Juist unplugged: A role model for sustainability

When it comes to sustainability, some could take a leaf out of the book of the North Sea island Juist. The island is to become climate-neutral by 2030 – an ambitious project that equally involves residents and tourists. Since 2017, the tourist administration has been offering a two-hour bicycle tour, accompanied by sustainability expert Thomas Vodde, as part of the climate protection project “Climate Island Juist”. We joined the tour and gained some insights into topics such as biodiversity, waste disposal and mobility. Here is what we learned on the “Juist unplugged” bicylce tour.

Explore biodiversity on the nature trail

We start at the Otto Leege nature trail in the middle of the dunes, where the sustainability expert shows us the amazing diversity of fauna and flora on the North Sea island of Juist. 25 percent of the vegetation of Germany grows on Juist and 20 percent of the animal species living in Germany can be found on the island. For example, it is home to about 71 different bird species.

Discover Juist’s flora and fauna on the Otto Leege nature trail © Greg Snell

An island with a smart supply system

At the next stop we take a look behind the scenes of the drinking water supply: The waterworks on Juist ensure a self-sufficient water supply, as a freshwater lens is located below the island, comparable to a natural cistern, supplying the entire island with fresh water.

In the port of Juist © Juist

Around the island with horsepower

At the port we learn that traffic on the island contributes to achieving the 2030 climate target, which seems quite contradictory at first glance. However, on Juist horse-drawn carriages are used for all kinds of mobility – be it for the transport of people or goods or even for garbage collection. Cars are only used in emergencies (fire department, ambulances, etc.); this prevents large amounts of emissions every year. The island also uses solar energy to heat the public swimming pool and regularly measures its carbon footprint to achieve its climate target.

Contributing to climate protection with horse-drawn carriages © Juist

Well organized for the future

Most certainly, only very few travellers see the garbage station of their holiday destination. But that’s exactly where the bike tour takes us. Especially in crowded tourist spots, there is a lot of garbage. A well-organized waste disposal is therefore indispensable! In addition, it is planned to use only recyclable coffee-to-go cups in the future so that the raw materials can be reused.

Not only humans benefit from environmental protection on Juist © Greg Snell

Happy islanders, happy tourists

Sustainability also means respect for people. Therefore the residents’ happiness is particularly important to the community of Juist. Tourism is essential on the island, above all financially, but the inhabitants should also feel at home in the long run. That is why the residents of Juist come first – for, if they are happy, this also has a positive effect on the tourists. Keep your eyes open for the date when “Juist unplugged” starts again and enjoy the bicycle tour across Germany’s probably most sustainable island during your next holiday on Juist.

Cyclists are welcome on the island © Greg Snell

Cover picture: © Juist