A lot is changing in central Amsterdam. And Condomerie is very much part of that. Together we are transforming the oldest part of the city, including the Red Light District, into the Green Light District!
Condomerie is a member of the Sustainable Business Coalition – people in the business community who are trying to make a difference in their part of the world. The group has identified five challenges: energy, green spaces, logistics, purchasing and waste. We are working together towards sustainability, while inspiring other businesses and their customers to do the same.
The Condomerie has been fully carbon neutral since 2011, and hopes to inspire others to become sustainable businesses as its leads by example. So on this website you’ll find a long read about looking at everything from printer cartridges to toilet paper: Eco for SME, a Business Case’ (PDF) The Condomerie has campaigned, for example, for narrower condom foil packs requiring less packaging material, and approached ISO TC 157 about the production of eco-friendly condoms. Without compromising on quality, of course!
It is founder Theodoor van Boven’s goal: zero carbon emissions. The company also aims to motivate the business community and consumers by taking every opportunity to explain its sustainable choices. Theodoor has a tip for businesses who would like to become more sustainable: “Calculate your return on investment (ROI) with regard to energy savings and waste. The Envirometer website is a great way to do that.”
Theodoor’s sustainable dream for this area is to convince businesses by showing them how they can quickly and easily achieve considerable energy savings. “Just do it!” is his motto. Theodoor is looking forward to working in partnership with others nearby, and often quotes former mayor Eberhard van der Laan: “You go faster by yourself, but get further together.”
The Condomerie is situated in one of the oldest parts of Amsterdam, in a very special block of buildings: the Blaauwlakenblok (the name refers to the former textile trade in the area). Creating the largest possible green roof system on this block will mean fewer problems with surface water, extra green spaces and a climate-proof city centre. It is, of course, a long-term project.
Theodoor: “The benefits for building owners are energy saving and, probably, less maintenance costs.
The benefits for Amsterdam and the living environment are that the temperature in the city will go down, and rainwater can be collected and gradually drained. The neighbours benefit from a view of a green roof, and for residents it means a lower energy bill.
Nature benefits too, as butterflies, bees, birds, etc. will have a bigger habitat in the city.”
The Blaauwlakenblok is in one of the oldest parts of Amsterdam and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nothing much has changed in the spatial structure of this area since the 16th century.
In the 1970s, there were radical plans to pull down the Blaauwlakenblok as part of a town planning project which would include a huge car park or an office block. A very special partnership between long-standing residents, artists, squatters and nuns who lived in a convent nearby made sure that didn’t happen.
In 1979, town planner Gerard Nootenboom came up with an incredibly forward-thinking plan: to transform the ‘Blue Sheet Block’ into a ‘Green Sheet Block’. In the 1980s, 60% of the block was purchased by the Amsterdam local councillor Jan Schaeffer for urban renewal. In 1995, the local council partnered with the De Key housing corporation to improve the area. Their plan was to save and restore the buildings, while improving the living environment within the block and surrounding streets. The buildings would be managed by the corporation.
A large number of residential units with workspaces were made available to cultural entrepreneurs and artists. The layout of alleys and streets was restored to how it had looked in the Middle Ages. The Blaauwlakenbok is now a neighbourhood where new buildings are in keeping with the oldest buildings in Amsterdam. Its restoration has preserved a historic area of the city, bringing this part of the city centre back to life and preventing further urban decline.
Theodoor van Boven, a former squatter in the Blaauwlakenblok, has been at the heart of this renewal all along – the driving force for making Gerard Nootenboom’s dreams for the area come true. Besides living here, he also runs the Condomerie – and does so as sustainably as possible.
Click here for further explanation of our how we campaigned for eco-friendly condom production.