Located in the Northern Sporades, the Greek island of Alonissos is vying for the “Greenest Island” title in the country. Although Greece and the EU already have plans to phase out wasteful plastic bags, the people here have embraced the idea, so on December 1st 2015 the ban went into effect. Alonnisos Mayor Petros Vafinis speaking to the press said “People here have had environmental concerns for a number of years, regardless of laws and prohibitions.” Alonissos is located in an area known as the National Marine Park of the Northern Sporades. This marine park dedicated to protecting wildlife is also part of the European Union’s Natura program. Another concern is the protection of the native Monk Seal endangered and found only here.
The recycling program began to really pick up momentum in 2012, and as Mayor Vafinis explains “When we started the recycling program, I did not expect people, especially older citizens, to participate in the effort. Grandmothers are now first in line at the recycling bins. I’m very pleased with the progress made.”
As you can see from my images taken from both land and sea compliments Alonissos Triton Dive Center that this island is a beautiful serene place offering world class scuba and snorkeling. In fact the Mediterranean SOS Network and MOm (Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal) will donate 2,000 tissue paper bags and distribute fliers in order to raise awareness and inform all of the island’s residents. A campaign targeting visitors will get under way in the summer.
Small business owners are also fully on board, they have stopped ordering plastic, and have turned to reusable bags too, even the gift shops are participating all at a higher cost for them. Not bad for a country that the US media branded as an economic train wreck not so long ago.
I had only a few short days to visit this beautiful island, but it left an impression with me that lasts to this day. The amazing clear ocean, the warm genuine people, and the food and wine of course. But what makes me feel so proud is the action the island residents are taking to preserve what they have, and understanding that it could easily be lost. Perhaps we in the US could learn a lesson from them. For the latest information about lodging, activities and cultural aspects point your browser to http://alonissos.gr/en/