The Isle of Eigg
The Isle of Eigg is trying to reduce its CO2. We’re doing this in many ways. Have a look at our Best Bits! or carry on reading for details on most everything we’re up to and find out how you can do the same.
We invite you to follow in our Big Green Footsteps.
For too long we have been dependent on fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas. In 2008 Eigg residents decided to make the most of our island’s natural assets and adapt our way of life to depend less on oil and coal.
What we’ve done on Eigg is being repeated across the UK; communities of all sizes are deciding that they too want to make a difference, reduce CO2 and start living lighter on the planet’s finite and dwindling resources.
Our plan has been quite ambitious, and we’re only part way through it. But as with all plans, it’s been a step by step process, each small action adding to the total sum of our achievement.
We think that everyone can take this approach; it’s not all about creating your own green electricity scheme like we have! A few people getting together deciding to do one thing at a time, be that use less electricity or change to a green energy supplier, bulk buy and install loft insulation, grow vegetables together, turn your thermostats down by 1 degree etc etc, doing it together can achieve a lot more than doing things just on your own.
You can do all these things as an individual, but doing it together as a small community is more fun and has much more impact. We think small is beautiful, and it’s much easier to get together as a group of 5, 10 or 50 people than as a whole town, county, or parish. That way you all know each other, can help and egg each other on and celebrate your achievements as you go along.
So follow in Eigg’s Big Green Footsteps one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll be a green island too!
Taking Big Green Footsteps means small carbon footprints.
Here’s what we’ve been doing. Have a look at our links section too and learn what other green islands are doing across the country, and where you can find help and even funding to make it easier for you to do the same.
How are we taking Big Green Footsteps on Eigg?
We’ve got a long way to go, but here are some of the things we’re doing at the moment.
Less fossil fuels, more efficient use of what we use, more insulation, transport alternatives, reducing waste, and growing as much as we can are all part of our approach. We are ambitious to ensure what we do helps to sustain our own future, but also protects the wider world. It is widely accepted that without action our future is uncertain.
Less Fossil Fuel use helps!
We are cutting back on directly burning fossil fuels that create CO2. Until recently, most of our homes and water were heated by coal and oil, and electricity came from generators run on diesel. Now we have our own electricity supply which comes from hydro, wind and solar energy – all renewable.
Burning wood is an option, ideally dry hardwood to burn efficiently. This produces nearly as much heat as coal. We have imported firewood from neighbouring Knoydart for residents to burn instead of coal and are researching the possibility of setting up an island based wood fuel business here.
The sun can be used to heat water instead of fuel. Solar panels are being installed by islanders on three homes on Eigg to test how much less fuel is being burnt, and how much money is saved.
Using diesel in our cars and other transport also produces CO2 emissions; walking, cycling, car sharing and replacing high emission vehicles with more efficient models, reduces them immediately.
Being more efficient with what we use is key.
Our homes are a mixture of traditionally built stone houses, with some new builds and a few caravans. Installing insulation, double glazing, draught proofing, and more efficient stoves or heating systems will make whatever fuel we use go further. This will reduce CO2 emissions and cost us less. With older houses we have to be more inventive, as they are more difficult to insulate than modern buildings. Even putting up thick curtains and draught strips around doors helps, and putting a jacket around the hot water tank saves precious heat from escaping.
We have done an energy survey of all houses on Eigg and are now starting to insulate a number of our houses and community buildings and create a plan for doing more in the future.
We use our electricity wisely. We have set a 5kw maximum use limit for each house and we have a meter (OWL) that tells us our energy use at all times. We have a ‘traffic light’ system which lets us know when renewable sources are low; being careful about what we use at these times means the backup generators rarely have to come on. OWL meters, standby switch off, low energy bulbs, and AAA electrical appliances provide energy savings and make it easy to stay within our 5kw limit.
The Food that we eat
At the moment, most of our food comes from the mainland. More and more of us are growing or rearing our own, sourcing what we need from closer to home, and learning to cook and eat in season. Many grow organically – reducing their reliance on oil based fertilisers and pesticides – working with, rather than against nature.
How do we get about?
Bikes and walking are a popular and healthy option, but for the less mobile and in winter, they’re not always practical. Providing alternatives for how we transport people and supplies to, from, and around Eigg is difficult. Low emission or electric vehicles for island transport is our ambition, as is getting better public transport links and car sharing when we travel to the mainland. We are trying to set up a mainland car club for people living in the Small Isles, Mallaig, Arisaig, Morar, and Knoydart to provide a pool of low emission vehicles for shared use.
We ran a community bus for islanders over the winter and are now trying to establish a year round community transport scheme for the island. The winter bus and other community buildings run on bio-diesel we make on the island, using used chip oil from the ferry.
We offer discount vouchers to holiday visitors to Eigg if they make the journey to Mallaig or Arisaig by public transport, and all island residents have a West Highland Railcard – travelling by train is cheap as well as green!
What about the rubbish?
We compost, reuse, and recycle as much as possible, but what about the rest? Working closely with the Highland Council we’re reducing the number of skip loads of waste leaving Eigg for mainland landfill. This means importing less plastic and other non recyclables in the first place, as well as being innovative about how we deal with what can be composted or recycled here. That’s hard, but we are getting there!
Our Swap Shop is where islanders leave clothes and household goods they no longer need, so others can use them.
Islands Going Green
We hope what we have done will inspire you to do something too. Why not follow in our Big Green Footsteps. Take positive action and make a difference when you get home.
As well as the many events we have here on Eigg for people to learn what action we can take to avert climate change, we want to use the internet to spread the word. We want to share what we’re doing on Eigg with others and encourage everyone to make their own changes to save CO2 through a new website www.islandsgoinggreen.org
TELL YOUR FRIENDS! Just click on the Share button below and share what Eigg’s doing with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, MySpace and more. Go on, you know you want to! xxx