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Why This Great Barrier Reef Eco Resort Is A Green Machine

From banning single-use water bottles to generating 80% of its own energy, Queensland's Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort strives to leave a very small footprint.

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This is the Great Barrier Reef. You may have heard of it. You know, one of Australia's most famous and incredible natural wonders. The largest living structure on Earth. The thing so big you can actually see it from space. Ringing any bells?

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What you may not have heard of is Lady Elliot Island. It's the southernmost island of the Great Barrier Reef, about 80km northeast of Bundaberg. It's not too far from Queensland's Fraser Island, and you can only get there on a charter flight aboard a small plane.

Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is the sole accommodation provider on the island, and allows guests to enjoy a memorable holiday while helping to protect dear old Mother Nature.
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Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is the sole accommodation provider on the island, and allows guests to enjoy a memorable holiday while helping to protect dear old Mother Nature.

1. It assists in looking after the Great Barrier Reef.

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef for yourself is undeniably incredible. Although the scale of coral damaged by bleaching is disputed, there is no doubt that global warming is taking a serious toll on the reef. But there is hope, which is why Lady Elliot Eco Resort does as much as it can to protect its local environment. Upon arrival on the island there is a welcome and introductory briefing. With mocktail in hand we're told about the island's rules, including no fishing and no taking anything home.
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Seeing the Great Barrier Reef for yourself is undeniably incredible. Although the scale of coral damaged by bleaching is disputed, there is no doubt that global warming is taking a serious toll on the reef. But there is hope, which is why Lady Elliot Eco Resort does as much as it can to protect its local environment.

Upon arrival on the island there is a welcome and introductory briefing. With mocktail in hand we're told about the island's rules, including no fishing and no taking anything home.

2. It doesn't sell bottled water.

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The resort follows the motto "reduce, reduce, and recycle". It is the first island in the Great Barrier Reef to stop selling single-use bottled water.

Don't worry, you won't suffer from dehydration like Tom Hanks' character in Castaway — there's plenty of drinking water available, and the resort sells "eco warrior" drink bottles for use during your stay.

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3. The island runs mostly on solar power.

In 2007 resort management looked into renewable energy alternatives. In 2017, 80% of the island's energy came from the sun.The main solar power station was completed in 2008, and has 128 panels. This has helped reduce the resort's diesel usage from 500 litres a day to less than 100 litres.
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In 2007 resort management looked into renewable energy alternatives. In 2017, 80% of the island's energy came from the sun.

The main solar power station was completed in 2008, and has 128 panels. This has helped reduce the resort's diesel usage from 500 litres a day to less than 100 litres.

4. The resort is reintroducing native trees to the island.

One thing you learn on Lady Elliot Island is that there are A LOT of birds. Fun fact — bird shit can actually make a pretty valuable fertiliser called "guano". During the 1800s Lady Elliot Island was heavily mined for its guano, leaving it pretty barren. A lot of the trees that were consequently replanted actually weren't native to the island. But that is now changing.The resort has its own "nursery" and in the last year planted over 1,000 native trees.
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One thing you learn on Lady Elliot Island is that there are A LOT of birds. Fun fact — bird shit can actually make a pretty valuable fertiliser called "guano".

During the 1800s Lady Elliot Island was heavily mined for its guano, leaving it pretty barren. A lot of the trees that were consequently replanted actually weren't native to the island. But that is now changing.

The resort has its own "nursery" and in the last year planted over 1,000 native trees.

5. Carbon emissions are offset.

OK, we admit it. Getting to Lady Elliot by plane doesn't seem like the most environmentally-friendly thing that ever existed. That's why the resort started a carbon offset program. The emissions caused by flights to and from the island are offset by planting native forests at Bundaberg's Barolin Nature Reserve.
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OK, we admit it. Getting to Lady Elliot by plane doesn't seem like the most environmentally-friendly thing that ever existed.

That's why the resort started a carbon offset program. The emissions caused by flights to and from the island are offset by planting native forests at Bundaberg's Barolin Nature Reserve.

6. The boats have propeller-free motors.

All the resort's boats have been fitted with engines designed to be more environmentally-friendly than traditional engines. Propeller-free, they lessen any impact on the reef, and allow the boats into very shallow waters.
Lady Elliot Island

All the resort's boats have been fitted with engines designed to be more environmentally-friendly than traditional engines. Propeller-free, they lessen any impact on the reef, and allow the boats into very shallow waters.

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7. Waste water is reused.

The resort treats all waste water. The water is recycled and used on the island's air strip.
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The resort treats all waste water. The water is recycled and used on the island's air strip.

8. Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow...

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While 80% of the resort's energy currently comes from the on-island solar farm, the aim is that by 2020 it will be running 100% entirely on renewable energy. The plan is for the remaining 20% to be generated by wind power. Being an island in the middle of the ocean, shouldn't be too much of a problem, right?

9. There is a focus on education.

Staff and guests learn about the environmental significance of Lady Elliot Island, and the surrounding Great Barrier Reef, and its fragile ecosystem. There is an education centre with wall murals and books aplenty.
Lady Elliot Island

Staff and guests learn about the environmental significance of Lady Elliot Island, and the surrounding Great Barrier Reef, and its fragile ecosystem. There is an education centre with wall murals and books aplenty.

10. You get a digital detox with your stay.

This one is less about environmental impact and more for visitor wellbeing — there is no phone reception on the island, and you won't find a single TV or radio anywhere. "This can be quite appealing to the younger demographics looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life," says Amy Gash, the resort's digital marketing coordinator. You're surrounded by such natural beauty it's easy to survive without Instagram for a couple of days, honestly!
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This one is less about environmental impact and more for visitor wellbeing — there is no phone reception on the island, and you won't find a single TV or radio anywhere.

"This can be quite appealing to the younger demographics looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life," says Amy Gash, the resort's digital marketing coordinator. You're surrounded by such natural beauty it's easy to survive without Instagram for a couple of days, honestly!

11. People seem to love it!

OK, all this sounds seriously amazing for the environment. But does it seem to be drawing in the crowds and, most importantly, does it mean you're in for a good time if you do visit?"We have seen an increasing trend over the years with guests travelling to the island looking for ‘unique nature experiences’ and ‘one of a kind marine life encounters’," Amy Gash says. If that is what you're looking for, we may have just found you your dream holiday destination! You're welcome.
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OK, all this sounds seriously amazing for the environment. But does it seem to be drawing in the crowds and, most importantly, does it mean you're in for a good time if you do visit?

"We have seen an increasing trend over the years with guests travelling to the island looking for ‘unique nature experiences’ and ‘one of a kind marine life encounters’," Amy Gash says.

If that is what you're looking for, we may have just found you your dream holiday destination! You're welcome.

Travel was provided by Tourism Australia. BuzzFeed writers do not guarantee coverage.