I was born in East Yorkshire, Northern England in 1953 and grew up in and around the city of Hull. Since being a small boy, I was always very interested in the natural world and spent many hours walking in the countryside whenever I could.
Eventually, I trained as a Radio Officer in the British Merchant navy and made about 17 trips around the world, before arriving on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Ibiza in May 1985. Like so many others already living here, I very soon fell in love with the island and decided to make Ibiza my home in 1987, selling my house in North Yorkshire and beginning my new life in this cosmopolitan paradise.
However, after seeing so many beautiful places in the world carelessly destroyed by human economic activity during my travels, I recognised that Ibiza was also being systematically destroyed by ‘mass tourism’, with the usual side effects such as the loss of local traditions and agriculture, plus a massive increase in environmental degradation and general mismanagement of natural resources. So what could this Yorkshireman do to stop the rot, before the paradise I had come to appreciate and to love with all my green heart, turned into yet another ‘lost gem’ in a world which seemed not to care about preserving the wonderful home we were given to enjoy and to pass on to our children?
Having started a new business installing Satellite TV systems, from a small shop in San Antonio during 1988, I began to dream about how I could help save this little island gem from further destruction and founded the local branch of Amics de la Terra during 1989, together with a group of friends sharing similar ideas.
Our first job in this story was to clean 32 beaches on Ibiza and Formentera, as well as get as many members as possible to join the new movement. These were exciting years here on the island, as a few of the locals and more foreigners were also wondering what could be done to improve our chances of saving our unique and by now quite famous island tourist resort from even more careless destruction.
I have to say here, that I also enjoy having parties, celebrating life and dancing into the night, so I was thinking hard how we could somehow preserve our natural heritage while also continuing to profit from our world fame as the ‘International Party Island’, which Ibiza had become since it opened its doors to the ‘nightclub’ scene and became a very economically interesting tourism destination. (Ibiza must be the only place in the world, where there are beach clubs in a protected area, as we have in the Salinas Natural park!)
In 1991, while still president of the local Amics de la Terra group, I discovered a very small abandoned farmhouse in the rolling hills near to San Jose and managed to rent it from the owners for a very reasonable price. This little house and adjoining farm of five and a half hectares, which has been slowly transformed into what we now know as ‘Casita Verde’, is situated on one of the most enchanting parts of Ibiza, with sea views and beautiful nature all around. In 1993 and having left my position as president of FOE, I founded the Casita Verde model ecology centre and began to invite small groups of teenagers along for ‘eco weekends’, while also continuing to expand my satellite business.
From these very humble beginnings, to the present day scene, there have been many ups and downs, but over time, the Casita Verde has become an icon of the local environmental movement here on the island and since a couple of years has had a smaller sister in the mountains of Granada. (see our new website on www.casitaverde.com)
From the day I was born, I have always been a very lucky individual, as well as being a very social animal, so organising meetings, events and parties is in my nature. I am also quite a practical guy and can do many jobs like carpentry, simple construction, plumbing, gardening and electrical installations. This helped me a great deal in those early years, building the first infrastructures for my ‘little green paradise’ in the hills.
I also began to imagine that a much bigger project could be possible for the island and so, in 1999 I designed something called ‘Ibiza Ecolandia’, which would be a commercial eco centre, situated on a large enough piece of land and well connected to the public transport systems of the island. Two years later together with my Japanese wife, we invented the famous ‘Greenheart’ logo and car sticker, which was later to become our main advertising tool during the next years of our environmental journey, both in Ibiza and around the world.
Having participated in three different local political parties during more than thirty years living on the island, I eventually came to the conclusion that we needed to have a more ‘inclusive’ social leadership system, so I invented yet another strategy plan which included the foundation of 15 different legal Associations, or NGO’s within a movement which I have called ‘Ibiza Fènix’ and which uses the beautiful carob tree as a symbol of it’s potential.
We must all have realised by now that the present global socio-political system is failing to meet the needs of the growing population, as we recently experienced with the new ‘Extinction Rebellion’ movement, that started in London and that has now spread to many countries in a very short time. Basically, they claim that unless we change this archaic structure and install something more fair and responsible, we may well be doomed to follow a fatal path of unimaginable pain and suffering, but if we move together and very quickly, this is also entirely avoidable!
