Greek Isle Alonissos Goes ‘Green’, Shuns Plastic Bags

The Greek island of Alonissos in the Northern Sporades, is serious about going “green” with local professionals not ordering plastic bags any more and consumers opting for paper orreusable cloth bags instead.

Under the motto: “Alonissos without Plastic Bags”, the Alonissos municipality teamed up with the Mediterranean SOS Network and MOm (the Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal) in an initiative that aims to significantly reduce the use of plastic bags on the island.

“People here have had environmental concerns for a number of years, regardless of laws and prohibitions,” Alonissos Mayor Petros Vafinis told Kathimerini daily.

Alonissos started its recycling program in 2012, and aims to become not only one of the country’s “greenest” islands but also a destination promoting nature activities and sustainable tourism.

Already known across the globe for being a habitat of the Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus monachus, Alonissos is protected under the EU’s Natura program.

Local nature groups, including the Mediterranean SOS Network and MOm, are currently distributing cotton bags, holding workshops, seminars and awareness-raising events as part of the campaign.

It is hoped that other local administrations will follow Alonissos’ example. According to the Mediterranean SOS Network, other municipalities in Greece have already expressed their intent on participating in the initiative.

It is estimated that an average consumer in Greece uses approximately 242 plastic bags each year. In the meantime, EU countries will be expected by the end of 2018 to charge extra for plastic bags in efforts to discourage their use.

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