Archive for June, 2011

More green jobs

June 30th, 2011
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kalihibikes

Jimmy Cholynay works on his science teacher's bicycle with mentor Matt Yee at the Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange (KVIBE) in Kalihi. KVIBE is looking for a program manager. Photo by Jamm Aquino.

Looking for a green job? There are a few places hiring.

Hawaii Energy, the third-party administrator of HECO's rebate programs, is hiring for several positions.

If you're not familiar with Hawaii Energy, they're the ones who process the rebates for solar water heaters as well as clunker refrigerators, ceiling fans and CFL bulbs.

Hawaii Energy is part of SAIC, a Fortune 500 scientific, engineering, and technology applications company (yes, that's a mouthful), which works to solve "problems of vital importance to the nation and the world, in national security, energy and the environment..."

Attention bike enthusiasts: Kokua Kalihi Valley, a community-based group, is also looking for a full-time Kalihi Valley Instructional Bike Exchange (KVIBE) manager. It's a program where donated bicycles are repaired, refurbished and given back out to youth in the community.

The youth in the program learn to build and maintain a bicycle, and then get to keep it after all of the work they have put into it. The program helps instill self-confidence, and provides an alternative to at-risk behaviors.

The KVIBE Manager oversees bike shop operations, including the budget, inventory, safety controls, and works with volunteers, staff, and participants  — and leads community rides. Perfect for a bike enthusiast who doesn't want to sit in an office cubicle all day. Apply for the position at  jobs@kkv.net if interested, or deliver your resume and cover letter to 2239 North School St., Honolulu HI 96819.

Honeywell is also looking for a senior solar program coordinator in Honolulu. Responsibilities include supervising solar program staff, coordinating daily activities, and creating training programs for customer service representatives and program coordinators. The position is posted at greenjobshawaii,org.

The iConserve rally

June 28th, 2011
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Get ready for the iConserve Rally, which is happening at noon at the Capitol Rotunda today (Wednesday, June 29).

The rally encourages state employees to save energy at state offices as Hawaii competes with other states in a national competition sponsored by the EPA. Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will launch the campaign. The public is welcome to join — there will be gadget giveaways (including CFLs and LEDs).

Jeff Mikulina from the Blue Planet Foundation, Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake, DBEDT Energy Office's Mark Glick and singer Simone Cole will entertain as Jive Nene (a new band).

Other organizations that will be on hand include Hawaii Energy, the labor department's Workforce Development, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, HECO, Kanu Hawaii, the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, KUPU/RISE, Noresco and the U.S. Green Building Council.

Some easy tips for saving energy in the office:

>> Turn off the lights (which account for 25 to 40 percent of an office building's use).

>> Hibernate or shut down your computer at the end of the day. This could save the state approximately $6,675.

>> Turn off power strips, unplug chargers and remove personal appliances (like mini-fridges).

>> Shut the doors (open doors allow precious air conditioning to escape while closing doors could save the state up to $5,500 annually per door).

The EPA is hosting a national competition to see which commercial buildings are the most energy-efficient. You can learn more at www.noresco.com/hi.

Herbs for your kitchen

June 27th, 2011
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Thai basil flowers can also be brewed as a tea. Photo by Nina Wu.

Thai basil flowers can also be brewed as a tea. Photo by Nina Wu.

It was inspiring to take "Eat, Grow, Love," a culinary herbs workshop by Laura Shiels at The Green House, which is in today's features section.

Fresh herbs at the store can be expensive, so being able to grow your own helps save money and gives you more flexibility (when you just need one sprig of mint, for example).

I learned a few things I didn't know and have yet to try – that the small, purple flowers in Thai basil can be brewed into a tea, for instance.

The Thai basil in my yard originally grew from cuttings from a friend's yard — and her mother brought the herb home from a Thai restaurant. It's wonderful how you can share herbs this way. You do just stick the basil cuttings into a container of water (a glass), let it root in 1-2 weeks, and then plant.

Thai basil adds a new twist to pesto, with a half-cup of sesame oil, along with apple cider vinegar, nuts, and sea salt (and a little bit of other herbs, which is optional), according to Shiels, who whipped up a batch during the workshop. You get an idea of what "fresh" really means when you get a taste.

Fresh pesto made from Thai basil and a drop of sesame. Photo by Bruce Asato.

Fresh pesto made from Thai basil and a half-cup of sesame oil. Photo by Bruce Asato.

I've had heads of garlic grow old and start sprouting, but never tried planting them in a pot. The sprouts come up as green shoots, according to Shiels. Olena, or turmeric, would also be neat to have in the garden.

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Olena (turmeric) is a rhizome, which you plant in the ground. The plant is leafy and green. Photo courtesy Laura Shiels.

While I've got rosemary and sage growing in pots, I never thought of trying to grow lemongrass, which can help with insomnia. I also thought my mint had completely dried up and that it was history, but on a day of big rain, it came back to life and turned green again!

Mint is pretty resilient. There are many kinds of mints, according to Shiels — peppermint, spearmint — all with different degrees of mintiness.

