Green Practices

For centuries, living on Star Island has required a knowledge of conservation and respecting the environment. Since 2011, we have taken a more proactive approach to this with the Green Gosport Initiative — a program designed to educate our island and mainland communities about sustainability, and to serve as a model for others. The efforts we make on island are sometimes huge (we recently installed a solar array), but often are relatively easy to accomplish. Here are some of the things we do on Star to reduce our impact locally while thinking globally. We’ve included suggestions about how you can take what we do on the island and practice it on the mainland.

 

Reuse

Star Island: Everything carried to the island needs to be carried off, unless it can be turned into something useful. Therefore, we seriously consider how we can reuse items on-island before trashing or recycling them. For example, several years ago we collected used glass bottles to line the beds in our vegetable gardens. We also reuse historic furniture and replace small parts instead of replacing entire fixtures. We also reuse food waste to create compost, which in turn helps to grow more food.

Mainland: Instead of throwing something away, ask yourself if you can reuse it. Some simple things to reuse include plastic sandwich bags for more sandwiches, shopping bags as trash bags, and newspaper for kindling or wrapping paper. Random bits of plastic from everyday products and toys might also be great sources for a rainy day art project. And to help you stay hyrdated, use a water bottle to refill instead of buying new bottled water.

Recycle

Star Island: When you can’t reuse, recycle. We send metal, glass and paper off island to get recycled if we can’t reuse it.

Mainland: Most municipalities have curbside recycling, and we encourage you to take advantage of this easy way to recycle. Also, if you’re ever out and about and need to dispose of something (paper coffee cup, plastic drink bottle), check to see if it is recyclable and find a proper receptacle instead of trashing by default.

Use Renewable Energy

Star Island: In the fall of 2014 we installed a solar array on Star that will provide an estimated 60% of our energy needs starting during the 2015 summer. We’re not fully running on solar power, but this renewable energy source is our focus moving forward.

Mainland: Installing solar panels on your home allows you to take advantage of sustainable energy and excess, unused energy can even be backfed into the larger electrical grid. Not only are you taking a step to reduce carbon emissions, but you could also be saving money.

Turn Off Lights

Star Island: We turn the lights off whenever possible. Although lights are left on in certain public spaces such as walkways, hallways, and the main lobby for safety, for the most part the island goes dark at night. We even rely entirely on candlelight for evening chapel services. On Star we’re swapping outdated bulbs (incandescents) for more efficient LEDs, and considering sensors for lights in areas that don’t need to be lit when no one’s using them at night (bathrooms, hallways, walkways). Fewer lights means less electricity, reducing the need to use as much diesel to support the solar array.

Mainland: If you’re the last one leaving a room, turn the light off; installing automatic switches can be helpful if you’re apt to forget. Also, question if you really need the light on-daylight is often just fine. Fewer lights means less electricity, which may even reduce your electric bill.

Use Energy Efficient Equipment

Star Island: Replacing equipment with more efficient models has allowed us to reduce demands on our island’s infrastructure. A recent example is the purchase of a new dishwasher, which uses less power during operation and also uses less water. Less water used means less drinking water treated and less used water sent to the island’s wastewater treatment facility. This leaves more water available for other uses, such as guest showers. Water and wastewater treatment are also two of the three biggest electrical uses on-island, so this energy and water efficient dishwasher means an overall reduction in energy use. On Star we’re also swapping outdated bulbs (incandescents) for more efficient LED’s.

Mainland: Replace household appliances with those receiving Energy Star rating. Energy Star products are “certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality.” This rating helps you choose household equipment that can help realize energy savings. Click here to learn more.

Grow Your Veggies

Star Island: Over the past few years we’ve been generating more produce from the several vegetable gardens on island. This produce supplements the food we order from the mainland. By growing our own food, we are also able to eat fresher, more nutritious food and also reduce the cost of our food bill.

Mainland: Just like a 1940’s victory garden, growing a portion of your own food is a great cause. You are stating that you want to know where your food comes from, and you’re choosing varieties of produce you like. Having your own food in your yard, or in a planter on your porch might also mean less trips to the grocery store.

Eat Your Veggies

Star Island: We know that eating your vegetables isn’t just good for your body, it can be good for the environment, too. Every meal on Star includes a vegetarian option. When you register, just let us know you’ll be choosing the vegetarian option. And while we have your attention, why not consider making your stay on Star a chance to try out being a vegatarian? You’ll still get your protein and iron, don’t worry. Want to learn more? Click here to read about the effects of cattle farming on the environment.

