These 4 breathtaking islands have found amazing ways to make their own natural energy.
True
The Wilderness Society

Located off the grid? How about making your own?

Islands are their own little worlds. It's part of their awesomeness. But being cut off from the mainland can also be a serious challenge. Larger land mass means more space and more people ... and that usually means more support for roads, electricity, cable lines, and all the other technological amenities of modern living.

But just because you're surrounded by water doesn't mean you have to be stuck in the Stone Age. In fact, the inconvenience of connecting back to a mainland-based power grid might just provide the motivation to find an alternative solution — like it did for these four islands that found sustainable ways to make their own independent energy.


1. Samsø, Denmark

The island of Samsø is located off the central-east coast of Denmark in the Kattegat sea. It's about 44 square miles in area with a population of around 4,000 people and has been functioning on 100% self-sustainable wind- and biomass-generated electricity since about 2007. In fact, they've reached the point where they're producing so much clean electricity that they're able to export their surplus.

They also have a cool interactive map that shows how their renewable energy system works.

Samsø photo by David Huang/Flickr.

2. El Hierro

Samso used to have support from the Danish government and was connected to the mainland power grid. But the remote island nation of El Hierro wasn't so lucky. An autonomous community of Spain located in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, El Hierro used to ship in diesel fuel from the mainland to power their electric grid.

But in the summer of 2014, they started to break away by constructing a new wind- and water-turbine farm. The $110 million plant is on track to provide 100% of the island's electricity by the end of 2015.

El Hierro photo by Jose Mesa/Flickr.

3. Tokelau

In addition to being the free domain host for my very first personal website back in 2003, the tiny Pacific island of Tokelau (population: 1,400!) also has the distinction of being the first almost-nation to run entirely on solar power.

If we're being technical, Tokelau is still designated as a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand, according to the United Nations. But the installation of this solar grid was actually part of the long-term plan to end Tokelau's dependence on New Zealand and establish themselves as a fully independent and self-governing entity.

Tokelau photo by Cloud Surfer / Wikimedia Commons.

4. Kodiak Island, Alaska

The residential electricity rate in Alaska in June 2015 was nearly the highest in the U.S. and 63% higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Even though places like Kodiak Island were already relying on hydropower for 80% of their electricity, they were still burning millions of gallons of diesel fuel each year.

But with a little help from the Alaska Energy Authority, the second largest island in the United States now gets 99.7% of its energy from wind and hydro. Which, sure, might not be exactly 100%. But considering the fact that their goal was to reach 95% renewable energy by 2020, I'd say 99.7% by 2015 is pretty good. (Alaska as a whole aims to reach 50% renewable energy by 2025.)

Kodiak Island photo by Wanetta Ayers / Wikimedia Commons.

And while these other islands aren't quite there yet, they have plans to become self-sufficient and sustainable by 2050:

Hawaii

In June 2015 — just ahead of President Obama's announcement of the Clean Power Plan — Gov. David Ige of Hawaii committed his island-that's-a-state to achieving the goal of 100% renewable power by 2045. Two months later, they opened the first fully closed-cycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion plant in the U.S.

This is a particularly good idea for Hawaii, which couldn't even harvest its own fossil fuels if it wanted to.

Hawaii photo by Xklaim/Wikimedia Commons.

Marshall Islands

A Pacific island nation in free association with the United States, the Republic of Marshall Islands also released a new plan for an eco-friendly future, starting in the summer of 2015. This tiered plan aims for them to reduce carbon emissions 45% by 2030 with the ultimate goal of achieving zero emissions by 2050.

Marshall Islands photo by Stefan Lins/Flickr.

The country's minister of foreign affairs, Tony de Drum, said it best in the press release announcing this initiative: "Our message is simple: If one of the world's smallest, poorest and most geographically isolated countries can do it, so can you."

Sometimes a little competition is all it takes. Let's hope the rest of the world accepts the challenge.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather
True

Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

While most 10-year-olds are playing Minecraft, riding bikes, or watching YouTube videos, Justin Sather is intent on saving the planet. And it all started with a frog blanket when he was a baby.

"He carried it everywhere," Justin's mom tells us. "He had frog everything, even a frog-themed birthday party."

In kindergarten, Justin learned that frogs are an indicator species – animals, plants, or microorganisms used to monitor drastic changes in our environment. With nearly one-third of frog species on the verge of extinction due to pollution, pesticides, contaminated water, and habitat destruction, Justin realized that his little amphibian friends had something important to say.

"The frogs are telling us the planet needs our help," says Justin.

While it was his love of frogs that led him to understand how important the species are to our ecosystem, it wasn't until he read the children's book What Do You Do With An Idea by Kobi Yamada that Justin-the-activist was born.

Inspired by the book and with his mother's help, he set out on a mission to raise funds for frog habitats by selling toy frogs in his Los Angeles neighborhood. But it was his frog art which incorporated scientific facts that caught people's attention. Justin's message spread from neighbor to neighbor and through social media; so much so that he was able to raise $2,000 for the non-profit Save The Frogs.

And while many kids might have their 8th birthday party at a laser tag center or a waterslide park, Justin invited his friends to the Ballona wetlands ecological preserve to pick invasive weeds and discuss the harms of plastic pollution.

Justin's determination to save the frogs and help the planet got a massive boost when he met legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

At one of her Roots and Shoots youth initiative events, Dr. Goodall was so impressed with Justin's enthusiasm for helping frogs, she challenged the young activist to take it one step further and focus on plastic pollution as well. Justin accepted her challenge and soon after was featured in an issue of Bravery Magazine dedicated to Jane Goodall.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

As it turns out, underdog stories can have cats as the main character.

Purrington Cat Lounge, where "adoptable cats roam freely and await your visit" and patrons can pay a small entry fee for the chance to sip coffee alongside feline friends, boasted legendary adoption rates since its conception in January 2015.


Keep Reading Show less