14 forward-thinking things Dutch people do

They are living in 2045 🔮

Throughout history, the Dutch have encouraged innovation, development, and creativity in many arenas.

In fact, the Netherlands is world-renowned for being progressive! So, naturally, I’ve compiled a list of the most forward-thinking things Dutchies do. 😉 

1. Ban single-use plastics

This is a big one! As of July 2021, The Netherlands banned the production, import, and sale of almost all single-use plastics in line with the EU’s Single-Use Plastics (SUP) guidelines. 

From cutlery and Q-tips to balloons, these items were all outlawed (although stores are allowed to sell their current stocks). Want to know what makes things even better?

There’s also a 90% collection target in sight for plastic bottles to be tackled next by 2029! ♻

2. Power transport hubs with the sun

The Netherlands may not see a lot of sunny days — even in the summer — but the Dutch sure are fans of solar-powering their methods of transportation!

READ MORE | Lightyear One: Dutch solar-powered car can drive 710km on a single charge

Tilburg built a super slick solar-powered bus station while Delft Zuid and ProRail are building the Netherlands’ first fully solar-powered train station. ☀

Photo-of-car-charging-station-Netherlands
Yep, you read that right. Dutch innovation, baby. Image: Depositphotos

3. Rehabilitate criminals rather than imprisoning them

Ter beschikking stelling (TBS) which translates into “detention under hospital orders,” is a system that ensures criminals in the Netherlands are rehabilitated in order to reintegrate into society instead of being locked up for their entire sentence. 

READ MORE | How the Dutch deal with mentally-ill criminals: the TBS system

The Dutch prison system aims at resolving criminals’ psychiatric problems as part of the sentence, rather than focusing on punishment methods only.

The result? Far more forward-looking verdicts overall. 👩‍⚖️

4. Lead the way for same-sex marriage

In the spirit of Dutch tolerance, let’s not forget that the biggest gesture of all! That’s when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage on April 1, 2001.

This step has led to Amsterdam having the biggest share of same-sex marriages, with 45 in every 1,000 married couples being gay. 🌈

Pride-flag-being-flown-during-a-pride-parade-in-amsterdam-the-netherlands
Amsterdam Pride is the event of the year. Image: Depositphotos

5. Offer an at-home nurse to new mothers

Kraamzorg is a postnatal benefit for mothers in the Netherlands, where a nurse will be available to new mothers for up to a week after their baby’s arrival.

READ MORE | Everything you need to know about maternity leave in the Netherlands in 2022

The nurse will offer help with baby-related tasks. This is a forward-thinking move on the Dutchies’ side to support new mothers and help them get back on their feet as soon as possible. 🍼

6. Tell people exactly what they think

Yup, it’s that infamous Dutch directness, where you can be asked, “Does that upset you?” on a whim if it seems like you’re unhappy.

The Dutch are mad efficient, so they don’t waste time beating around the bush.

Instead, they’ll tell you exactly what they’re thinking, no matter how rude or abrasive it might be. 📢

7. Recognise how important bees are

Whether the Dutchies do this for the environmental impact or just to ultimately train the bees to sniff diseases, with their futuristic vision, the Dutch understood the bee’s crucial role in pollination and food supplies long before it was cool.

Photo-of-bee-on-lavender-plant
We’re sure you can smell this picture of Dutch lavender too, thanks to bees. Image: Unsplash

From building bee-friendly bus stops to upkeeping a bee census, Dutchies sure is buzzing with nothing but love for the little things. 🐝

8. Give people the right to die

The Netherlands pioneered being the first country to legalize euthanasia back in 2002.

Ever since, people with a terminal or imminently life-ending illness have the right to be able to die with dignity.

READ MORE | 8 weird things about dying in the Netherlands

Naturally, this is heavily regulated: patients will have to discuss their decision with their physician and the physician will have to follow a list of protocols before they honour the patient’s wish. 👨‍⚕️👩‍⚕️

9. Flip old buildings into new spaces

Dutchies are masters of DIY — their bigger projects involve giving old buildings a makeover into a modern shape!

