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