Laura has a magic touch with plants - her chili peppers are healthy and tall. She nurtures plants and grows them everywhere she goes between here and the Big Island. But she used to harvest mostly from the wild, she told me, until she got to Puerto Rico and began growing plants to study.

Try growing your own herbs — start small, with a cutting of Thai basil from a friend's yard, for instance, and see where it takes you. After Thai basil, you can try rosemary (good for enhancing memory).

To learn more about herbs, or to get the recipe of the day, visit Laura Shiels' website at herbalmagik.com.

What's in your sunblock?

June 23rd, 2011
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sunscreens

Summer is here, and the Environmental Working Group's 2011 Sunscreen Report is out.

You probably think that a sunscreen with a higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF), say 50 or more, is better. But that's not necessarily the case, according to EWG, an advocacy group based in Washington D.C. which says those "sky-high SPF claims" give users a false sense of security, making them wait longer before reapplying.

The EWG also recommends a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection.

Many sunscreens — three of five U.S. sunscreens (including those with SPF factors 50 and higher) — wouldn't be acceptable in Europe due to inadequate UVA protection, according to EWG, where manufacturers voluntarily comply with a standard for meaningful UVA protection.

The EWG recommends avoiding potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals like oxybenzone, which is listed in many of the sunscreens on store shelves. Instead, EWG recommends sunscreens with zinc and titanium, particularly for children and people with sensitive skin seeking UVA protection.

There are environmental impacts when oxybenzone washes off into the ocean.

Nearly 90 brands, including CVS, Neutrogena, Banana Boat, Walgreens, and Aveeno now offer sunscreens with zinc and titanium. Still, you need to check the list of ingredients for each product under the brand names.

Another ingredient to watch out for is retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may heighten skin cancer risk when used on sun-exposed skin, according to recent scientific research by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The EWG recommends avoiding sunscreens with retinyl palmitate while more definitive research is under way.

For my baby, I bought a tube of thinkbaby (SPF 30+) and was glad to find it rated No. 1. Glad to see there are other options, too, including California Baby, Badger, COOLA Baby, Maui Naturals, TruKid and Alba Botanica Sun.

Questions? See answers to this list of FAQ. If only the FDA would make life simpler for consumers by making sure harmful chemicals weren't in sunscreens — unfortunately, there are no regulations over what gets put into sunscreens or the claims printed on the label.

EWG's fifth annual Sunscreen Guide rates 292 brands and 1,700 products. Look up your sunscreen to see how it rates here.

Hawaii's future green workforce

June 17th, 2011
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Kupu's annual Environmental Fair provides its members with an opportunity to network with companies and organizations for future "green" careers. Courtesy photo.

Kupu's annual Environmental Fair provides members of the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC) with the opportunity to network with companies and organizations for future "green" careers. Photo courtesy of Kupu.

Hawaii's future green workforce is in the works.

Today, at ING Direct Cafe in Waikiki, Kupu is holding its annual Environmental Fair for Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps members from across Hawaii. There, the youth will get to network and learn of opportunities in "green" careers as they complete their training week and begin a summer full of invasive species removal, trail building, and more.

The Blue Planet Foundation, Pono Pacific, Rewarding Internships for Sustainable Employment (RISE), and Hawaii Energy are expected to be on hand.

If you haven't heard of Kupu, it's a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to empowering young adults to serve their communities through character building, service learning and environmental stewardship opportunities. Kupu is also the home organization to youth training programs, including HYCC.

Kupu is recruiting youth ages 17 to 24 for its Fall Urban Corps program. Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 1.

Kupu in Hawaiian means "to sprout, grow, germinate, or increase," and takes inspiration from the kupukupu fern, which is one of the first plants to spring back after a lava flow.

Speaking of green jobs, Jeffrey Matsu, lead researcher of the Hawaii Green Jobs Initiative at the state labor department says the green economy in Hawaii is "positioned to grow rapidly" in the latest issue of the Hawaii Employment Guide.

The state estimates there are about 11,145 "green" jobs in Hawaii, with an additional 2,903 expected to come online by 2012, according to a recent study. The study defined a "green job" as: "one that engages in economic activity that makes a positive impact on the environment or energy sustainability, either on a full- or -part-time basis."

There's also a green jobs website now - www.GreenJobsHawaii.org.

Speaking of jobs, Re-use Hawaii is hiring for the following part-time and full-time positions: warehouse manager, customer service/salvage specialist, deconstruction crew, and deconstruction project developer. Email info@reusehawaii.org with "green jobs" in the subject line for more information.

A green playhouse

June 15th, 2011
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This green playhouse, built by Pai‘ea Millwrights and Philip K. White & Associates, was auctioned off to benefit the Hawaii Nature Center. Courtesy photo.

This green playhouse, built by Pai‘ea Millwrights and Philip K. White & Associates, was auctioned off to benefit the Hawaii Nature Center. Courtesy photo.

Jane and Jerry Mount are the lucky owners of the Green Playhouse.

