Image for Plastic-free paradise: The Greek island eliminating plastic waste in three years

Plastic-free paradise: The Greek island eliminating plastic waste in three years

Businesses on the Greek island of Paros have committed to reducing plastic waste

Businesses on the Greek island of Paros have committed to reducing plastic waste

The island of Paros, in Greece’s Cycladic region, is famed for its blue-and-white painted houses, beautiful beaches and turquoise seas. And very soon it may be able to add its environmental credentials to that list, as it has been picked to become a model for a future free of plastic waste.

The Clean Blue Paros project, which is being run by UK-based NGO Common Seas, is hoping to make the island free from plastic waste within three years through eradicating problem plastics, overhauling the waste management systems, educating residents and changing legislation. This is the first time a holistic whole-systems-change approach has been attempted anywhere. 

Paros was chosen because of its size and complexity – 13,000 people live here all year round but it welcomes around 400,000 tourists every summer. The team have their work cut out – 95% of waste in the Mediterranean is plastic and is mostly linked to the tourism industry.

The project aims to make Paros free from plastic waste within three years

Some 50 businesses have committed to reducing plastic, and the team hope more will come on board once business owners have had time to reassess their practices. Other initiatives include turning used hotel bedsheets – which would normally be sent to landfill – into reusable shopping bags; providing schoolchildren with reusable water bottles and installing drinking fountains at the school; and overhauling the island’s waste management.

The ultimate goal, though, is to scale the project to even larger communities. “Plastic pollution is very complex and there’s not one solution,” says Jo Royle, managing director of Common Seas. “But we hope if these systems work they can be applied elsewhere too.”

Image: Daria Nepriakhina

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