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Sustainability Digits: Green Beans, kiloWatts and Solar

September 1st, 2015


We’ve been busy on Star Island measuring our resources. Here’s a look at some sustainability digits from 8/15-8/21.

Green Beans Harvested: 7 lbs

The gardens on Star Island are providing loads of produce for guests and staff. Beyond the 7 lbs of green beans harvested between August 15 – 21, we’ve also brought in 5.5 lbs of arugala, 24 lbs of zucchini, 3 lbs of tomatoes, and 1 lb of broccoli. Much of the harvested food goes to Pelicans — our summer staff — in salads.

Electricity Used in One Day: 1,334 kWh

We’re keeping track of our energy usage and trying to decrease it as much as possible. Thursday, August 20 marked the day with the highest energy usage between August 15 – 21. A total of 1,334 kiloWatt hours were used on that day. The biggest user of energy was the Waste Water Treatment Facility with 299 kWh.

Solar Powered: 9.4 hours per day

On average, Star Island’s new solar array provided 9.4 hours of energy between August 15-21. Our efficient diesel generators provided energy for the remaining average of 14.6 hours per day during the same time.

Want to learn more about the Green Gosport Initiative? Click here to view our online dashboard.

Sustainability Digits: Cardboard, Water, Chickens

August 18th, 2015


We’ve been busy on Star Island measuring our resources. Here are some digits from the week of August 8 – 14:

Compost to Chickens: 611 lbs

Certain leftover foods can be sent to our flock of chickens on island. So instead of throwing out 611 lbs of food, we were able to feed our growing chickens (who will later be food for staff).

Cardboard for Compost: 273 lbs

With loads of cardboard on island, we recycle some, but also shred most to add to our compost. Why? Composting needs a combination of nitrogen and carbon. Our food waste provides the nitrogen; shredded cardboard adds carbon.

Water Per Person: 87 gallons

We create drinking water on Star Island from a mix of sources: reverse osmosis, treated rain water, and imported water. Last week our staff and guests used, on average, 87 gallons of water per person for showering, cooking, and laundry, among other purposes.

Sorting Trash, Learning About Sustainability

August 5th, 2015

Trash Sorting Competition

On a recent sunny afternoon on Star Island, a group of youth from the International Affairs Conference gathered on the lawn in front of Brookfield to look on as a group of Pelicans – our summer staff – sorted through two large garbage bags.

Out of the bags, staff pulled such things as plastic cups, apple cores and tinfoil all in the name of education. The two bags – one from a staff location, the other from a guest area – were picked to see which group is better at separating out recycling and compost from trash. With a goal of reducing the amount of waste sent off island, and to limit our impact on landfills, Star Island tries to educate the entire island community about sustainability.
Organized by Sustainability and Environmental Education Intern Lily Hahn and Sustainability Liaison to Pelicans Kevin Brown, the afternoon provided a friendly, competitive way to visualize the impact of disposing items in the correct bins.

Free ice cream stood on the line for the group with the least amount of recycling and compost in the trash. Several Pelicans looked on behind the youth as more and more items came out of the bags and were placed in labeled piles. Conference youth often shouted out which pile a non-trash item should go. In the end, the conference bag contained fewer rogue items, and the Pelicans headed to dinner. However, with about 2/3 of each bag consisting of items other than trash, there is room for improvement on both sides.

When a Week is Too Long, Stay for a Few Days

July 11th, 2015

International Affairs Conference Profile

You can attend a summer program on Star Island without having to stay an entire week. Whether you have the weekend free, or a few open days midweek, you have the opportunity to experience Star Island and our welcoming summer programs for just the right amount of time.

How? As a Conference Overnight Guest. Pay for the amount of days you’ll be staying, and a reduced programming fee. This alternative to the full length of a conference provides you the same access to the engaging theme talks, leisurely workshops, and special events that define a stay on Star Island.

The upcoming International Affairs Conference is the perfect time to try out a short stay on Star. In 2015, this family-friendly conference focuses on climate change. Speakers and programs will delve into understanding the science of climate change by looking at not only the environmental impact, but also the social, cultural, economic and political impacts.

Speakers include Steven P. Hamburg, chief scientist of the Environmental Defense Fund; Kate Sheppard, senior reporter and the environment and energy editor at the Huffington Post; Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director of US Climate Action Network; Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Affiliated Professor of Law, and Director of the Animal Studies Initiative at New York University; and Bruce Knotts, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office.

And when you attend any summer conference, including International Affairs, you choose how to spend your day, whether that is listening to a theme speaker in the morning, or taking out a kayak for a turn around Gosport Harbor.

How can you take advantage of a shorter stay on Star for International Affairs?

Attend Wednesday, July 29 to Saturday, August 1- Click Here

Select the three night option.

What you pay per person when you register: A room and board deposit of $100 and a $80 program fee.

You pay the remainder of your room and board on island. What is the remainder? For a shared room: $320/person; For a single room: $425/person.

Youth Program

International Affairs also features a vibrant youth program that provides a week of quality programming that relates to the same weekly theme: climate change. Youth and adults also participate in multi-generanational activities like softball games, a s’mores roast, and talent shows.

Click here to register for youth for International Affairs.

Schedule Released for June 27th Ribbon Cutting Event

June 22nd, 2015


Saturday, June 27th marks the kick-off of our centennial year celebrations with a festive day on Star Island. Here’s the schedule of events! If you are interested in joining us for the day, please purchase a day visitor ticket aboard the M/V Thomas Laighton by clicking here.

