National Geographic selected Budapest as one of the five most forward-thinking green cities based on a project launched by the city’s residents. This is the so-called Green Guide, which serves as the green compass of the city. We asked the members of the team how they see the Budapest of the present and what could make the Hungarian capital (even) greener and more sustainable.
The map was designed by Nosek Mimma, graphic designer and illustrator and the author of the idea and the Hungarian text of the map is Dávid Erdész, a technical-environmental engineer. Together they run their unique graphic and plant decoration business called RisoPlant. It was without question that the maps would be made with the enterprise’s environmentally friendly rhizographic procedure.
They were joined by Konkoly Niki, who was originally a stage designer and decorator, but is currently engaged in creative writing. She wrote the English version of the map and is responsible for brand communication.
Over the past year, the team expanded with four more members: Áron Eszik web development project coordinator, sustainability consultant Zsófi Tomaj, who participated as a diplomat in the development of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York, Dávid Levendel energy consultant and Domján Julcsi, a project manager for environmental and educational solutions, playing a major role in writing GGBP content.
The idea for the map came in 2018 based on the team’s personal travel preferences. While visiting new cities, they were always looking for local green areas, farmers’ markets and sustainable restaurants instead of crowded tourist destinations and they were particularly happy to find such a thematic map and recommendation. This prompted them to create one for Budapest as well. The team wanted a free guide that could help Budapest residents and visitors consume, relax, travel and shop in a more conscious and sustainable way.
In addition to introducing their favourite places to others, the team also wanted to inspire as many residents as possible to practice habits that they do so in everyday life. Their main goal is to inspire people to lead a more conscious lifestyle with positive examples rather than horror news and guilt and to show that such a life can be enjoyed even after certain sacrifices.
Making sustainable and green choices
They emphasised that the first edition is a subjective collection. The list was compiled from years of experience roaming the city, drinking coffees, eating and shopping. All the places on the map are wholeheartedly recommended because the team knows the quality of the service and the mission of the owners from personal experience.
Green values are important for all represented companies and service providers. The creators are currently working with their sustainability experts to develop a system of criteria that will allow them to evaluate other enterprises. This is so that they can avoid greenwashing and remain authentic and transparent.
Goals and Objectives
The creators want to make a revised second edition this summer, for which they are currently looking for sponsors. In the future, however, the paper-based map would be an exclusive, periodical special edition of the project. The map has been available online for some time now. The long-term goal is to develop a complex online interface that will allow for both territorial and content expansion, complemented by various community features. The core goals are inspiration, education and community building; in addition to building fun, informative content, they would also like to organise programs like a ‘Green Walking Tour’ for travellers in the city centre.
The map was also published in English in order to provide useful information to visitors. While most of their followers are Hungarian and so communication is currently in Hungarian. In the future (especially if tourism restarts), they would like to open towards expats and visitors in Budapest.
There is a noticeable positive, greener push both from residents and from urban development, but it is certain that there is still a long way to sustainability. They hope that the current pandemic situation will not reverse this change, but rather encourage people to consume even more consciously.
Ideas for Greener Budapest
The creators expressed that it is important to embrace grassroots initiatives from below, as well as aids and developments from above. The latter would prove particularly useful in the field of waste management, for example: it is no wonder that most hazardous waste ends up in the bin if it is not collected in an organized way and there are only a few disposal points, most of them out of town. The establishment of a controlled, organized system of community composting would have a huge positive effect, as would the possibility of industrial composting of degradable plastic packaging, since there is currently a lack of a processing phase for these otherwise super-alternatives.
The transition to renewable energy sources is also very important, as the number of electric cars in the city will increase in vain if we still get most of our electricity from natural gas.
The aim of the project is to provide a green compass for the people of Budapest when it comes to consumption, hobbies and mundane decisions. Their list of sustainable businesses can help to answer questions such as where to buy sourdough bread or where to dye your hair organically. In addition, their educational content can inspire readers to lead a greener lifestyle.
Yet their most important goal is to build a cohesive, mutually supportive community that wants to develop together. It is their firm belief that collaboration is the key for global, positive change.