In Utrecht, a 1924 post office was reconstructed into a modern library, and similarly, a thirteenth-century Maastricht cathedral was turned into a magical bookstore. 📚

Photo-of-dominicanen-Church-bookstore-Maastricht-Netherlands
This church has welcomed a new flock of booklovers! Image: Bert Kaufmann/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

READ MORE | 10 bookstores you have to visit in the Netherlands

The previously old building of LocHal in Tilburg was also transformed into a spectacular new library which was recognised as World Building of the Year. 🏆

10. Be masters of 3D printing

Maybe it’s the DIY in Dutch blood, or maybe it’s just downright genius creativity — but to 3D print oxygen valves, steel bridges, and even houses is over-the-top forward-thinking by the Dutch. 🖱

READ MORE | Dutch Designer combating food wastage through awesome 3D printed food

Queen-Maxima-opens-world-sfirst-3D-printed-steel-bridge-in-Red-Light-District-in-Amsterdam
Opening of the world’s first 3D-printed bridge Image: Adriaande Groot/Supplied.

11. Choose cycling and public transport over cars

There’s cycling and then there’s Dutch cycling — a skill that’s in a whole different league.

READ MORE | Car sharing in the Netherlands is on the rise: here’s why it should continue

But whether you’re a bicycle person or more of a pedestrian you’ll realise that the Dutch almost always weigh in favour of ANY transportation method that doesn’t involve moving in a personal car.

12. Ban diesel vehicles from city centres

What’s the best way to keep Dutch cities’ air clean? Get rid of anything diesel!

The Netherlands has introduced milieuzones, meaning that diesel cars, motorbikes, and trucks can’t enter designated areas — making the air cleaner and fresher to breathe. 🧘‍♀️🌱

13. Take work-life balance seriously

The data supports it 📉 The Netherlands ranks top in the world for its work-life balance according to the OECD Better Life Index.

In a fast-paced world, steering society away from workaholism isn’t an easy task to achieve!

But when a country enlists burnout, moving, or even taking an exam as pressing reasons for work leave, then you know the Dutch are looking ahead into the people’s future.

Photo-of-woman-relaxing-outside-meditating
A good mind and soul balance is not a luxury item. Image: Unsplash

14. Work on making high-speed hyperloops a thing

Construction of the life-changing new “hyperloop” is currently underway at the European Hyperloop Center in Veendam. 

The invention of the 420-metre-long-test-tube is silent but violent.

The goal? To whoosh passengers in a capsule noiselessly through a high-speed hyperloop — without any emission — from Amsterdam to Paris.

Now that’s forward-thinking if you ask me!


As this list comes to an end, we give Dutchies a super 4.5 stars for their forward-thinking — but we left half a star out because there’s always room for improvement! 😉


What other forward-thinking things do Dutch people do? Tell us in the comments below!

Farah Al Mazouni 🇸🇾 🇺🇸
Farah Al Mazouni 🇸🇾 🇺🇸
Farah believes she's been on many adventures during her millennial life, each for a different (sometimes invisible) purpose. The latest adventure whisked her away to Amsterdam for love, and what a magical surprise she found in this city. Armed with imaginary confetti in her pocket, and ready to celebrate all wins, big and small, Farah says "ahla w sahla" or “welcome” to her latest adventure in this wonderland.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. They can think they’re mad efficient, but as a foreigner living and working besides them, they’re at best mildly efficient.

    But I do appreciate their directness.

    • Dutch don’t think that they are efficient. They don’t even want to be efficient. All they want is working as little as possible in as much possible time.
      A famous Dutch saying: “Today I’m going to dedicate as much as nearly 30% of my energy to my job.”

  2. 8. Give people the right to die. – This is nonsense. Any human being at any time can kill themselves; it’s called suicide. The so-called “right to die” is nothing more than the legitimating of murder. Allowing doctors to become legalized murderers is hardly forward thinking.

    • There is a huge difference between having the right to be helped by a trained physician to pass away in the same humane way that we allow pets to have and shooting yourself in your head in the hope that that will end your life.
      Euthanasia isn’t murder. It’s a meticulously designed proces with a lot of strict protocols to prevent abuse and plain murder.
      Allowing doctors to assist their patients in their last wish is forward thinking, leaving terminal patients to their fate and not give them a humane way to end life with dignity is the opposite of that.

  3. Why can Dutch huisarts not be progressive? Embrace preventative medicine, instead of prescribing paracetamol for everything and telling you to come back in two weeks!

    Lived in many countries, never seen a doctor google something in front of me until i came here !

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