Climate change will be the most serious threat that our (and the next) generation will face, and we have little time left to stop it. How do we help in the Netherlands?

While the Netherlands can be seen as a rather ‘green’ country (hello, bikes everywhere!), it actually isn’t, and the ecological footprint of its inhabitants is one of the highest in Europe. There are a lot of small actions that all of us can take to help the environment and exploit our planet as little as possible!

1How to help the environment in the Netherlands: Reduce and recycle

Become aware of what you consume and watch your trash! As in, try to produce as little waste as possible. This comes in many forms:

  • Avoid buying produce that is wrapped in plastic
  • Remember to bring a reusable fabric bag with you for your grocery shopping (this saves money too!)
  • Bring a reusable water bottle with you
  • Recycle paper and, where possible (it depends on the city), put plastic trash separately from the general garbage
  • Reuse things that aren’t damaged or try to fix them before throwing them away

You don’t need to live like a hermit to be easy on the planet!

The use of plastic bags would deserve a whole other article itself. Recycling plastic is not a 100% efficient process, and it’s unfortunately quite costly: it is more expensive to recycle it than it is to produce more of it! You can do the math and figure out which solution most companies go for… thus, I’m still very surprised as to why the Netherlands doesn’t follow the course of other (even much less innovative) countries, like Italy for example, where supermarkets are banned from selling plastic bags and only biodegradable bags are available. Cut the problem at the root!

2How to help the environment in the Netherlands: Local produce, less meat

While going full vegetarian and even vegan is a more and more common occurrence, especially in the Netherlands, not all of us are ready for this (and not all of us can follow a strictly veg diet). Still, there are things you can do to have a lower impact on the planet with your food:

  • Shop at the market when possible, and reduce the exotic stuff; less carbon emissions will be produced
  • Try to eat fruits and veggies that are “in season”: again, less transport involved (and they’ll taste better)
  • Follow the diet that has people living up to their 90s and 100s – aka the Mediterranean diet – and you won’t mind the reduction of the meat. The Mediterranean diet (consisting of olive oil, lots of whole grains and legumes, veggies, moderate fish and dairy and lean meat a couple of times per week and red meat a couple of times per month) is regarded as the healthiest in the world, and it sure reduces your carbon footprint

3How to help the environment in the Netherlands: Sustainable transport

Thankfully, in the Netherlands, a bike is all you need for (most of) your daily commutes. However, remember that taking a few airplanes per year kind of balances out not using or having a car!

  • Travel with trains when possible (especially if you’re going to nearby countries)
  • Use your “allotted airplane quota” wisely, as in: don’t take an airplane to go back to your home country just for a weekend or various weekends per year. Make it worth it!

Do you have other tips on how to help the environment in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!

Image: Gosse Bouma/Supplied. 

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