The recycling paradox

August 26th, 2014
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Josh Hancock of Downbeat Diner wants to recycle his glass bottles, but he can't. That's the irony of living in paradise. Photo by  Dennis Oda. July 2014.

Josh Hancock of Downbeat Diner wants to recycle his glass bottles, but he can't. That's the irony of living in paradise. Photo by Dennis Oda. July 2014.

Life in paradise is a paradox.

Josh Hancock, owner of Downbeat Diner and Lounge in Honolulu Chinatown, wants to recycle the high volume of glass wine and liquor bottles that he has. But he can't. And therein lies the irony.

Since July, Hancock and two other businesses nearby have had  no choice but to throw  two 50-gallon barrels of wine and liquor bottles in the trash. All because their recycling vendor was no longer picking them up. Because the city of Honolulu decided to cut the reimbursement to recyclers for glass in half, to 4.5 cents a pound from 9 cents a pound in July, as reported in the Star-Advertiser.

Companies like Reynolds Recycling no longer accept the liquor bottles and other nondeposit glass from the public.

"It's like crazy," said Hancock. "Everybody that works here, myself and my partners, we're all from that generation where recycling became ingrained in us. To have our leaders make these laws to tell us not to do that, and throw glass into the trash is backwards."

"It doesn't feel good to do it, but we're handicapped."

Hancock estimates between the three businesses, they're throwing out about 150 pounds a week. The volume from bars in Waikiki is likely two or three times higher.

The state should have stepped up to cover this predictable funding gap, according to an editorial we ran July 31. Now this glass is ending up as "noncombustible residue" in our landfills.

Glass, after all, is generally the better alternative to plastic, which we're trying to get out of our oceans. The irony is that this very ocean that surrounds us is being used as the excuse for the cost of recycling. Instead of shipping the glass out of state, surely, there's a sustainable solution that can be found at home.

Just to clarify, not all glass recycling on the island has ended.

>> Recycling vendors are still accepting HI-5 glass bottles. You still get 5-cents back per glass bottle.

>> You  may still put glass items (glass pickle jars, jelly jars, wine bottles) etc. in your blue bin for curbside recycling. That glass is still being recycled, according to Suzanne Jones, assistant chief of Honolulu's refuse division.

 

Solar vigil

August 22nd, 2014
By

Image courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

Image courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

The Sierra Club of Hawai‘i is inviting solar supporters to attend a candle lit vigil outside of HECO headquarters (across from 820 Ward Ave.) in Honolulu  from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25.

Tuesday is the deadline for HECO to come up with a better plan to lower electricity rates and increase access to rooftop solar, as mandated by the Public Utilities Commission back in April.

"The message is simple: to reach energy independence, we need a plan for solar success. Without a plan to revive it, solar will remain on life support," said the club in an email calling for the vigil.

Click here if you want to join the vigil.

 

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Expanding a monument

August 21st, 2014
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Should the boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument be expanded?

President Barack Obama announced at an ocean conference in June his intention to expand the monument's boundaries from 50 to 200 miles from shore, using his executive authority, as reported in the Washington Post.

The total area covered would more than double the monument from about 83,000 square miles to more than 755,000 square miles, west and south of Hawaii, making it the largest network of protected areas on Earth.

PRIA Map_Credit_Pew

President Obama is expected to make a decision after public input, though there is no specified timeline or date in which he will do so yet.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality, on behalf of NOAA and FWS, invited the public to a town hall meeting Aug. 11 at Ala Moana Hotel. Comments were also accepted via email until Aug. 15.

There was overwhelming support from Hawaii, according to environmental activists.

More than 200 attended, and roughly 50 commented publicly, including individuals from Maui, Molokai, Kauai and Miloli‘i on the Big Island, the last traditional fishing village in Hawaii. The large majority were in favor of expanding the monument to protect the ecosystem from the shore to the deep sea as well as to create a refuge for endangered species. Also, to keep the area safe from drilling and mining.

More than 135,000 U.S. citizens submitted letters, 1,500 from Hawaii residents. More than 30 non-profits including the Sierra Club Hawai‘i, Conservation Council for Hawaii, KAHEA, Surfrider Hawaii and others sent a group letter in support.

Some opposition came from the Western Pacific Regional Fishery  Management because of concerns from commercial fishermen.

The monument was established by George W. Bush in 2009, covering roughly 83,000 square miles, which extend 50 nautical miles from the shores of  seven islands and atolls: Howland, Baker, Jarvis islands and Johnson, Wake and Palmyra Atolls and Kingman Reef.

