I have always tried my best to live a sustainable life. In the back of my mind sustainability has been something I am always conscious of; I have always tried to be conservative with my resources. This was before I had the opportunity to live at The Island School in Cape Eleuthera. Eleuthera is a long but thin island 50 miles east of Nassau in the Bahamas. It is 110 miles long and only 1 mile wide, with a whale tail shape at its southern end. At the tip of this tail is school that lives life a little differently than most.
The Island School focuses on modeling sustainable living while creating a strong sense of community to utilize all the people and resources that surround it. They do this in a smart and conservative manner. All of their education programs including high school semesters, gap years, summer terms, and other short term programs are all taught with the philosophy that the classroom door is always open. It is very rare that a class is held inside, most work and learning is all done in the field with hands on experience.
The Island School prepares you and teaches each student just how amazing it can be to not only learn about living sustainably but practice doing it right on campus. The completely green campus allows each student to live exactly what they are learning, the campus is designed to minimize ecological footprint while getting water and energy in only natural ways. This is done so with solar panels, solar hot water heaters, and wind turbines. Therefore when it isn’t sunny you aren’t getting a hot shower, and when the wind dies down the shower might not work. Just these two aspects alone quickly became things that I realized I took advantage of prior to my time in Eleuthera. Although I always tried to be conservative with the length of my shower, I didn’t really know what a short shower was before my time here. Living this way taught me to not only be grateful of the resources that I have access to everyday but to not take them for granted.
The campus also has a biodiesel production plant which allows all campus cars and boats to run on biodiesel. This eliminates pollution as biodiesel is from natural oils such as vegetable oils and animal fats that are recycled and then used to run the vehicles. The cisterns on campus collect rainwater which is then filtered and used throughout various areas of campus. The other sustainable systems at The Island School consist of the aquaponics which provide the dining hall with delicious leafy greens, the beautiful gardens on campus are fertilized naturally, and the animals on campus (pigs, goats, chickens, and ducks) only eat scraps from the dining hall.
The other amazing thing that the Island School does besides teach and practice sustainable living to students on campus is implementing the sustainable systems to the rest of the Bahamas and communities around them. This is a work in progress as you can imagine, it takes time to make these big changes. What is most important is that change is happening and other communities are aware of the importance of minimizing our ecological footprint.
After three months spent in Eleuthera, I left with an entire different perspective on the environment and sustainable living. There is a big difference between learning about the small daily changes you can make to help the environment and actually doing them and living that way everyday. I learned very quickly that paper towels and napkins were just a waste, at Island School your hands air dry because that is the sustainable way. Trash cans did not exist because we were not supposed to be generating trash. In fact the word trash is not really in the Island Schools vocabulary. Everything was recycled and somehow used as something else somewhere on campus. Living this sustainable way teaches you so much about yourself and the natural resources around you. If anyone is thinking about implementing small personal changes to live more sustainable, I highly suggest it. It is not only a step in the right direction for our environment and future, but it is a way to challenge yourself and learn all at the same time.