There's more to Norfolk Island There's more to Norfolk Island
Prinke Eco Store

​ Eco-friendly tourism is the latest travel trend, and Norfolk Island is jumping on board. Like many Pacific islands, tourism is the primary industry for this 5 x 8 km destination with a population of around 1800. With pristine white sandy beaches, World Heritage listed convict buildings, and untouched natural beauty, this little island paradise is fast becoming a popular holiday destination, and particularly for eco-minded travellers.

Boomerang Bag volunteers

What is eco-friendly tourism?

Eco-friendly tourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.

Tourism produces at least 5% of the World's carbon emissions.

During peak seasons, the number of weekly visitors to Norfolk Island can result in a 50% increase to the local population which can potentially cause extra waste for the island to deal with.

Norfolk Island was gearing up for one of its busiest years in 2020. With a busy cruise ship schedule and an increased flight schedule, record visitor numbers were predicted. In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced border restrictions and suspended travel to the island for five months. The impact to the island's economy without visitors was harsh, but the impact to the natural environment without visitors was remarkable. Waste volumes were reduced, water supplies recovered, food sources were replenished, and the natural environment flourished as Mother Nature breathed a sigh of relief… and rested!

This rest period provided an opportunity for the island to ponder some very important questions. When travel resumes, how can we improve so that the island is more sustainable? How do we reduce the impact that visitors make to our tiny island? What steps do we take to apply responsible tourism? 

Snorkelling

What is Norfolk Island doing to be an eco-friendly destination?

  • Eliminating Single Use Plastic Bags
  • In 2015, Boomerang Bags was established on Norfolk Island. A dedicated group of volunteers gather every week to create reusable shopping bags from recycled and repurposed fabric donated by the community. The bags are to provide an alternative to plastic bags and are available at many shops. When you have finished using the bag, simply return it to one of the collection stations where volunteers gather them, wash them, and re stock the supplies.

Annually, approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide.

A plastic bag has a working life of only 15 minutes but can sit in landfill for 1,000 years.

  • Eliminating Disposable Plastic Water Bottles
  • The Visitor Information Centre refuse to sell plastic water bottles. Instead, a souvenir stainless steel water bottle is available for only $12.50, and the first water fill is FREE! Or, if you already own a re-usable water bottle, for only $1.00 you can fill your bottle with local filtered chilled water.

More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year.

Over 90% of all seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomachs.

Prinke Eco Store mugs
  • Eliminating Disposable Coffee Cups
  • Prinke Eco-store sells amazing coffee served in ceramic coffee mugs and if you ask for a takeaway you will still get a mug (absolutely no disposable cups at this place). The staff just ask that you return the mug when you next pass by.
  • The Olive Café offers a discount off your coffee if you provide your own takeaway cup. Local artisans at Cottage Pottery create unique pottery travel cups which are a beautiful souvenir keepsake.

14% of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are included, the percentage increases.

  • Reducing and Recycling Waste

Local tourist accommodations are actively involved in reducing and recycling visitor waste. Most accommodations have systems in place where visitors can easily sort and dispose of their waste. Below are just a couple of examples of ways accommodations are making positive changes. Norfolk Island Holiday Homes have set aside a section in each of their homes, providing sorting bins for general waste, recyclable waste and compostable waste. Guests staying at Hibiscus Regal will have their food scraps disposed of in the property's compost system. The compost is then used on the garden - from which guests can help themselves to fresh herbs.

  • Educating future generations

Norfolk Island Central School (NICS) has developed a sustainability group called Enviro-NICS. Their goal is to meet regularly to encourage a more sustainable way of life on Norfolk Island by using less plastic, being aware of recycling options, considering the island's waste situation, and endeavouring to encourage all school students to think more about looking after their island home.

Boomerang bags

What can you do to help?

You want to be a more eco-friendly traveller - so we have put together some practical and easy to achieve tips for environmentally friendly travel when visiting Norfolk Island.

  • You obviously have to fly to get to Norfolk Island, so carbon emissions can't be avoided - but you can opt to reduce your carbon offset when you purchase your airline ticket!
  • Pack lightly. Every kilo counts when flying. The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Pack only what you need - the environment will thank you.
  • When staying in tourist accommodation, act like you would at home – avoid getting clean towels when not necessary, don't have long showers, and remember to turn off TV, lights and air-conditioning when you leave the room.
  • Take a re-useable shopping bag with you when you go to the shops or markets.
  • Eat local produce! On Norfolk Island zero food miles is a way of life, so make sure you choose local produce – it's carbon-friendly!
  • Drink the locally brewed beer! Not only will you enjoy a high-quality ale, but your drink can be low-carbon by cutting down on 'beer mileage.'
  • Say 'no' to single use plastic bottles and coffee cups. Instead, opt for a refillable bottle or mug.
  • Separate your waste! Norfolk Island has three waste streams – general waste, recyclable waste, and organic waste. Please ensure you dispose of your waste into the three separate categories.

Norfolk Island aims to preserve the integrity of the destination with a focus on conserving the local environment and historical heritage, while supporting the culture, and encouraging people to look after the natural resources that attracts them to the island. To ensure this amazing island is preserved for the future, we all must do our part in its protection.

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