In mid- 2015, a groundbreaking action started on the Cycladic island of Sifnos at the initiative of Sifnos’ Cooperative Society. This action is based on two main axes: to inform Sifnos’ residents and visitors and raise their awareness on the need of reducing disposable plastic bags, as well as to provide handmade reusable bags, manufactured on the island. In its effort to reduce or even to eliminate the use of plastic bags, the Society itself has undertaken the production of these hand-made 100% cotton bags, which are sold in most of the island’s super markets and shops.
In the meantime, given that Sifnos is not interconnected to the electricity grid of the mainland, making it exclusively dependent on fossil fuels, the Society is also exploring ways to make Sifnos self-sufficient in terms of energy aiming to tap into renewable energy sources such as the wind and the sea water.“We are convinced that it can be done and should be done with tried and tested technologies,” said Society’s president, Apostolos Dimopoulos.
The objective is for the island to become self-sufficient through the implementation and use of local renewable energy sources (RES). To achieve their goal, the Society’s members are meeting with other societies across Europe in efforts to bring in foreign investors interested in backing the eco-projects. At the same time, they are convincing fellow islanders to make Sifnos a sustainable island where the production facilities are jointly owned by the local citizens. In view of the ongoing economic crisis, the islanders are more than keen to return to a state of greater autonomy.
This initiative was recognized by the REScoop 202020 IEE project and was included in the under development renewable energy sources cooperatives (RES coops). Within this framework, a local workshop open to all locals was organized on the island. The discussions with the local society were fruitful and the presence of REScoop gave them motivation to continue their efforts. Amid the production of energy, the project’s side goals are to improve and protect handcrafts, commerce, agriculture, tourism, all aspects of economic activity through RES, creating new working positions, and substantially improving living standards.
Sifnos is not just an example of how a REScoop helps citizens come together; it is also one which shows how cooperation can open new avenues to generate growth for the local economy; and it shows how the potential for other communities to follow suit is there. As more technologies become available for individuals to generate their electricity, the ability to supply our own clean energy only increases and creates a more secure future for ourselves and our planet.
So next time you visit Sifnos, embrace the effort and help Sifnos become the first Greek island without plastic bags!