Only about 2,000 people live on the Isles of Scilly, a group of small, rocky islands that lie off Land’s End in Cornwall, England. Despite being 28 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, the islands enjoy a mild climate in which palm trees flourish, and the Scillonians raise flowers and vegetables for the London market. The remote location has kept their islands idyllic, and in recent years they have attracted some 120,000 tourists annually. But with increasing tourism comes the challenge: how to keep these islands pristine when garbage has to be shipped to the mainland at considerable cost to the islanders?
The islanders requested help from the U.K.-based National Association for Areas of Outstanding Beauty and the Cornwall waste consultants at Rezolve and came up with an intensive recycling plan, which the British government helped to fund.
Every family on the islands has been given a home compost system and reusable shopping bags. One of the hotels now crushes its own wine and beer bottles, which saves on shipping and produces a material that can be used in building projects. Visitors can help out by depositing their aluminum cans in blue bins around the islands.
The BBC ran a story about the successful efforts of the islanders (ScillyWaste was Highly Commended at the National Recycling Awards) and quoted Scilly council officer Neville Gardner, who explained such success: “The concept of polluting paradise is much easier to understand if you are living in paradise."
If you’d like to visit, a good time to visit is during Walk Scilly 08, the Isles of Scilly Walking Festival (March 24-31), which features guided walks of beaches, cliffs, archaeological sites, flower farms, and prime birding areas. Proceeds from some of the events will benefit Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust.
To reach Scilly, you can fly from Southampton or take a ferry from Penzance.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Note: Walk Scilly 08 is not to be confused with Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.