This special day for Star Island is a great way to experience the island and learn more about Star’s history and innovative sustainability practices. Bring your own picnic, or purchase lunch from the island grill.


10:30 AM – Board the M/V Thomas Laighton in Portsmouth
11:55 AM – The Laighton arrives at Star Island
Noon – Enjoy your picnic on the front lawn, or purchase lunch from the island grill
12:45 PM – Head to the Front Porch for birthday cake celebrating Star Island’s 100th year
1 PM – Celebrate the ribbon cutting of New England’s largest off-grid solar array
1:30 PM – Learn about Star Island’s innovative sustainability initiatives during a brief presentation by Island Manager Jack Farrell
2 PM – Tour Star Island to learn about its fascinating history and see the facilities up close
3 PM – Enjoy the rest of the afternoon by listening to live music on the Front Lawn or visiting the museum in Vaughn Cottage
3:30 PM – Head down to the pier to hop aboard the Thomas Laighton for the return trip back to the mainland
5:00 PM – Arrive in Portsmouth (approximate)

Sustainability Brings Focus to Star Island

April 8th, 2015


When we recently shared information with the press about our upcoming Earth Day event (click here to learn more), we didn’t imagine so many media outlets would pick up the story. But that’s exactly what happened. Check out the following links for stories, and click here to learn more about our Green Gosport Initiative — our program focused on sustainabiliy.

A Solar ‘Microgrid’ On Star Island May Be A Model For The Mainland

New Hampshire Public Radio

Region’s largest off-grid solar array holds out microgrid hope

Nashua Telegraph

Star Island announces completion of solar array

Star Island solar installation to help with energy

Washington Times

How to supply power to an island

Block Island Times

Our sustianability initiatives help us thrive as a summer destination for families, individuals and youth with a variety of programs focused on themes including arts, religion, international affairs, and social justice. Click here to see a list of the summer programs that call a sustainable Star Island home every summer.

Star Island To Announce Completion of Solar Installation At Earth Day Event

March 31st, 2015


This Earth Day – Wednesday, April 22 – the non-profit Star Island Corp. will host an engaging and informative evening with Star Island leaders titled “Going Green”. The public is invited to this presentation on the innovative environmental initiatives underway at Star Island.

Click Here to RSVP

The Earth Day event will be held April 22
At the Discover Portsmouth Center
10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH
5:30 to 7 PM
Refreshments provided
Click Here for Directions

Learn about the island’s new solar installation — New England’s largest off-grid photovoltaic array which will produce an estimated 60% of the island’s energy needs beginning this summer. The event will include a discussion by Star Island Facilities Director Jack Farrell, and Environmental Services Manager Kristen Simard from 6 to 6:30 PM. They will highlight programs for energy and water conservation and reuse.

Living with limited resources, Star Island has made it a priority to reduce energy and water use, collect rain water for use in showers and laundry, capture and reuse heat from generators, minimize waste, and grow a portion of the food for the thousands of guests that vacation on Star Island each summer. Farrell says, “Star Island is a role model for other communities. We are able to make changes and see the results immediately. Our ability to use our limited resources wisely allows us to be an example for others.” Efforts like these have positioned Star Island at the forefront of sustainability practices in New England. Star Island was recently awarded the Island Institute’s prestigious Island Energy Innovation Award for its accomplishments.

“We are excited to demonstrate the many ways Star Island is going green,” says Joe Watts, Star Island’s CEO. “We have invested years to find creative ways of living lightly on our island, and we want to share what we’ve learned with others.” Joe Watts will be available to answer any general questions about Star Island and its summer programs throughout the evening.

The open house will include live music by local singer/songwriter Dan Walker. Enjoy a lime rickey and network with other people interested in energy issues.


“Going Green” is made possible through sponsors Wentworth Greenhouses, CrossCurrent Communications, Five Maples, and the Portsmouth Garden Club.

Star Island is one of the nine Isles of Shoals located six miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. Home to the historic Oceanic Hotel and a fishing village from the 1600’s, a visit to Star Island is a step back in time. The 43 acre island is owned and operated by the nonprofit Star Island Corp. During the summer months, Star Island welcomes families and individuals to explore Star’s rugged beauty for a day or take part in weekly programs with a variety of themes such as spirituality, world affairs, ecology and the arts. Star Island is an all inclusive vacation retreat where guests are encouraged to unplug and connect with each other and nature.


Green Gosport Initiative

Click here to learn more about the sustainable efforts Star Island has undertaken and plans to take through our Green Gosport Initiative.

Hear Our Story

Click here to listen to a report from NH Public Radio about our initiatives.

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Our Mission

Our mission since 1915 is to hold and maintain Star Island and such other property as the Corporation may hold or acquire, as a center for religious, education, and kindred purposes consistent with the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

Our Vision

Our vision is to create on Star Island an environment that frees all who come to renew spiritually, explore matters of consequence, and gain knowledge about the world as it might ideally be.

Contact Star Island

Phone: (603) 430-6272
Fax: (603) 430-6270
Island Phone: (603) 601-0832
Staff Email Address List

Star Island Corporation
Morton-Benedict House
30 Middle Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Get directions to the office

Content © 1999–2015 Star Island Corporation. Clouds photo © Axel Rouvin.
Other photos © their respective owners.