Ecology Unites with Art for Zero Waste on Tilos

During a three month residency program run by Polygreen, "Hypercomf" and "The New Raw" artists will come up with creative ways to reuse and upcycle the island's waste.

Tilos island has again taken centre stage in the circular economy production, this time with art playing a leading role. Reusing materials that are collected daily at Tilos’ Centre for Circular Innovation, two visual arts and design duos, “Hypercomf” and “The New Raw” are being hosted on the island to explore how art and creativity can help create tangible solutions in the wake of the island’s actions toward sustainability, recycling and environmental protection. 

In their three-month residency, the artists, who are guests of Tilos’ municipality and the Polygreen Culture & Art Initiative (PCAI) will connect with locals to develop new ways of thinking and living to help actualize Tilos’ goal of being Greece’s first zero waste island.


The island’s residents and children will attend workshops by the artists, observing how they create using recycled items and innovative thinking, while the creators will be exploring the island’s history, crafts-making and folklore traditions to incorporate into their creations.

“With a vision of a world without waste, all of us at Polygreen strive for the widespread adoption of the circular economy, aiming to make use of every available material, giving it a second life,” said Athanasios Polychronopoulos, the Founder and Director of PCAI and CEO of Polygreen.

“On this journey, we believe that art is a valuable ally, as it provides a catalyst for critical thinking and deeper dialogue. In the context of “Just Go Zero Tilos,” PCAI created a program for artists and designers to discover creative ways of highlighting – at every level – the global need for more effectively approaching and resolving ecological issues,” he said.

He also added that the PCAI’s selected the artists “Hypercomf” and “The New Raw,” who are Greek-international creatives with an global presence in the visual arts and design scene, to generate the opportunity for locals to discover even more ways to make use of and value the materials that are no longer useful to them.

“In this way, the new culture that we are launching on Tilos is being bolstered,” he underlined, adding that as a bonus, “open studio days and educational workshops are planned for both residents and visitors of the island, offering participants a global approach to art, the environment and culture.”

Tilos’ circular economy program, as Polygreen’s CEO explains, has been very successful: “From the data collected since the launch of the ‘Just Go Zero Tilos’ program to date, it is clear that the non-recyclable materials collected now constitute less than 15% of the total volume of waste produced on the island. These materials are forwarded by Polygreen for energy recovery at our group’s licensed facility in Aspropyrgos. Some special streams, such as old appliances, furniture or textiles, are selected by our artists to be used as raw material for art and creation. In Tilos nothing is wasted anymore, residents and visitors have adopted a zero waste way of thinking, which leads to a new way of life.”

The goal is that we all change our way of living and thinking and make conscious new choices to produce less waste”, he stressed, adding that “certainly repair and reuse, even within our homes, is the first step in this direction.


“For example, in Tilos and as part of the education of its residents, we held creative workshops for children and adults, so that they can themselves make use of old fabrics or make decorations from those materials. In this way, they saw for the first time how we can all be part of the solution

This is the organisation’s first artist residency programme, which was designed in 2019 by Kika Kyriakakou, artistic director of PCAI, and the evaluation committee included Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of Serpentine Galleries, and Krist Gruijthuijsen, director of KW Institute. In 2021 the organisation was selected as an official nominator of the prestigious environmental Earthshot Prize, established by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.”

Source: AMNA, Sofia Mandilara

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