After use, hang your teabag on the line to dry, so you can re-use it again. Well okay, that was an April Fool’s Day joke of the newspaper for misers, the Vrekkenkrant. But the fact that this tiny country, the Netherlands (16 million inhabitants), even has a Vrekkenkrant, one has to admit, says something about its people. Here are three of our favourite ways Amsterdammers help their wallet and by a happy chance, the environment as well.
Nothing beats a home cooked meal
Amsterdammers eat at home, take their food and go for a picnic in the park or, with nice weather, go sailing on a little boat through the canals. They rarely walk into a restaurant. Seriously. On average, the Dutch eat out once or twice a month, according to the Dutch online dinner reservation website Couverts. Compare that to Londonners – who on average eat out 3,7 times A WEEK. Eating out is also more expensive in Amsterdam: you’ll pay € 27,45 for a 3-course meal on average, compared to € 17,70 in the US (tip included!) or € 20,47 in Great Britain (figures from 2012-2013). Clearly, we don’t suggest you follow the Dutch’s example – you’re on holidays. But it might explain why restaurants generally close early (kitchens often close around 10 pm on weekdays) and remain closed on Mondays. So beware if you’re a late night eater. You might get stuck eating at a snack bar or a shawarma joint – there go your conscious intentions.
The thing with the plastic bags
The Dutch generally go grocery shopping well prepared: they take their own shopping bag with them. Getting a plastic bag in the grocery store will cost you 25 eurocents – a wonderful incentive to make people bring their own. In the 90s, environmental groups convinced all grocery stores to stop giving away plastic bags for free. The Dutch got a bit slow after that jump start, but as of January 2016, shops are forbidden by law to give away any plastic bags (bags needed for food safety are exempted). For the same reason, most soda bottles come with a deposit; by returning it to the store you get 10 or 25 eurocents back. So bring your own plastic bag and hang on to it. If you’ve collected a lot of plastic bags during your stay in Amsterdam, drop them off at EkoPlaza before you leave town, so other customers can use them.
Of course: the bike
30% of all rides in Amsterdam are made by bike (compare this to 34% by car). Again, there are very pragmatic reasons for travelling by bike: the bike will get you to most locations almost just as fast as the car (bikes travelling 13 km/hour, car 17 km/hour). Amsterdammers bike away 2 million kilometres a day. It wouldn’t be Dutch if the municipality hadn’t calculated how much this habit saves the city: it saves the city from investing 20 million euros a year for maintenance on the roads and 20 million a year for maintenance on public transport. Lately, more and more tourists have jumped the fence and rented bikes as well. It’s a great way to explore the city.