Greek island changes fortune with green tech

Authorities on the small island of Tilos in Greece have announced that 80% of its trash is now being recycled. Tilos almost lost all of its population due to power and waste problems, however, Greek policymakers decided to use the island to test green tech. In due time, they have turned around its fortune.

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Today, the island of just 500 residents receives tens of thousands of tourists each year. It is well powered with solar panels that support basic domestic uses and even provide power for electric vehicles. Tilos started producing its own electricity in 2019 thanks to a solar park and wind turbines hooked up to batteries. For a small island, slightly larger than the size of Manhattan, these achievements are commendable.

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Tilos is one of the farthest flank islands among the Greek islands. Most of its beaches are usually empty, where goats and other animals roam freely close to medieval churches. For such an island, self-reliance is necessary and authorities have made it possible.

Mayor Maria Kamma-Aliferi says that the efforts made to make it self-reliant have helped repopulate the island. “In the 1990s there were 270 people left on this island. There were very few births. The school was in danger of closing because it had so few kids ‒ I was one of them,” Kamma-Aliferi said. 

Greece is a country made up of many small islands. Today, it has more than 200 populated islands, most of which suffer from power outages and garbage management issues. For such small communities that require self-reliance, power generation and waste management can be a big problem. On most of the islands, waste landfills are hidden within hills. Tilos, however, has converted a landfill where untreated garbage was once littered into a well-organized park closed to the public.

With an intentional approach to dealing with these problems, it is possible to bring change to such communities. This summer, Tilos is expecting more than 30,000 visitors. The Island of Rhodes just next to Tillos is expecting over 2 million visitors by air alone in the same period. Equipping these islands with functional systems makes it possible for the islands to become economic hubs.

“This is an island community that’s open to change. It volunteered to take in refugees and held Greece’s first same-sex partnership ceremony. We had other options but we knew we had to start here,” Athanasios Polychronopoulos, who heads a Greek recycling firm, said.

Via ABC News

Lead image via Pexels

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