Mainland: Try practicing a vegetarian diet. You might find your grocery bill to be lower than usual, and you might find some awesome recipes that you’ll keep forever. If switching to a vegetarian diet is a bit too much, we suggest trying “Meatless Mondays” as a way to incorporate meals one day a week that are less intenstive on the environment. Click here if you’d like some vegetarian inspiration or click here for vegan inspiration for meals.

Compost Food Waste

Star Island: Everything carried to the island needs to be carried off, unless it can be turned into something useful. We separate food waste from trash and compost this to transform it into a beneficial commodity that helps improve island soil in gardens and on the lawn. Chickens also help by eating leftovers such as bread, oatmeal, and mashed potatoes (they love vegetarian pot pie!). Composting food waste helps reduce demands on island boats and provides the island with a reusable product.

Mainland: A small compost bin is easy to use and maintain for household scraps. You can build your own, or check with your town/municipality to see if they participate in a program that offers compost bins for a reduced cost. By composting you reduce the amount of waste that is thrown into landfills. Some municipalities are even starting to collect compost along with trash and recycling. We encourage you to investigate your mainland options including companies that collect compost for you.

Take Fewer, Shorter Showers

Star Island: If you’ve stayed on Star Island you know that we have a shower schedule that provides 3 showers for both staff and guests over a 7-day period. We limit showers because water on-island is hard to come by. Yes, there’s plenty of salt water nearby, but fresh water isn’t readily available (recall the Rime of the Ancient Mariner: Water, water everywhere and not one drop to drink). Fresh water is provided through reverse osmosis of sea water, filtration and disinfection of collected rainwater, and water delivery by boat (i.e. a lot of work).

Mainland: An every other day shower schedule isn’t just something to practice for water conservation, it’s also recommended for your skin and hair health. Click here for some fun information.

Plan Your Errands

Star Island: We run a boat back and forth to the mainland most days of the week, and we recognize the cost of doing so both environmentally and economically. By planning our boat schedule accordingly, we eliminate unnecessary or redundant trips and reduce the number of times we need to go back and forth. This means less diesel to power the boat.

Mainland: When you have errands to do, make one long trip out of it instead of several. Going back and forth from your home is less efficient time wise, but also uses more gasoline if you’re driving. This requires planning, but we know you can do it. You plan to come to Star Island, right?

Walk

Star Island: Walking is how we get around on Star Island. Aside from a few freight trucks used to move heavy objects around the island (like luggage, or trash), people get from A to B by walking. This provides exercise, but also means that we are not using carbon-based fuels for transportation. Walking is an easy way to get where you’re going on island, even if it requires three flights of stairs. The only time we don’t suggest walking on island is if you’re late for a boat, then try running.

Mainland: We recognize that walking isn’t always the most practical form of transportation on the mainland, but we encourage you to think about where you can walk. If you live near your city center, why not walk to go out to eat instead of drive? Or, if you’re driving to a shopping center, park once and walk to several stores instead of driving to each one. Walking takes time, yes, but it’s well worth it. Studies have even suggested walking promotes creativity: click here to learn more.

Make Informed Purchases

Star Island: We make purchases mindfully and consider several factors: do we need this item? Is this item energy efficient/environmentally friendly? What’s the quality, will this item last? Are we supporting another local organization? Sometimes we seek alternatives. For example, we mix vinegar and baking soda together for an all-purpose cleaner and use vinegar to wash windows and mirrors instead of glass cleaner. Also, we consider packaging when purchasing: is the product packaged in bulk? Can we reuse or recycle the packaging?

Mainland: When you’re shopping, think about what you need instead of what you want. You might miss the latest cellphone craze, but you’ll still be able to text and call people, right? Shop second hand. Purchase in bulk and reuse containers (for example: use canning jars to purchase and store dry goods such as coffee, popcorn, oats, and rice among others). Also, consider paper bags instead of plastic bags when making purchases. Or, remember to use a reusable bag or opt out if you’re only purchasing a few items.

Comfort Level

Everywhere: Do what makes sense for you. Don’t walk 50 miles to work when taking public transportation makes more sense. And if you don’t have a yard, growing a garden will be rather difficult. We encourage you to make choices that you are comfortable with, but also to ask yourself if you can do more to make a sustainable impact in your life and for your community. Be creative. Have fun. Go Green!

Hear Our Story

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