Collectively, the Pacific Remote Islands are home to 14 million seabirds of 19 species, 22 species of marine mammals, seven of which are endangered, including the blue whale, m ore than 240 seamounds and some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world.

It is also home to some of the healthiest populations of green and hawksbill sea turtles.

"By protecting the entire ecosystem from the shore to the deep sea, we ensure that all the links in the food web remain intact," said Alan Friedlander, director for the Fisheries Ecology Research Lab at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

 

A monk seal film

August 11th, 2014
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A documentary film about Hawaiian monk seals is in the works, but only has four more days to go to reach its $30,000 fundraising goal on indiegogo.

The film is the subject of today's Green Leaf column.

Robin and Andrew Eitelberg of Monterey, Calif. discovered the plight of the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal a little over two years ago. Since last fall, they've been in the isles, dedicated to their goal of making a documentary film to help save the species.

They hope that the film, "One by One: The Struggle to Save the Hawaiian Monk Seal," will help educate the public about Hawaiian monk seals.

“When you talk to people  about monk seal outside of Hawaii, no one’s heard of them, so we’re starting with a completely blank slate," said Andrew. "We’re trying to get people aware of the species and what’s happening here.”

Making the Hawaiian monk seal, Hawaii's official state mammal, more visible and prominent, is one of their goals. Raising awareness of how hooked monk seals should be reported immediately is another.

The film will highlight the work of numerous conservation groups like the Monk Seal Foundation and The Marine Mammal Center, the passion of the scientists and volunteers who are working together to save the species, as well as the volunteers who are dedicated to protecting the seals as they haul ashore to get some rest in Hawaii.

Filmmakers Robin and Andrew Eitelberg. Courtesy image.

Filmmakers Robin and Andrew Eitelberg. Courtesy image.

The Eitelbergs, graduates from film studies at the University of California at Berkeley, believe documentaries have the power to tell a story and reach a worldwide audience. Both were impressed by "Blackfish."

They've been filming in the isles since last fall with the help of NOAA's Monk Seal Research Program. Challenges include capturing footage of seals that are spread out over thousands of miles, sometimes on remote isles like Papahanaumokuakea. They've respected the 150-foot distance from the seals, and are also careful to be quiet while shadowing NOAA scientists so as not to disturb the seals.

There have been many inspiring moments, according to Robin, including when a vet was able to successfully extricate a hook from monk seal pup Luana's mouth in June. A collective sigh of relief came from the team that rescued her, along with high-fives all around.

Funding will help the pair recoup out-of-pocket expenses already invested into travel and equipment, as well as editing, graphics and film festival submission fees. Robin says editing will take place in the fall, with a screening hopefully, by next spring.

They hope to offer screenings and discussions here as well as on the mainland.

With more funding and time, Andrew says it would be interesting to explore the unique challenges of monk seal populations for each isle.

"We want to have children, and grandchildren one day, and I am fearful my grandchildren will not get to see these monk seals and share the experience of knowing what they have to offer to all of us," said Andrew. "We have to all come together right now...build this movement to save a species and we hope this documentary can be a spark."

A Hawaiian monk seal snoozing. Photo courtesy "One by One."

A Hawaiian monk seal snoozing. Photo courtesy "One by One."

Marine debris art

July 31st, 2014
By

Honolulu artist Shannon McCarthy painted this monk seal ocean scene on five reclaimed wood panels and a border made out of invasive strawberry guava wood. The panels will be on display at the Jack Johnson concerts Aug. 1 and 2. Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Honolulu artist Shannon McCarthy created this monk seal ocean scene mosiac on five reclaimed wood panels bordered by invasive strawberry guava. The mosaic will be on display at the Jack Johnson concerts Aug. 1 and 2 at Waikiki Shell. Photo courtesy Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

So, what do you do with all of that plastic debris — small pieces of broken-down plastics, or microplastics — cleaned from the beach?

For Honolulu artist and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii volunteer, Shannon McCarthy, the answer is, get creative and make art.

She created a Hawaiian monk seal ocean scene (two adult monk seals, one pup) on the North Shore on five wooden panels constructed out of reclaimed wood with a border of invasive strawberry guava wood. The mosaic was first unveiled at a beach cleanup at Point Panic (Kakaako) in June, then went on display at Honolulu Hale. It will be up at the Jack Johnson concert at Waikiki Shell Aug. 1 and 2. 

The microplastics were collected using rudimentary sand sifters, then separated and glued to the panels. Students from Kainalu Elementary, St. John Vianney, St. Louis School,  St. Anthony, Kahaluu Elementary and members of Girl Scouts Troop 840 all pitched in on the artwork, as well as helped with beach cleanups over the past three months, collecting the marine debris.

"The mosaics are inspired by the need to spread awareness of plastics and marine debris in all the oceans," said McCarth, "how to reduce or eliminate our daily impact on it, and how drastically beautiful Hawaii and its inhabitants are being affected by this pollution."

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii's first Ultimate Sand Sifter Challenge, meanwhile, is still on. The contest encourages Oahu residents to create and build sand sifters to efficiently remove the microplastics from the sand on the beach.

"The hope is that this mural will directly inspire people to pay attention to the overwhelming amount of marine debris affecting our coastlines," said SCH executive director Kahi Pacarro. "Our Sand Sifter Challenge is meant to foster out-of-the-box thinking, entrepreneurial spirit and teamwork to tackle a growing problem that, if not addressed, will lead to an unsustainable future for Hawaii's coastlines."

The sand sifters must be human powered and built for under $300. The winning team wins a $2,500 cash prize plus an additional $2,500 to replicate five sand sifters. Submissions for the contest are due Sept. 26. Visit sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org/ultimate-sand-sifter-challenge to learn more.

 

Crowdfunding works for YWCA

July 22nd, 2014
By

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency.

The YWCA of Oahu, which raised its goal of nearly $15,000 for a lighting efficiency project through WEfficiency. Photo courtesy YWCA of Oahu.

The Blue Planet Foundation's WEfficiency crowdfunding platform has paid off for the YWCA of Oahu's Laniakea facility at 1040 Richards St.

Through Wefficiency, the YWCA was able to obtain a combination of donations and loans for nearly $15,000 for a high efficiency lighting project. The lighting upgrade is expected to shave about $8,500 a year on the electricity bill.

"The YWCA of Oahu is so humbled by the overwhelming support of the community in funding our WEfficiency campaign," said YWCA's director of fund development Wendy Chang. "The money we save on energy will go directly into the services that help to empower women from all walks of life."

A portion of savings will be used to pay back loans, with the first repayments within six months. Loanators can shift the loan to another non-profit group's campaign, if they desire, via WEfficiency.

For instance, Damien Memorial School and Hawaii Public Radio, are also campaigning for energy-efficient retrofits via WEfficiency.  Damien needs another $8,000 to reach a $12,000 goal. HPR needs another $5,000 for its $11,000 goal.

If you're a non-profit interested in participating in WEfficiency, email info@weffiency.org

Conservation commitments

July 18th, 2014
By

Kai ceremony celebrating commitments to the environment by Maui Nui Makai Network. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Kai ceremony combining ocean waters celebrating commitments to the environment by Maui Nui Makai Network. Photo by Sean Marrs.

The Hokule‘a Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage received new commitments by members of the Maui Nui Makai Network on Wednesday, July 16.

In a kai ceremony at noon, six communities of the newly formed Maui Nui Makai Network pledged new commitments to members of the voyage at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. The ceremony followed an hour-long presentation by members at the 2014 annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference.

Kahu Sam Ohu Gon III combined ocean waters from each site as a symbol of shared commitments to community-based management of the six communities that make up an ahupua‘a on Maui. These commitments were recorded in a book that will be carried on board the Hokule‘a, which are to be completed by the voyage's conclusion in 2017.

Among the Network's commitments to one another:

>> Protect and restore healthy ecosystems

>> Share and learn from their diverse experiences

>> Help one another malama (care for) their areas

>> Perpetuate Hawaiian values, including kuleana

"We are a group of like-minded people who have shared aspirations to care for our marine resources," said Ekolu Lindsey of Palanui Hiu, current chair for the network. "The ocean is the foundation of our island culture and we need it to be healthy and sustainable. We are working toward sustainable reefs and fish for our future."

Members of the Network currently include: Kipahulu ‘Ohana and Na Mamo O Mu‘olea in east Maui; Wailuku Ahupua‘a Community Managed Makai Area in central Maui; Palanui Hiu in Lahaina; Hui Maalalama O Mo‘omomomi in Molokai; and Maunalei Ahupua‘a Community Managed Makai Area in Lanai.

Members of the Maui Nui Makai Network with Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Members of the Maui Nui Makai Network with Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson, fourth from left, and Kahu Sam Ohu Gon III, right. Photo by Sean Marrs.

Permaculture learning

July 17th, 2014
By

matt

Matthew Lynch. 