Here in Ibiza, some of our main problems are strongly related to the inefficient management of natural resources, like water and good farmland. There are also too many cars here (around 150,000 registered on an island only 40km by 15km). We seem to be using a lot of imported fossil fuels instead of using the thousands of tons of renewable fuel all over our forested areas, which have been progressively abandoned since the beginning of the tourism boom. Our use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power needs to be hugely increased if we are ever to become a sustainable tourism destination, plus we need to radically change the way we get around, using electric vehicles that don’t pollute, as well as making more bike lanes and improving public transport services. For a top class tourism destination, we also seem to have a substantial litter problem, especially during the summer season, when we are invaded by so many uncaring holiday makers, here only to have a big party and not to take care of our natural heritage. We have sewage going onto our beaches every time we have heavy rains, as the existing systems become overloaded and we are not doing very well with our waste recycling, despite the efforts made by local authorities. In my opinion, the production of local ecological food supplies needs to become a major goal for the island’s population, in case of future cuts in external supplies due to climate change or economic collapse. Lastly, we have a housing crisis, due to over inflated prices and there are many homeless people begging in the streets.
The truth is, that there is a lot of work to be done and not so much time to do it, if the recent reports from the UN are anything to go by.
However, with all the new ecological movements awakening on our little island during the last few years, it’s not too much of a wild dream to think of using our international fame in a very positive way. By joining our efforts in a peaceful and synergetic gesture of faith in humankind, we could demonstrate to the rest of the world how we can pull out of the dive and begin to ‘thrive’ on our still beautiful planet Earth.
Maybe this could also be the right moment to build that Ecolandia project, now that we have tested the model for so many years at Casita Verde and I’m sure the Ibiza Fènix would fly much faster if we had such a place on the island!
Of course, the transition towards a better future can only be made possible if ‘everyone’ joins in the effort, so please take this opportunity to improve your personal environmental impact, while we still have time!
A Simple Ecologic Guide to Living
01 This guide will save you money, conserve natural resources and reduce pollution!
02 Choose products made or produced in an environmentally friendly way (not tested on animals, avoid meat full of hormones and antibiotics or things made using underpaid child labour in developing countries). This reduces unnecessary suffering of both animals and people who may have been exploited in the making of the product you are buying.
03 Wherever possible, buy products packed in returnable or at least recyclable containers and with a minimum of packaging material. This reduces consumption of non renewable resources and the introduction of more solid waste into our environment.
04 Avoid buying products containing harmful additives, or which have been contaminated with toxic chemicals during their production. Inform yourself well, this could save your life and the lives of your children!
05 Reduce your consumption of energy, installing energy saving devices (low consumption light bulbs and electrical appliances etc.) wherever possible and don’t leave them switched on when not in use. This saves you money, causes less pollution and helps to conserve natural resources.
06 Use only as much fresh water as you really need, installing water saving devices on taps and showers etc. Also, use eco friendly products for washing, so that waste water may be recycled more effectively. This helps to conserve the Earth’s most precious resource and reduces contamination of our environment.
07 Plan your use of motor-powered transport, reduce your journeys to a minimum and choose economic models which use less fuel and pollute less. This saves you money, reduces congestion of the roads, reduces contamination of the atmosphere and helps to conserve natural resources. It also reduces the shipment of large quantities of petroleum products, with the continuous risk of accidents resulting in huge environmental disasters.
08 Support recycling projects, by separating your rubbish and depositing recyclable materials in their correct containers. This encourages local authorities to continue improving their recycling schemes. It also gives you a good feeling to be doing at least something positive for your environment.
09 Change your bank to an ethical one. This will ensure that your money is not being used to destroy your world or finance things you don’t agree with.
10 Do not ignore your own possibility to help conserve our natural environment by acting in a responsible and ecological way. The actions of each individual, multiplied by the number of people taking the same action is having an enormous effect on our collective future.
11 Do not be frustrated. Just try to live as ecologically as you can.
12 Once you have discovered that the Planet Earth and our natural environment are as much a part of your future life as your own body, you will probably want to do all you can to ensure its survival.