Zero waste travel: Florence

It’s not secret that people love Florence. Full of art, history, and stunningly beautiful, Florence is a city that merits more than a weekend trip. It’s as beautiful as you could hope and the perfect city to enjoy a warm summer night watching the sunset.

I arrived in Florence on the 15th of august, or Ferragosto, which is a holiday, and also when many stores officially close until the end of August. Because of this, I would caution you to book your trip to Florence in August unless you love hot weather and don't want to go to any stores.

Despite its size, Florence seemed to have less zero waste resources than other smaller cities like Padova. That being said, it’s a lot more likely that people will be visiting Florence because it's so popular. So, whether you’re trekking around Europe with a 40 liter backpack or on a dream vacation, check out some of the following recommendations for reducing your waste while traveling in beautiful Florence:


Firenze card

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You heard it here first: Florence is expensive. The art you can see is incredible, but the prices are steep, and if you go in high season (summer) you can spend half the day waiting in lines. I also found they were sticklers about being an EU resident for getting discounts, so if you don’t have a visa or a passport, you might be out of luck.

There is a city card for Florence that you can check out here called Firenze card. It’s unclear what the card is made of (plastic or paper), but it appears to be plastic. Unless you plan on visiting a ton of museums in Florence, it’s much better to purchase paper tickets and recycle them than to pick up a plastic card.

TRAINS

As always, I’m going to recommend you try the Trenitalia app for your train tickets. Getting around Italy by train is very easy and you can easily get to and from Florence by train. You can purchase tickets and view train schedules from the app and then show the ticket on your phone. That is, if your ticket gets checked (it doesn’t always happen). I used my phone for all my trains to and from Florence.

BUS

Around Florence you may or may not want to use to public transit. While I completely recommend watching the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo, I can’t say the walk up the hill is a highlight. I bought bus tickets for this, but looking around at the bus service website, single-use tickets are your only option for using public transit in Florence as there don’t appear to be 24 hour or 48 hour tickets available.

Fontanelle

Fontanelle are public water fountains with acqua portabile, or drinkable water. They’re found throughout may Italian cities and often have a stand and a spigot, making them perfect for filling water bottles. They’re all around Florence on the map and I came across quite a few while walking through the city. In Florence in particular I would suggest you keep your eyes peeled because they almost blend into the city.  

 

Lush 

Fontanella in Florence

Fontanella in Florence

If you’ve read some of my other zero waste travel posts, you’ll notice Lush makes a frequent (but unenthusiastic) appearance. Well, this time around I actually made a purchase. Lush Italia appears to have an identical selection to Lush in the USA, so you’ll easily find your favorites. If, like me, you left your shampoo bar in a hostel shower where in melted away in a single day, it’s just a quick trip to pick up a new one. Luckily, the store is near both the duomo and Palazzo Vecchio so you won’t need a special trip. As always, try and convince them to give you the soap “tutto sfuso, senza borsa” or completely without packaging, without a bag; I managed to convince them, but even using Italian they were skeptical.

Negozio Leggero

Negozio Leggero was previously featured on my Zero Waste Travel: Milan post. I love this store! It is a small chain in Italy (and now France) with sixteens stores, and boasts over 1500 package-free products. Anyone without an actual bulk store knows the pain of not being able to tare your containers, but Negozio Leggero will tare for you.

With the exception of fresh produce or animal products, I think you could find anything you need specific to a zero waste lifestyle. Foods, cleaning products, soaps, face oils, wine, tooth brushes, and an array of other things can be found at Negozio Leggero. If you just want to pop in for a visit, they even sell cookies in bulk (yum).

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bottega del dono solidale

After about two months in Italy and having visited about five cities, I saw my first charity store in Italy. As luck would have it, it was closed because it was August, when many businesses close for a few weeks for Ferragosto. Due to this, I couldn’t go inside the store, but looking in the window I saw the familiar makings of a thrift store—an array of household objects, clothes, and general 'stuff'.

 

Officina Vintage

If you manage to tear yourself away from all of the things to see and do in Florence, or just like to shop, Officina Vintage seems to be a favorite for secondhand clothes. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have a website, but the general consensus seems to be a good selection and fair prices.

Ecopopup

After hearing about this online, I happened to stumble upon the storefront in Florence. While I didn’t make a purchase, you may find something that suits your needs. From the site {no translation needed}: In an EcoPopup you can find only Vegan, ecological. organic, ethical or fair-trade products.


Safe travels! If you’re interested in more ways to rock zero waste travel in Italy, check out the following posts: