Saturday, May 30, 2015         

The Green Leaf Premium

For articles before August 3, 2011, see the Free Archives »

It all started when a small group of friends, all avid hikers, noticed tagging under the Koko Crater arch in east Oahu last year. Apparently, nature tagging — spray-painting graffiti on rocks and trees — was becoming increasingly popular. This defacement of nature was just so wrong, it spurred Michael David Loftin into action.

Takeout is convenient. I get that. But lately, I've been thinking about how much waste is generated by takeout — including the single-use plastic fork and knife, the clamshell, the little sauce containers, all wrapped in a plastic bag.

Jennifer Metz Kane has been shopping without plastic bags for more than three years, and it's not because she's getting ready for the plastic bag ban that begins July 1. It's part of a journey she began in 2010.

Tucked in the back of Kai­lua Beach Center, around the corner from President Obama's favorite shave ice stop, Island Snow, the Kai­lua Bay Learning Center is seeking to educate tourists and locals alike about the impact of littering on Hawaii's beaches.

You could say Wes Wada embraces alternative energy with the formula of solar PV + EV. He owns two electric vehicles — a Nissan Leaf and a Mitsubishi i-MiEV — and last year invested in solar photovoltaic panels for the roof of his Honolulu home. The combination of PV and EV can be a great advantage.

In the Netherlands there's a dedicated bike commuter path embedded with solar cells that generate electricity for homes. Here in Honolulu we are simply celebrating the baby step of earning bronze-level status from the League of American Bicyclists.

For more than 50 years, Rainbow Drive-In in Kapa­hulu has been the go-to place for plate lunches, loco mocos and chili dogs. Even President Barack Obama eats there while on vacation.

Acool meeting space, fast Wi-Fi, organic, fair-trade coffee, networking, yoga and a healthy organic salad made of local produce. It would be hard to find all of the above in one place, but that's exactly what ProtoHUB Honolulu aims to do.

Imagine a Waikiki with considerably fewer coconut palm trees. If the coconut rhinoceros beetle, a native of Southeast Asia, establishes a population in Waikiki, that could become a very real scenario, according to Rob Curtiss, acting plant pest control branch manager for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

A sincere desire to help the Hawaiian monk seal survive as a species is what motivates independent filmmakers Robin and Andrew Eitelberg of Monterey, Calif.

The annual Hawai'i Conservation Conference is always a dynamic time. It's when a diverse group of scientists, policymakers, conservation practitioners, educators, students and community members from Hawaii and the Pacific converge to talk about conservation.

Environmentalists are most concerned about polystyrene foam, categorized by the Natural Resources Defense Council as a riskier plastic because it might leach styrene into food it comes into contact with.

It wasn't planned, it wasn't on the calendar, yet it was important enough to spur people into action.

Author Bill McKibben calls himself an unlikely activist. McKibben, 53, of Vermont, would rather stay home and watch bees make honey than burn up jet fuel traveling around the world to build a climate movement.

First of all, let's get this straight. Plastic bottle caps and lids do not go in your blue recycling bin on Oahu because they're made from a different kind of plastic than the bottle.

OK, so you want to save energy, live a greener lifestyle and all that good stuff at home, but you just don't know where to start. You'd like to scale down your electrical bill with a solar PV system, but you rent, live in a condo or don't have enough money to invest in one at this time.

Experts say it takes about three weeks to form a new habit. If your New Year's resolutions include being more green, then bringing your own bag to the grocery store is a good first step.

Regardless of what the state eventually decides to do about the volume of visitors stopping to see the turtles basking on the shores of Laniakea Beach on Oahu's North Shore, a group of volunteers continues to watch over the reptiles.

The 100-pound orphaned Hawaiian monk seal pup was likely just trying to play, according to The Marine Mammal Center, as he nipped two swimmers training for the Ironman triathlon in Kama­ka­honu Bay early last month.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Patagonia. Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods. What do these three companies have in common? They've earned "B Corp" status, a new certification for sustainable businesses.

Litter has a long-distance impact. We're talking about everyday human litter like plastic bottle caps and cigarette lighters, which birds can swallow, carrying them great distances.

The spinner dolphins are probably best known for their powerful acrobatic displays, leaping and spinning from the ocean. But did you know dolphins also spend the night foraging offshore and return to sheltered bays and coastlines to rest during the day?

The Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance's 21st annual conference takes place from July 16 to 18 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center and is expected to draw about 1,000 attendees from the mainland and Pacific Rim.

For former science teacher Buffy Cushman-Patz, the best way to get students to understand the importance of sustainability is not to preach, but to help them reach the conclusion themselves.

The Earth Day Network has launched a project called "The Face of Climate Change." The nonprofit group, founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, is inviting people throughout the world to contribute their own images of "climate change."

Rain gardens are flat-bottomed depressions in the ground that capture excess water and pollutants from rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and streets, keeping them from reaching streams and the ocean.

The juvenile monk seal was having difficulty breathing when he was discovered at Kapaa Beach on Hawaii island's northwestern shore. Once it was reported Feb. 1, staff from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration mobilized into action.

When news spread of a baby humpback whale stranded in the waters off Oahu this month, Hono­lulu residents shuddered. A growing crowd watched from shore as scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried to save it.

It was the moment we had been waiting for — the arrival of the electric bill. That is, the first bill after the solar photovoltaic system went up on the roof. We had 15 panels installed on our four-bedroom house in the summer.

Sometimes making a difference is as simple as a sign. A sign that informs, educates and illustrates how visitors and locals alike can respect the coral reef.

Daniel Bogert, 33, bikes everywhere. He bikes from home to the grocery store, to work, to classes, to run errands, to meet up with friends and on the weekends, he bikes for fun.

On a Friday morning earlier this month, more than 100 seventh-graders from Kamehameha Schools donned tabi and gloves and waded into Mau­na­lua Bay to pull leather mudweed from the reef.

So how is KP2 — the orphaned Hawaiian monk seal — doing at his new home at the Waikiki Aquarium?

Contrary to what many people might think, conservation work is not always about adventure. It may mean traveling to remote islands, but it also requires dedication, patience, research, data crunching and writing up proposals for grants so you can continue to carry out your work.

We've all heard about the "eat five fruits and veggies" daily recommendation but how about our intake of pesticides? The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, released its 2012 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce last week.

It all started with a group of 12 close friends who loved to surf and go to the beach. They came from very different backgrounds and professions — marine biologist, real estate developer and assistant hotel manager — but all had a passion for the ocean.

Earth Day was Sunday, and sure enough, we had islandwide beach cleanups while businesses pitched their earth-friendly products and stores held “Earth Day sales.”

It's interesting driving around Oahu neighborhoods these days. Two years ago you would see plenty of rooftops dotted with solar water-heating panels, but solar photovoltaic systems? It was a rare sight — close to only 1 percent of local homes.

Whoa! Before you pour that pan of tempura grease or french fry oil down the drain, think of what it will do to the sewer lines. Usually, it's "out of sight, out of mind." But oil will clog up the sewer.

If there's one thing Capt. Charles Moore wants you to know, it's that the plastic floating in the ocean has an impact on you. Moore, credited by most as the discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, says that aside from harming marine animals, the petroleum-based plastics in the ocean ecosystem could have an as-yet-unknown impact on human health.

The year is coming to a close -- time to clean out the house. As you clear away the holiday clutter, remember that a lot of it can be recycled instead of going to Oahu's overburdened landfills.

What’s a nurdle?
It’s not a cross between a Nerf and a turtle. Nor are we talking about a wave-shaped glob of toothpaste, in this case.

Since writing "Surfing Tsunamis of Change: A Handbook for Change Agents" (Island Moonlight, $19.95), author Shanah Trevenna has seen the impact of her writing ripple out like waves.

September signals the start of many things: autumn, harvest time and shorter days. September is also mass slaughter season for dolphins in Taiji, a coastal town in Wakayama prefecture in Japan.

But what to do with the bottle caps? Most of us probably toss them into the trash can, not realizing they can be recycled. It's not just drink bottle caps that can be recycled, but plastic shampoo caps, peanut butter jar caps, toothpaste caps and the caps on gummy-bear vitamins.

Dozens of youths have been working long and hard hours this month at Alii Fishpond on South Molokai. Teenagers from the island and Hana High and Elementary School's building program on Maui, Ma Ka Hana Ka ‘Ike, are busy building an office, restrooms, a traditional hale and a performance platform.

It's any foodie's dream: to be surrounded by so many of the isle's best lunch wagons that you don't know which line to stand in first.

Where does your coffee cup go? That is a question that Hawaii Pacific University students Krystle Golly, Brittney Walbaum and Jessica Weh­ling are asking consumers as part of a hands-on proj­ect for their "Building Sustainable Communities" class this semester.

Most Popular