Previously, the Ewha Voice published two special overseas coverage on the topic of environmental sustainability in the Netherlands. For this issue, as the third and last part of the overseas coverage special, the Ewha Voice will divert from these academic activities and focus more on the eco-friendly aspects in everyday life.
Giethoorn, picturesque eco-village basking in nature
Cozy, fairytale-like houses with grassy roofs. Clear water gently flowing along, sparkling in the sunlight. Warm, soft breeze gliding by, accompanied with the occasional flutters and tweets of birds. In the province of Overijssel in the east of the Netherlands, one can find oneself in a peaceful, picturesque village of Giethoorn.
The village was constructed to become a waterway town during the 13th century, which only allows boats to pass through the small town – hence making Giethoorn a village with no cars. Acknowledging this uniqueness, the villagers and the local government strive to maintain the old traditional form of Giethoorn, holding up its legacy.
“You cannot build a new house by yourself here, so you need the approval of the local government,” explained Foppe Huitema, one of the villagers. “Giethoorn is part of a big landscape, and we try to keep that possible in the old status, the old form.”
As the village itself is very harmonious with nature, the local people live in sync with nature. For example, the houses in Giethoorn have thatched roofs. Thatched roofs are roofs that are made out of dry vegetation, and in the case of Giethoorn, the villagers use peats. These roofs are quite friendly for the environment as they use natural products. They also serve an advantageous function of keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
In addition, the people in Giethoorn use eco-friendly whisper boats. The whisper boats are battery-powered through electricity, which is more sustainable compared to using boats that require gasoline or benzene.
“My favorite thing about living here is the nature,” exclaimed Emy de Jonge, a local villager living in Giethoorn. “There are lots of plants, butterflies, beautiful birds, and it is quiet. During the summer you can take a boat, and during the winter when there is ice, people go ice skating. It’s a privilege to live here.”
In order to take in and feel the nature-friendly atmosphere of Giethoorn, many tourists visit the renowned village. However, because the village and its people are quite sensitive and attentive toward the environment, some people warn for tourists to treat nature with care.
“Some tourists don’t know or understand what a great gift the nature is,” advised Edwin Spang, a bartender for a shop in Giethoorn. “You are in Giethoorn, Giethoorn is famous, it is very nice and beautiful. But be careful with the nature.”