When deciding where to test green tech, Greek policymakers picked the remotest point on the map: tiny Tilos.
Providing electricity and basic services, and even access by ferry, are all a challenge for this island of just 500 year-round inhabitants. Its most recent problem has been dealing with plastic.
But authorities this week announced that more than 80% of Tilos’ trash is now being recycled. A landfill where untreated garbage was once buried in a hillside has been permanently closed.
The island has already been producing most of its own electricity since 2019, using a solar park and a wind turbine hooked up to trailer-sized batteries that maintain an uninterrupted supply.
S-shaped and slightly larger than Manhattan, Tilos is a far-flung member of an island chain in the southeast Aegean Sea, where most beaches are empty, goats roam next to centuries-old churches, and the sawtooth mountains smell of wild oregano. Self reliance is a necessity here and a source of pride.
So is embracing technology.
At the main port, electric vehicles hum past tourists, transporting goods. Solar panels power bus stop information boards and a ramp that gives people with disabilities access to the sea.
Mayor Maria Kamma-Aliferi said Tilos’ dwindling population added urgency to making changes. “In the 1990s there were 270 people left on this island. There were very few births. The school was in danger of closing because it had so few kids ‒ I was one of them,” she said.
“And the island came close to being fully deserted.”