6 Inspiring Eco-Friendly Initiatives from the Small Island of Sardinia
Guest writer for Wake Up World
Despite being a relatively small island in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia’s natives are proving very enterprising when it comes to environmental protection. Immediately translating into a higher quality lifestyle, a more sustainable economy means cleaner air, lush vegetation and healthier and safer produce. Last but not least, since food plays a pivotal role in Italian society, eco-friendly initiatives are thriving all around the country.
Here are six of the main ones in the region of Sardinia.
1. Ischìda, an eco-friendly lifestyle
Nicola Pirina and Pierluigi Merlin are the founders of Ischìda, a company focused on innovation and sustainability. A 360-degree sustainability, actually. Their office is 100 per cent eco-friendly: they use renewable energy, such as wind power and photovoltaic system, and paper, recycled by a non-profit organization in the same city, only when strictly necessary.
Not only do Nicola and Pierluigi lead an eco-friendly life, they have also created their company around this concept: they provide other companies with consulting services, planning and elaboration of sustainable projects aimed at local development, with the goal to inspire and boost local economy according to these principles.
The very first point is to increase awareness towards environmental issues through adopting facilities and trends that prove sustainable in the daily routine. “This is how we founded Movirìndi,” says Nicola, “a project aimed at encouraging sustainable mobility in all of Sardinia offering practical solutions on how to reach full eco-mobility and the reduction of environmental and noise pollution.” All materials used to build their electric cars are recyclable, batteries included, they recharge in a night-time and with one euro they can run for 50 km.
Ischìda is active also in the real estate sector, by building houses immersed in nature, in respect of their natural surroundings and with self-produced and totally renewable energy supplies.
They have been working with local and international clients, always ready to help towards more sustainable alternatives in the hope to “give to future generations a better world than the one they found.”
Their website www.ischida.it
2. Ciclofficina Sella del Diavolo, DIY repair shop
This young machine shop, set in Sardinia’s main city and named after the beautiful neighboring areaSella del Diavolo (literally Evil’s Saddle), is aimed at repairing bikes. Put like this, it’s nothing special, but the Ciclofficina aims at promoting the use of bikes by teaching citizens how to repair it, maintain it, recycle broken parts and share knowledge and experiences.
“Our philosophy,” says Enrico Casini, president and co-founder of Cicloffina, “is to promote as much as we can the knowledge around the bicycle, be it technical, theoretical, philosophical, poetic and much more.”
How does it work? The backyard given to the association is open to the public every Tuesday evening for three hours, and every week is packed with people repairing their bikes and sharing tools and tips. “Everything is based on an equal and mutual exchange,” says Enrico.
The benefits of this initiative are twofold. Socially, it encourages citizens to recycle, share in a non-profit philosophy and create a stronger community. Environmentally, it inspires citizens to use alternative means of transport, carbon-free and much cheaper. “The more people use the bike,” goes on Enrico, “the more our politicians will have to consider it in their policies.”
Their website http://www.ciclofucina.it
3. S’Edera, natural soap from Mediterranean plants
Native from the small village of Urzulei, in the wild region of Barbagia, S’Edera was founded by Raffaele Bangoni, his mother and his sister with the goal of producing a completely natural cosmetic range.
Raffaele is a herbalist, and while at the beginning they used to buy all raw materials from other companies, now they have started producing extracts and essential oils in-house. Furthermore, by using his knowledge, he now wants to create a farming business to grow medicinal herbs with the aim of making them an unlimited resource in the respect of the local environment.
“With modernity,” told me Raffaele, “society has gone through major changes that are pushing us away from our spontaneous relation with the earth and its natural products, so now we are here to rediscover this aspect of our past.”
This is how Raffaele and his family have started making soaps using typical Mediterranean plants such as lentischio, traditionally used to heal injuries and for its restructuring properties, elicriso from the Supramonte mountain range, anti-inflammatory and used in case of psoriasis and wind- and sun-rash, and myrtle, with soothing and antibacterial properties.
“We have always used natural remedies in my family and village,” goes on Raffaele. “I would like to preserve and share this tradition.”
Their website http://www.s-edera.eu
4. Agriturismo Archelao, sustainable tourism in the heart of Sardinia
Apart from being a place where you can find all the peace and relax you will be looking for in your next holiday, Agriturismo Archelao approaches the sensitive issue of ethical and sustainable tourism 360 degrees.
The products they offer to their customers and guests in their restaurant and guesthouse are all made inside the farm, from the fruits to the vegetables, from the meat to the cheese, from the cakes to the jams, from the olives to the oil.
They grow all typical plants and trees, they breed all local animals, strictly fed with the grains produced in-house, and soon they will also have their own electricity supply, obtained with a photovoltaic system for which they’re only waiting for the official approval by the authorities, and the fuel for their machines made with particular seeds. All this with the aim of being 100 per cent self-sufficient, producing quality food and avoiding unnecessary pollution by transporting raw materials from afar.
Tourists are welcome to participate in the farming life by helping, trying, learning how natural cycles work or even just enjoying a reconnection with nature.
Their website www.agriturismoarchelao.it
5. Lara, eco-friendly beer made in Sardinia
In line with eco-friendly initiatives aiming at reducing transport costs and pollution, Francesca Lara’s and Gianni Piroddi’s brewery Lara produces natural, not-pasteurized, not-filtered, preservative-free beer.
“Homemade” beer is the product chosen by conscious consumers because it’s selected, all ingredients are manually picked and always of the best quality, young, consumed within twelve months, diet as it contains less calories than a soft drink but more vitamins and antioxidants, and original as, not being an industrial product, you will never find one identical to the other.
Beer is obtained by the combination of four ingredients, water, barley, hops and yeast, and Gianni and Francesca’s next mission is to make a completely self-produced drink, with all ingredients made in house. They already grow the grains and they are working on producing hops and yeast.
Their website http://www.birralara.it
6. Spugne Vegetali, natural beauty from Asia to Sardinia
Laura’s and Marcello’s original business, Spugne Vegetali, was created almost by mistake, after Marcello was commissioned to grow a hectare of luffa, also spelled loofah, that was never claimed back nor paid for.
Native from Asia, this subtropical vine has found a natural habitat in Sardinia. Soft and edible when fresh, it becomes spongy once ripe. Laura and Marcello make cushions, pot holders, bean bag chairs, but especially sponges for the house or for personal care.
The production is 100 per cent bio as no chemical is used: Laura makes it by using only water, scissors and a sewing machine. The sponge is entirely made with natural and biodegradable fibers, it can be washed in the washing machine together with our laundry, it doesn’t retain soap, it rinses off easily and dries quickly. Ideal for personal care, it’s a gentle scrub perfect to remove dead cells and stimulate blood circulation by massaging. The principle is simple: rely on nature to take care of ourselves and be grateful to the earth by not using aggressive products.
Their website http://www.spugnevegetali.it