AMORGOS, the easternmost island of the Greek Cyclades is a stunner,
with whitewashed houses, trestled alleyways and fiery rust sunsets ...
Kevin Raub in New York Post, 2010

Dear Visitor – help us to keep Amorgos green

Please take a moment to consider your role as a tourist, as a guest, but also as an inhabitant on this planet.

You are probably very aware of the environmental crisis on the Earth, and also aware that we are all responsible for a change to happen. The change comes down to every individual and how we move in our lives: What we buy, what we throw away, where we throw what we throw away, how we travel, what we think we need and what we believe will make us happy.

help us to keep amorgos clean

One can write pages and pages about this but let’s come to where we are now: Amorgos. The island carries a heavy burden of environmental challenges during summer season. And there are voices claiming that the sea, as an example, will not be as clean, turquoise and inviting as it is now, in a near future.

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Help us to keep Armogos clean!
On a global level the consciousness about environmental issues is getting stronger, so, dear Visitor, please bring that consciousness with you also when you travel!

Here are a few, simple ways you can help keeping Amorgos green, clean, eco-friendly:

  • Bring your own bag to the supermarkets. Smile and insist on using it instead of plastic bags. (If you don’t have a suitable bag there are cotton/canvas ones for sale in some shops)
  • There are since the beginning of 2009 recycling bins, but many people get lazy or ignorant about using them, especially during tourist season when most locals are really busy. So you can help by sorting your own garbage out and bringing the items that are recyclable to the special bins. Some pensions have separate bins at their reception, if not suggest that they get some!
  • One thing that creates mountains of garbage is the paper/plastic table cloths that more or less every restaurant uses nowadays. Kindly tell the person serving you that you prefer without, and be willing to tell why if they ask.
  • Help reducing the waste of plastic water bottles; the water is drinkable in most places; just ask to be sure about the situation in the pension where you stay and in the restaurant where you eat.
  • Ask for local products. There are plenty of things the island can produce and could provide many stores and restaurants with but nowadays many locals have abandoned their traditional production in favor of imported products. Let them know that local products are highly valued and appreciated. (Especially if they are also organic!) So ask in supermarkets for local cheese, olive oil, capers, olives, soap, wine… And in the restaurants ask if they have local wine, if the cheese, meat, vegetables, olive oil, vinegar etc is local.
  • Maybe you have more ideas? Leave a comment; let’s discuss these so important things which can make a difference aiming to a more sustainable and responsible way of living and travelling. Tell us what you believe could get better (more eco-friendly) on the island. Bring up subjects like dirty sea/beaches, garbage in the nature, too many cars, cars on the waterfront of Egiali main beach or other things of your concern. Amorgos is (among many, many other places of course) a paradise on the planet. Let’s keep it like that!

Somebody can’t do everything but everybody can do something 🙂

Thank you!

Karin Oscarson living & working on Amorgos since 1993, IRIS Center


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  1. I fully agree, Karin! As inhabitants of our planet we should take responsibility wherever we are.

    For a sparsely inhabitet island like amorgos the rubbish problem is quite new, while in most of our home countries are existing consicousioness and good answers for problems meanwhile.

    In Austrian supermarkets, for instance, we have to pay for plastic bags, in many other countries they are simply forbidden for shopping purposes. In most shops on Amorgos I really had to insist on packing my purchases into my own bag… but if many visitors deny plastic packaging this could be a good hint for the shop owners.

    Drinking the same water as the locals, could be a good advice – not only to avoid plastic bottle garbage but also is one of the best ways to acclimate quickly to an aerea with different climate and food.

    An idea to keep the sea water clean, is to use sun protection stuff carefully – especially sun oil. It does not make any sense, to oil oneself like sardines in tin and immediadetly after this go for a swim. Oil infects the natural balance of water – no matter if it comes from a leak of an oil platform or from a soaking body.

  2. roussou August 24, 2010

    Guten morgen an alle unsere Freunde hier…
    Ich finde den Artikel von Karin super. Er spricht all das aus, was jeder von uns denkt. Leider sind sich zu wenig Menschen bewußt, was wir uns selber antun. Schon alleine die Wasser Plastik Falschen…. Warum werden hier nicht, wie zB in Deutschland, Pfandflaschen drauß. Man findet keine Flasche und keine Dose mehr im Müll.
    Wie heißt es so schön… Der Mensch ist das schlimmste Tier !!
    Entschuldigung, das ich nicht in Englisch schreibe… Gesprochen komme ich ganz gut durchs Leben. Aber das mit dem Schreiben werde ich in diesem Leben nicht mehr schaffen.
    Und ich fordere alle Leute auf, in welcher Sprache auch immer, hier ein bißchen zu erzählen.
    Wünsche einen schönen Tag

    • nicola August 24, 2010

      thx “roussou” für den first nicht-englischen-beitrag and your thoughts & gedanken.

      pet flaschen sind wirklich ein wichtiges thema, das auch mich, nicht nur für amorgos, berührt. sogar in meiner heimat, in der vorwiegend quellwasser aus der leitung kommt (in wien gibt es hochquellwasser aus dem wasserhahn), gibt es viele menschen, die sich wasser im supermarkt kaufen. aber das ist ein anderes kapitel, auch als wirtschaftsfaktor für recycling-betriebe…
      [we can’t change the times, we are living in a plastic-world]

      ich trinke (fast überall) gleich bei der ankunft ein glas wasser aus der leitung, dem brunnen, der zisterne weil mir das immer schon geholfen hat mich möglichst schnell zu akklimatisieren. mit den reifen jahren und vielen reisen habe ich einen ziemlich guten sinn entwickelt um trinkbares von nicht trinkbarem zu unterscheiden (das gilt im übrigen nicht nur für wasser *g*). wer sich aber in wasser-angelegenheiten nicht sicher fühlt sollte sich _eine_ kunststoffflasche mit wasser kaufen und sie anschliessend als entkeimer für “unsicheres” wasser benutzen. leute in weniger wasser-gesegneten gegenden (als den alpen oder amorgos) erzeugen damit sehr erfolgreich ihr keimfreies trinkwasser:
      [everybody can use and recycle plastic in a useful way]

      btw. das leitungswasser in amorgos finde ich zum durstlöschen einwandfrei (zum essen gehört aber ein anständiger wein!) und wenn das wasser aus der zisterne kommt hilfts beim waschen sogar gegen falten! really approved 🙂
      [amorgos water is perfect against wrinkles – amorgean wine is pretty nice to enjoy the rest… ;-)]

