Hydra Island Toward Sustainability

I absolutely loved Hydra, it was like no place I’ve ever visited, and was so cool to be able to see. The lack of cars made the island feel secluded, safe and almost a taste of the past. Not to mention a healthier lifestyle that I think should definitely be implemented in the US. My favorite thing about where I live in Charleston is by far the fact that I can walk anywhere I need to go. With cafes right outside my apartment and campus just a short walk away, it seems like the ideal situation at least for myself. Yet, with all the beauty of the island, I left with some unanswered questions. I wondered about those working on the island, what life is like there, are there schools, affordable housing, regular supermarkets, reliable healthcare. And the list goes on. How does an island that relies on often single day tourism operate? With no major hotel chains and the difficulty that comes with transportation, below the surface, I wondered how this island was operating. Especially considering how much tourism booms in the summer, and dwindles out in the off months in Greece. Even while we were there, it wasn’t peak tourism, and it wasn’t super warm yet. So with beaches being a main attraction of this island, you have to wonder how they survive during those other 3 seasons where tourists aren’t flocking to the beach. 


With that being said, while this car-less situation seems ideal on the surface, not so much when you look deeper. While the streets are clear and safe for all those who roam, the trash buildup is an issue. With only 2 garbage trucks, taking garbage to be burned. Not only are toxins being released into the air, but trash is building up months and months behind. Additionally, the sewage water is just being dumped right back into the beautiful ocean every night. 


And while beautiful and dream-like, the logistics of keeping a town like this afloat is nothing to gawk at. Quite literally, nearly everything is brought in by boat day after day. Which really makes you wonder, is the island really as sustainable as it appears on the surface? While cars are nothing to call sustainable, I wonder if a more self-sufficient economy could limit some of the time and energy used from transporting goods back and forth from other mainland islands. They even go so far as to run all their power from an outside source, which can result in catastrophic shutdowns, affecting the entire island.

Industrial Symbiosis in Greece – Paige K Breen

In more recent years, more and more emphasis has been put on environmental management of industrial activities and environmental care by our scientific community. The current approach being taken towards industrial symbiosis is defined as “pollution prevention” This approach describes the use of materials, processes, or practices that decrease the creation of waste at the source. This approach kind of reminds me of the circular economy in a way. They’re doing all they can to almost diminish waste.

Industrial symbiosis is actually when two or more companies exchange their waste product with the other companies, and they use it as materials for new products. This process eliminates waste and even boosts creativity. Like I’ve said, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” One downside to this is that there is a concern about supply. Waste is such an odd factor that people don’t usually consider. There’s not always the same amount or the same kind. For example, my friend and I go to a restaurant, and both order a ceasar salad and french fries. I finish my salad but not my fries, and she finishes her fries but not her salad. We both have waste, but it’s different kinds and separate amounts.


The article given analyzed several case studies regarding industrial symbiosis in Greek industry. The total number of case studies is recorded at several thousand. Each of these case studies presented simple, practical difficulties. It is believed that all businesses practicing industrial symbiosis have been documented.  Forty- five different types of waste were identified and documented during this experiment. Waste was dispersed into seven separate categories during the experiment. This was based on their physical characteristics and the industry sector they originated from. The categories were: thermal energy, fuels, metals, plastics, chemicals, minerals and organics. There was some overlap when deciding which category fits best for the waste, but ultimately it did not affect the overall result of this study. The spatial scale of the waste exchange can also be more separated into a few different levels. These levels include Industrial Park (IP), Local (LOC), Regional (REG), National (NAT), and Global (GLO).


The results of this study are very extensive and go into much detail, but to sum it up, waste was typically exchanged at the same levels. For example, an Intellectual Property would exchange with a local because they’re both smaller scale levels. It also described how beneficial industrial symbiosis can be when trying to eliminate waste.



US Embassy/ACG Office of Sustainability Speaker Presentations

The ACG Office of Sustainability presentation that we had in class was very enlightening and informative. The guest speaker had a lot to say about the sustainability practices at ACG and even gifted us reusable wooden cutlery sets! She also mentioned what her job entails as an employee in the Office of Sustainability and the sustainability “trends” she has observed and witnessed on campus. As a school with many international students, like ourselves, it was interesting to hear her perspective on how the congregation of students from all over the world at ACG impacts the levels and types of sustainability practices that she regularly encounters.


The guest speakers that we had from the US Embassy were such a pleasure to hear from. I absolutely loved learning about their unique jobs and the plethora of differing tasks that they may have to accomplish on a daily basis. I’ll admit that I knew next to nothing about working as a diplomat or in the US Embassy previous to their coming in to talk with us. However, I can now confidently say that they peaked my interest and made me realize that there are more “nontraditional” ways to utilize my future business degrees. I also thought it was interesting that a diplomat’s job can range from ordering bullet-proof glass to posing as a stand-in for the President of the United States to naming the best cow in Greece (or something along those lines, I can’t quite remember her exact story). It was really helpful to hear about the diplomat’s varied past and how she came to be in her current position. Additionally, hearing her tips about applying for jobs and using keywords when submitting online applications so that you do not get immediately filtered out was incredibly beneficial. It was also impressive to hear her stories about her previous living experiences and conditions in the other countries that she had been posted and to have her compare and contrast them with her current situation in Greece. She really gave an in-depth description of every aspect of life as a US diplomat. Furthermore, I also enjoyed hearing from the other two ladies about their business backgrounds and previous jobs and how their roles have both changed and stayed the same now that they work in the US Embassy. All in all, I had never considered working in the US Embassy as a possible career path, but now I do.