The world has thousands of islands, many where people live, but mostly without people (likely a good thing). But they are still suffering from our wasteful lifestyles. One sailor who got shipwrecked on the beautiful Scilly Isles of the Cornish coast of England, was shocked to see the plastic waste, and now campaigns for zero waste living. Singer Jack Johnson runs plastic-free programs for schools in his native Hawaii. And islanders in remote areas often pop down to the beach to pick up trash like flip-flops, which washes up from western countries. The world is mostly water, so tides take whatever flushes down toilets and goes into the sea, somewhere else.
Treasured Islands is a beautiful guide to 200 of Britain’s quirky and rugged islands (194 inhabited out of over 6000). Note this book is geographical, so the ‘British Isles’ includes Ireland, but obviously not politically. The book covers:
- Lundy Island
- Isle of Wight
- Isle of Sheppey & Canvey Island
- Tidal Islands (Burgh, Holy, St Michael’s Mount)
- Inland Islands (Eel Pie, Derwent Isle, Peel Island)
- Shetlands, Fair Isles, Orkneys, Outer & Inner Hebrides
- Isle of Arran
- Isle of Man
- Walney Island
- Anglesey & Pembrokeshire Island
- Channel Islands
- Islands of Ireland
Beautifully illustrated with colour photos, you’ll also find the best islands for wildlife-spotting. Along with interesting historical and cultural anecdotes woven through, for a fascinating insight into the way of life on these sometimes remote settlements.
To The Island of Tides is a book by Scottish historian Alistair Moffat who travels to (and through the history of) the fated island of Lindisfarne (known today as Holy Island, a tourist attraction in Northumberland where scatty motorists have to be careful not to get washed away, if not following the tide tables). It was home to many monks who lived here for years (including St Cuthbert, a locally roasted coffee in Durham is named after him).
In this book, the author walks from his home in the Borders on pilgrimage in the footsteps of saints and scholars, before arriving for a secular retreat on the Holy Isle. A walk through history, a meditation on the power of place, and a more personal journey – and reflection on where life leads us.
Fringed with Mud and Pearls looks at how England’s islands have formed and how they are constantly changing, making a mockery of human claims to sovereignty. Scotland has its rugged Hebrides, Ireland its cliff-girt Arans and Wales its island of Twenty Thousand Saints. What as England got? The isles of Canvey, Sheppey, Wight and Dogs, Mersea, Brownsea, Foulness and Rat. Plus wild and rocky Lundy, the Scillies, the Farnes. Others have become locations for prisons, rubbish dumps and military installations.
The Islands Going Zero Waste
Hawaii has always looked after its beautiful island, and this has been more so, since the success of local singer/songwriter Jack Johnson (he and his wife recently launched the ‘reusable pint cup’ to stop single-use plastic waste on local beaches). This is made more important as due to the simple lives of locals and where it’s located, there are few recycling facilities (so bottles and paper would go to landfill, rather than recycling plants). We love Always Well Within, a beautiful blog on simple living and mindfulness by local resident Sandra Pawula- check it out!
If you fancy zero waste living on an island, then visit Greece. This country’s islands are racing to be the most sustainable on earth. The island of Tilos off the south coast recycles 86% of its rubbish, charges for plastic bags and has even eliminated the need for a local landfill. To put their efforts into context, EU targets are to recycle 55% of waste by 2025 and 65% by 2035 (they are streets ahead).
And despite having thousands of visitors each summer, it still is zero waste and runs on green energy. Local power now means all the residents are independently energy-efficient, with no worry about rising bills from big fossil fuel companies. Other islands worldwide (like Scotland’s Isle of Bute and Vancouver Island) have also gone zero waste.