The Dutch aren't stingy, but zero waste

A Note About Dutch Stereotypes and the Zero Waste Movement

The Dutch are known for being frugal. It used to be an aspect of my culture I’d feel ashamed of. I so vividly remember how my ex shunned me for sharing one tea bag between two cups of tea. “You are so Dutch! That’s such a cheap thing to do!”. I actually stopped doing it for a long time. It’s funny how things turn around, however. Call us cheap, frugal, or stingy, I call us resourceful. On kliekjesdag, usually the end of the week where you would just chuck all leftovers together in a frying pan and create something from nothing. We were combating food waste before it was cool.

 

To be completely honest with you, the stereotype of people from the Netherlands being frugal is driven more by the fact that we like to save some dough than save the earth. Still, considering that we are inherently (cue nature/nurture discussion) low waste consumers makes it a lot easier to jump and stay on the zero waste-bandwagon.

 

Shoutout to my mum for using those toothbrush clamps, double-dipping tea bags and making french toast out of stale bread.

Graduates of 2018

Last Friday, I had the honour of graduating from Leiden University after four challenging, but incredibly rewarding years of studying International Studies. The ceremony took place in the Pieterskerk, a stunning church that had been built in the 17th century. The whole experience of us students walking in procession as the orchestra music bounced off the ancient walls, while family and professors watched us come in, beaming with pride, was nothing short of overwhelming.

unattainable life advice

Several members of the faculty were giving speeches that had dissapointingly little elements of surprise: Go follow your passion! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Make the best of any given situation! Meanwhile I wondered whether the advice they were giving actually got them to where they were today.

The most powerful speech I heard that day was actually not given by a professor, with years of knowledge and experience, but by a twentysomething graduate whom I shared a couple of classes with in my first year. Everyone knew her as an exceptional student, someone who was going to make it in their career and life generally.

Then she started talking about the challenges, self-doubt and confusion she faced while trying to find the career path that would make her happy. She was jumping from one incredible opportunity to the next, until she wasn’t sure that this was what she was ‘supposed to do’. She moved back in with her parents and spent some time trying to figure out her next steps as she worked a part-time job. Fast forward one year, she has made the decision to do another masters, to specialize into the one thing she is truly passionate about.

university student graduation dipoloma

Millennial eyes

Why did this resonate with me so much?

Upon graduation,  you suddenly get confronted with a whole new series of challenges. What are you going to be doing now? Surely you’ll do another Master’s program, right? What, you don’t want to pursue a career that aligns with your degree? What a waste! You’ll get these sorts of questions on a daily basis, and everyone expects you to have an answer ready. Cause you must have some sort of plan, right? This millennial life ain’t easy.

This brings me to why I’ve started this blog:

I’ve noticed that a lot of my fellow millennials (my friends, coworkers, and peers included) are faced by choice paralysis, job dissatisfaction, mental issues, a general lack of focus and so on. According to various media outlets, millennials are the most stressed-out generation to date. Recent Dutch research has found that 75% of all surveyed respondents (between the age of 18 and 34) has considered going to a psychologist. Burn-outs and depressions seem to become more and more common. What’s going on here?

We’ve grown up and have been shaped by a tumultuous history, characterised by rapid social and technological change. We are the first digital generation. We are social media addicts. We are snowflakes. We are creators of entirely new markets. For the first time in a long time we’ll have a lower salary than our parents. We saw 9/11 on television before we were old enough to make sense of it.

Is this what defines us?

Millennial Eyes aims to help millennials make sense of their lives, and how they’re living it. By creating a platform where we – the largest and most diverse generation in history – can share experiences and discuss everyday issues without judgement, we can start becoming more mindful of the context in which we’re continuing to grow (up). Whether you’re an ‘old millennial’ or a ’90’s kid’, we can all learn something from each other.

Join me in exploring what shapes the lives of Generation Y!

– Isla