  3. All extremely commendable and of course we agree totally. I have no idea what two of the comments on this article say as they are in some other language than Greek or English surely the only two languages that should be used in this forum. I hope therefore that I am not repeating something that has been said. I refer to paragraph three. Unfortunately regulations dictate (probably EU) that for health and hygiene reasons tables must be covered in a fresh clean cloth for diners. In Southern Africa and Asia they make paper out of elephant dung. There is research currently taking place to see if this can be done with donkey droppings. Perhaps this would be the way forward as we have a plentiful supply of this commodity on Amorgos. After use they can just return to nature. A whole new meaning to ‘Dropping by for Dinner’.

    • nicola August 25, 2010

      hi paul, the two comments are in german about drinking amorgian water and avoiding plastic bottle garbage. there is a simple method to sterilize water for those who are not so confident with water from the tab.

      the way i see it for the future, people should have the chance to publish their articles and comments in different languages than greek or english. of course english will stay the main language of the magazine. which paragraph three to you mean?

      the regulation with table clothes can’t be enacted by the EU, in many EU countries, also austria, restaurants don’t have to use table clothes.

  4. roussou August 25, 2010

    Hello nicola… thank you for the very interisting artikel about water.. I was very surprised…
    and Hi Paul.. it´s me, Maria – the one who is always to late for Yoga class.. I´m sorry, that I write very much in german. It´s easier for me. To speak is no problem, but to write in english is extrem difficult for me. And don´t forget, I have a loooot of friends in germany and I know, if they understand a few things better they will be more often on this side. I think, it´s not a bad idea…
    Have a nice night all of you….

    • Maria, I know who you are!!! I take your point about languages but it is difficult for a discussion group in lots of different tongues. Thanks Nicola about the table cloths I always just instantly blame the EU. It must be a Greek law then – I have checked this with a few taverna owners. Regarding water when walking or on the beach visitors could just buy one bottle and then keep refilling it at one of the public water cisterns. This is very good water. Note that a plastic bottle can only be refilled a number of times before bacteria builds up. Look out for a stain on the bottom of the bottle.

  5. roussou August 25, 2010

    Good night
    Kali nixta
    Buona notte
    Gute Nacht
    Laku noch

  6. Author
    Iris September 1, 2010

    Hi! Just wanted to thank you for many interesting comments (also the german ones as far as I understand:-).
    And Nicola: Interesting article on sunscreen polution! Also wanted to mention that sun oil usually is made of paraffinum liquidum, a quite nasty oil which is a byproduct from petroleum(!) and not at all good for our bodies! I googled it some time ago when somebody gave me a massage-oil made from that stuff. Here is some info on paraffinum liquidum I found:


    “Liquidum Paraffinum is an exotic sounding way to say mineral oil (!!) See Mineral Oil …>> Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in many products (baby oil is 100% mineral oil!) Any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH’s (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap.

  7. sol September 6, 2010

    Thank you dear Karin for a very intesting an accurate article.
    …and for your concern about how our beautiful Amorgos is feeling after the high summer season.

    I believe that risponsible, conscious tourism is an imperative factor in order to preserve the health of the island, and in that aspect I think it is up to all the actors within the tourim industry to send the right sort of message to the incoming tourism to the island,it is up to them, restaurant owners, waitors, hotel/ hostal owners, car rental staff, etc, to set the example and the rules in a kind, friendly way, helping the visitors out in how to handle their garbage, how to spare energy and water, how to take care of the beaches and clear water…etc…
    On the other hand I do believe the consumer has an immense power in its hands when it comes to demanding and expecting from the service suppliers on their aproach to a longterm, conscious and sustainable enviromental behaviour.
    You are so right and it feels so empowering when you suggest we ask the waitors to avoid the paper/plastic cloth, we bring our own shopping bags to the market and ask for local organic products or ask where the products come from…and maybe think twice before renting a car instead of discovering the magical paths of the island…
    What a dream would be if we could all see see Amorgos as a microcosmos reflecting the reality of the whole planet, and turn this beautiful island into an example of sustainable, conscious tourism.
    Many of us who come back year after year to Amorgos, and even the first time visitors, are drawn to the island for its reputation of being of an extraornary natural beauty and its very special energy. I beleive we must take risponsability for that, take good care of all the gifts that Amorgos offers us and not only come here use and abuse of the nature without give anything back.

    As tourism is such an important field for the economy of the island, I wonder if there are some school programes for the new generation of Amorgians who in their turn will lead tourism in the island.

    I had the luck of working in the implementation of the Smart Voyager/ Rainforest Alliance Certification in a beautiful Hacienda Inn, in the Ecuadorian Andes, and it was very inspiring to see how didactic, informative and accessible their training programes were for all the staff working in accomodtion, restaurants, cafés, transportation but also and specially for schools. Maybe we can get some inspiration from other places in the world who are struggling but successfully creating a sustainable respectful tourism operation that attracts conscious, mindful, loving visitors.

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