Between that financial crisis, this pandemic and everything in between, it sometimes feels like we’re forgetting about the elephant in the room: the environment. Just last week the biggest ice sheet (size of Manhattan) came unstuck and is now drifting along. No biggie. Just another iceberg, right? Not so, it seems. A handful of countries and initiatives are finally cutting a trail through the thick foliage of bureaucracy and politics so that others may follow in their footsteps. Enter Greece and its merry band of island rebels. Like modern day islander ship merchants trying to topple an empire, these brave mayors, city officials and every day volunteers are sowing the seeds of a new tomorrow. Make no mistake, they aren’t canaries in the mine. They are the drummers on the front line, the flag bearers and heralds of a green sustainable economy. These Greek islands are pretty, and they are leading. And we invite you to visit, enjoy and take back home that spirit of ‘yes we can’.
The small Dodecanese island of Astypalea, like most Greek islands with no airport, is stuck between choices. Go all in or bide its time. And it’s chosen the latter, emphatically. Astypalea is as of this week, the first island to implement a zero carbon emissions initiative lasting 7 years through a partnership with VW that provides it with electrical charging points for the hundreds of municipal and private electrical powered vehicles. This signals the transition to a fully electrified island without the use of coal powered plants. Astypalea also happens to be a classically beautiful island with spectacular beaches and top notch food. Make your way over. It may change your life forever.
Tilos on the other has made it a life goal to change lives. Whether it be refugees working in co=ops run with locals or leading the way in sustainability. Tilos is in fact, Greece’s first energy sufficient island. Through wind turbines and solar panels, the island’s 500 year round population have their energy needs covered. It’s a fairly big island, at 64.525 square kilometers, it’s no slouch. And certainly capable of hosting numbers should you wish to make the pilgrimage. You will be rewarded with clean, clear beaches, an authentic way of life and no small amount of good memories.
Alonissos is an island whose green credentials are impregnable. This year it was selected in National Geographic’s ‘Best of the World’ list of destinations for its conservation and preservation achievements. Alonissos and its 6 adjoining islets are almost entirely a protected Natura 2000 marine park and underwater museum, the biggest of its kind in the world. It is a destination for those looking to tune out, opt in and slow down. Side effects may include euphoria and life affirmation.
The truth is that Greece is experiencing a renaissance (long overdue) and these three islands are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Notable shout outs go to Kythnos, Symi, Paros and Milos.