I decided to spend 7 nights, which was a massive chunk of time. Unfortunately as many of the businesses I wanted to chat with were on holidays, I didn’t have many meetings but I still had a great time exploring the alleyways.
I was shocked at the level of poverty in the city centre and homelessness is very prevalent. There are some anarchist quarters of Athens that are a bit dodgy and have lots of signs saying ‘f**k tourists and Airbnb’ which was a nice welcome sign..! It shows the underlying tensions of their recovering economy and tourism.

Sustainable Food

Greek food is just such a delight! Typical restaurants will usually have one or two vegetarians options on the menu and I saw quite a few with ‘vegan and vegetarian options’ written on their signs. However, I did find some absolute vegan gems.

Peas Vegan and Raw Food

The food here was an absolute highlight of my vegan adventures in Athens. They had the creamiest vegan feta I have ever tasted and the team were super friendly and always happy to chat! The best part of their cafe was their ‘skip the plastic straw’ sticker and they only use reusable straws if you ask. So great to see local restaurants getting on board by banning the plastic straws.

Veganaki

I LOVE moussaka but it usually has meat in it. But at Veganaki, I had the most delicious moussaka and it was less that 8 euros. It was so filling I didn’t even need dinner. Highly recommend!

Vegan Beat

This is a centrally located near Monastiraki Square in a quiet courtyard area. Their food is more street style with gyros and wraps. Enjoyed my wrap but was hoping for a fresh salad instead of some cabbage and nachos! They are a bunch of passionate vegans and had a few activist stickers and posters around. They also had spaghetti straws instead of plastic but I didn’t get a chance to use them.

Sustainable Living

Open Air Cinemas

Think about it. In the summer months the evenings are usually balmy and delightful. So why waste all that air conditioning when you could enjoy a fresh night at the open air cinema. There are a bunch of open air cinemas across Athens. I went to one in Attica called Ria Cinema, which is on the coast of Athens area. Although I didn’t love the movie I saw, it was a great environment with a great range of young and old, tourists and locals all eating popcorn and enjoying a beverage or two!

Athens Airport

As I walked through the airport I saw this renewables counter. The airport is transitioning to clean energy which is a great sign!
One of the challenges of Greece is that getting around often requires air travel. I try to avoid at all costs and decided not to take some flights to the islands to reduce my carbon footprint but it is a challenge. I had to fly in and out of Athens, but it is great to see the airport’s commitment to clean energy.

Sustainable Business

Ithaca Laundry

This is technically a charity, however they run their shop like a business! I spent an afternoon with the team at Ithaca Laundry and saw first hand the amazing impact they are having by offering a regular laundry service to people in need. It helps them with hygiene as well as confidence to go out there and find a job. They also

Since they started in the Athens region in 2015, they have over 2500 beneficiaries and have completed 11000 washes (70 tonnes of clothing). Now that is a lot of laundry and a lot of impact!

Read the full article here.

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Question: when was the last time you did a load of washing? So many people in Athens don’t have access to a washing machine on a regular basis which is not good for their hygiene or confidence. Last week I caught up with the crew from @ithacalaundry who are doing amazing work on the streets of Athens! They provide a friendly laundry service to people in need 6 days a week over 5 sites in Athens. Since they started in 2015, they have helped over 2500 people and done 11000 washes! Now that’s a lot of washing!!! I chatted to a few people waiting in line for their clothes and they were SO grateful! One guy said that it’s his favourite time of the week because he can spend time with his new friends and get fresh clothes! They also employ people from socially vulnerable backgrounds to help them reintegrate into the workforce. I 💚💚💚 seeing amazing social impact on the streets. P.S. This was actually modelled on the Australian legends at Orange Sky laundry. So there is a lovely 🇬🇷 🇦🇺 link. Full article of the experience is up on planetb.com.au. Link in bio! Double tap for social impact! #socialgood #socialchange #ithaca #athens #greece #planetbinsights #travel #travelblogger #cleanclothes #laundry #laundryday

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Plastikourgeio

I was so excited to check out this recycled plastic shop and lab, however it was closed for the month of August! They have a shop with sustainable products for the home, camping and lifestyle. Attached to the shop is their Plastic Lab.
According to their website:

“In our Lab we have built machines to help us recycle plastic and explore our creativity. The first stage of the process is to look for raw material: We place bins and we collect single use plastic from offices, shops and houses in our neighbourhood, and we transport it to our space. Here, discarded water bottles and plastic coffee cups are transformed into artistic creations. As craftsmen skilled in “plastikurgy”, we work our plastic, we refine waste material and by giving it an entirely different colour, shape and form, we create a new object with a longer life. Our goal is multiple: We want to reduce, reuse and recycle, and this to become our habit; to instill this habit to those around us; to protect the environment, to alleviate the Municipality’s blue recycling bins, and to suggest an alternative waste management system. At the same time, we wish to satisfy our artistic sensibilities and the need to create something with our own hands.”

Next time I am in Athens I will definitely try to check it out.

Closed for the summer!

Street Art Tour

This was an absolute highlight and would recommend to both locals and tourists. It is a free walking tour (tip based) run by a local who lives and works in the region. He is an artist himself and was a curator and exhibitor of his art.
It was such an honour to be shown around the local area by him and hear the changes that have happened over the years in the local area. The tour goes through the streets around Exarchia Square which is the anarchist quarters of the city. Many of the people there rebel against the police and government as well as tourists and Airbnbs. The streets are lined with street art telling stories of the local area. One of my favourite stories was how the locals commandeered an abandoned carpark that was going to be sold to developers. They asked the local council to allow them to make it into a park. It is the only park in the neighbourhood and the locals planted trees and grew it into a community space.
There is a sign that has a saying in Catalan that translates to ‘You tried to bury me but you forgot I am a seed.’ It has such urban beauty and it was amazing to have the opportunity to step into the area and see it from a local’s perspective.

Overall

Athens was enjoyable but probably only needed 3 nights here to see everything. Would highly recommend the street art tour to see a different side of Athens. The homelessness and social challenges are far more overt and prevalent than I was expecting and it is great to see some charities stepping in to ensure socially vulnerable people, including refugees and migrants are being looked after.

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2 comments

  1. It’s so great to see that there are quite a few sustainable options in Athens. I have never been to Greece but I will definitely use your guide if I would ever travel there 🙂

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the read! Yes there are some great vegan options around and the city is becoming more conscious of plastic waste. Exciting times! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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