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Sustainability Matters - February 2020

A new column by Sandra Benbeniste of IbizaPreservation.

Main picture Jon Izeta for IbizaPreservation

We're really excited to be bringing you our first monthly IbizaPreservation column for Ibiza Spotlight, where we will be looking at the various issues around sustainability that concern both Ibiza and Formentera, from single-use plastics and water use, to helping people choose spots that support local farmers and much more.

As more and more travellers choose these islands as a holiday destination - more than three million last year - the impact on our resources has become a growing concern. Ibiza has fewer than 150,000 official residents, and while the economic benefits of tourism are undeniable, it's clear we need to do more to protect our precious land and sea.

Sustainability initiatives

Sandra Benbeniste, IbizaPreservation's executive director bringing you the organisation's first column on Ibiza Spotlight

None of this is to say that we want visitors to stop coming. Far from it. But we at IbizaPreservation are working to find ways to help our beloved islands grow in a more sustainable way. With travellers these days a lot more concerned about environmental impact, we want to be able to support and inspire you to take positive actions when coming to Ibiza and Formentera.

We also want to inspire people all around the world, so that the two islands become models of sustainability; where our natural resources are well-managed, and future generations of visitors and residents alike can continue to prosper from all this beautiful part of the Balearics has to offer.

We are lucky to live in a moment where many businesses understand the importance of protecting the environment and are keen to take active steps to become more sustainable in their practices. With the help of our corporate partners, which include several local hotels and restaurants, we have been able to raise funds to support a number of key initiatives.

Going plastic free

A recent study by IbizaPreservation's Sustainability Observatory showed that Ibiza generated half a tonne of waste per person in 2018. That's 14% higher than anywhere else in Europe and a 25% increase on the amount we produced in 2010. EU-wide targets are supposed to reduce waste by 10% by 2020, so it's clear we need to reverse that.

Like in many other parts of the world, plastics are a big part of our waste problem. Plastic Free Ibiza & Formentera, a movement we created with more than 25 organisations, is working with local administrations and businesses to try to phase out single-use plastics, with the aim of eliminating them entirely by 2023.

More than 100 companies have already signed up to our “Plastic Free” certification process: one star means a business has got rid of three single-use plastic items; two stars shows they have removed 50%; while three stars signals they are 100% plastic free. Look for the certificates on display around the islands.

Water pressure

An additional pressure point is the limited amount of fresh water on the islands. Our charming corner of the earth experiences around 300 days of sunshine per year, which is fantastic for sun-seeking tourists, but not so good for our water reserves. Ibiza's underground reservoirs, or aquifers, are extremely depleted, meaning that, even during the low-season, we are reliant on desalination plants for our water supply. And come August, when we hit peak consumption, the three plants we have on the island just aren't enough to meet the increased demand.

Visitors can help by being mindful about their water consumption, for example by cutting down on shower time, turning off the tap while brushing teeth, or doing laundry less often. It may not seem a lot, but every little helps.

Posidonia protection

Picture: Manu San Felix for IbizaPreservation

Another of our projects focuses on better protecting our treasured Posidonia, or seagrass, which is what helps to keep the Balearic waters so clear and turquoise. Some of the meadows here are more than a thousand years old and the area is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site; however, pollution and uncontrolled boat anchoring are destroying them. By better educating people about the crucial role Posidonia plays in our ecosystem, we hope to preserve it for many thousands of years to come.

Be part of the change

These are just some of the examples of the kinds of initiatives IbizaPreservation is working on – and we'll have more information and advice on how you too can be part of the change in this column over the coming months.

You can find out more by going to the IbizaPreservation website and also making a donation towards its work. You can also follow the organisation on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

WORDS | Sandra Benbeniste, executive director, IbizaPreservation

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