Interested in permaculture?

Permaculture, as defined by some of the "elders of permaculture," is "the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems." It's the "use of ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production." It's a "holistic approach to landscape design and human culture."

Permaculture specialists Hunter Heaivilin and Matthew Lynch are once again offering the Permaculture Design Certificate course in Waimanalo from July 27 to Aug. 10. Green Rows Farm will host the two-week, intensive course, which includes visits to beautiful permaculture farms, classroom education, hands-on application and a team design project for the local community.

Hunter Heaivilin.

Hunter Heaivilin.

Students learn how permaculture principles can be applied in various environments — from barren deserts to tropical jungles, urban hardscapes, backyards, schools, farms and public places.

The course will cover everything from site analysis to climate, plants, soil science, fertility management, waste recycling, architectural and landscape adaptations and more, using permaculture principles and ethics. Upon completion, students receive a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design.

Both Heaivilin and Lynch have completed projects around the world. Heaivilin is currently coordinator of the Oahu Farm to School Network. Lynch is the founder of the Honolulu-based non-profit, Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design.

Cost is $1,500 ($1,100 for kamaaina). Tuition includes course fees, onsite camping and meals. Discounts available for students, educators and those not staying on property. You can register at tinyurl.com/Nalo2014. Visit TransitionOahu.org to learn more or email donnarlay@gmail.com or call 224-2462.

Matthew Lynch, below, talking about sustainability at TEDxHonolulu.

Treasures of Oahu

July 16th, 2014
By

Mokolii Cove Pano

This beautiful panorama of Mokoli‘i Cove (Chinaman's Hat) is on display at Canon Gallery as part of nature photographer Nathan Yuen's exhibit "Treasures of Oahu" until end of July. Photo by Nathan Yuen.

Nature photographer Nathan Yuen hikes for hours to get to the most remote parts of Oahu, all in the quest to capture some of the rarest species in the Hawaiian islands. We're talking about singing kahuli (an endangered Oahu tree snail), happy-face spiders and ‘ohi‘a lehua found nowhere else in the world but in Hawaii. And, more specifically, on Oahu.

Yuen's photo exhibit, "Natural Treasures of Oʻahu — From Mauka to Kahakai," is up at Canon Gallery until the end of July.

Yuen, also commissioner of the Natural Area Reserves System Hawaii, spends weekends hiking along the spine of the Koolau and Waianae mountains looking for native snails and flowers endemic to the island of Oahu. He's interested in beautiful vistas as well as the easily overlooked diminutive details one might find along a path. On a regular basis, he enjoys visiting Makapu‘u at sunrise to see the colorful transformation of the ocean and sky at dawn, or heading to Mokoli‘i (Chinaman's Hat) and its cove.

"Nothing gives me more pleasure than to see the raw beauty of Oahu's coastlines and the native plants and seabirds that live there," he said. "It is my goal to showcase the unique plants and animals that live at these special places to give you a reason to protect them for future generations."

Find spectacular vistas of Oahu, as well as closeups of some of the unique plants and animals found only on the island of Oahu, sometimes overlooked while on the trail. Yuen takes multiple, overlapping photos to compose a large, panoramic image, such as the one above. Canon Gallery is at the Canon USA office at Ward Plaza (210 Ward Ave. #200). Hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

exhibit2

Sandy Beach cleanup Saturday

July 13th, 2014
By

Volunteers use a makeshift sand sifter to sift out microplastics at Sandy's Beach. The next beach cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 19. Photo courtesy RevoluSun.

Volunteers use a makeshift sand sifter to sift out microplastics at Sandys. The next beach cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 19. Photo courtesy RevoluSun.

RevoluSun once again invites the public to participate in what's become an annual tradition since opening its doors for business in 2009 — a beach cleanup at Sandys on Saturday, July 19. At that first cleanup in 2009, volunteers removed 900 pounds of trash from the Sandy Beach Park shoreline.

The solar company is partnering with the Surfrider Foundation's Oahu Chapter for the fifth cleanup, which takes place from 10 a.m. to noon. on Saturday. RevoluSun is offering volunteers a commemorative T-shirt and free lunch.

The mobile sand-sifter developed by local contractor Jason Tucker Hills, which is designed to separate out micro-plastics, will be back again. Last year, volunteers collected more than 400 pounds of small debris at Sandys. The tally also included more than 2,000 cigarette butts, almost 600 bottle caps and more than 300 drink cans and bottles and single-use food containers — all within 90 minutes. .