The custom-built keiki playhouse, built by Pai‘ea Millwrights and Philip K. White & Associates, was auctioned off in May at Hawaii Nature Center's green gala.

The playhouse is made of recycled redwood, cedar, fir and luan. It's outfitted with a small photovoltaic panel on the roof to power a bubble blower on the composite Trex lanai. It also has a rain catchment bucket to help water the little WikiGarden.

It's a way to show keiki sustainable living.

"Hawaii is a place where we have the option to build very lightly and still have some comforts," said Logan Pai‘ea White, founder of Pai‘ea Millwrights. "Refinement can always be added through emphasis on design, functionality and creativity. The playhouse is a model of these values."

This green playhouse has a solar PV panel and rainwater catchment barrel. Courtesy photo.

This green playhouse has a solar PV panel and rainwater catchment barrel. Courtesy photo.

One lone na‘u on Oahu now protected

June 13th, 2011
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The na‘u is a native Hawaiian gardenia. Photo by Hank Oppenheimer.

The na‘u is a native Hawaiian gardenia. Photo by Hank Oppenheimer.

The lone na‘u existing in the wild on Oahu now has a protective enclosure around it, thanks to funding from Hawaiian Springs for the state Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) program.

Volunteers from the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), Ka‘ala Farms,  U.S. Army, and Board of Water Supply, along with staff from the Oahu Plant Extinction Prevention program, put up the fence in May.

For those of you who are curious what a na‘u is (also known as nanu, Gardenia brighamii in Latin), it's an endangered native Hawaiian gardenia that grows in lower-elevation dryland slopes. The na‘u has glossy green leaves and solitary white flowers with 6 or 7 lobes (not to be mistaken with tiare).

Some of you may be lucky enough to have one growing in your yard — and you can actually plant one in your garden, if you'd like. Thanks to all of the readers who responded with so much enthusiasm to the column on the na‘u.

However, when it comes to the wild, only one known na‘u tree remains in the Nanakuli Forest Reserve, according to staff from PEP. Another 12 na‘u trees dwell on Lanai.

The wire enclosure around the last remaining na‘u on Oahu will help prevent feral animals, including cows and pigs, from damaging the endangered plant.

Among volunteers that helped put up the protective fence around the na‘u were: Kawika Shizuma of the State of Hawaii's Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW); Susan Ching, Oahu Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Program Coordinator; Bruce Koebele, Ka‘ala Farms native plants specialist; Matthew Burt of the U.S. Army; Stefanie Jefts of Oahu PEP; Ryan Peralta, DOFAW Forest Management Supervisor; and Amy Tsuneyoshi of the Board of Water Supply. Courtesy photo.

Among volunteers that helped put up the protective fence around the na‘u were: Kawika Shizuma of the State of Hawaii's Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW); Susan Ching, Oahu Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Program Coordinator; Bruce Koebele, Ka‘ala Farms native plants specialist; Matthew Burt of the U.S. Army; Stefanie Jefts of Oahu PEP; Ryan Peralta, DOFAW Forest Management Supervisor; and Amy Tsuneyoshi of the Board of Water Supply. Courtesy photo.

Interesting in helping to preserve the fragrant na‘u? PEP is in the process of gaining 501(c)(3) status. If you are interested in making a donation, contact Joan Yoshioka, statewide PEP representative, at (808) 974-4388 or jyoshioka@dofawha.org. More about the Hawaii PEP can be found at http://pepphi.org.

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World Oceans Day

June 7th, 2011
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View of our beautiful ocean from the Koolaus. June 8 is World Oceans Day. Photo by Nina Wu.

Today, Wednesday, June 8, is World Oceans Day.

The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, with the premise that:

The oceans are essential to food security and the health and survival of all life, power our climate and are a critical part of the biosphere. The official designation of World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans.

It's a global celebration of ocean conservation, as well as the sea life within it.

We are all connected to the ocean in one way or another, whether we surf, play, or eat from it. New York City will light up the Empire State building in white, blue, and purple this evening. Here, we  can simply look out on our beautiful ocean to see the layers of turquoise, greens, and blues beneath the sun.

Watching Disneynature's "Oceans," which was released on Earth Day 2010, may remind you not to take this beautiful, vast body of water for granted. I found it inspiring enough for a Green Leaf  column last year.

The Waikiki Aquarium is celebrating with the following events:

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Guests can enjoy interactive activities and educational displays on how to keep storms drains free of pollution, thanks to the state's storm water management program.

11:30 a.m. American Underwater Products will present th Enviropro BC, their newest underwater gear, which uses materials that are quickly decontaminated to provide a healthier environment for marine life.

Noon: Waikiki Aquarium's public moi release.

Several beach cleanups will be held in honor of World Oceans Day.

Waikiki Aquarium staff will hold a beach cleanup at Kaimana Beach fronting the new Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. Staff from Duke's Waikiki are also gathering marine debris from the beach fronting the restaurant — enough to fill a Matson's container. Proceeds from Duke's cleanup will be donated to the aquarium.

Kona Brewing Co. in Hawaii Kai is also donating a portion of the day's proceeds to the Waikiki Aquarium. Diners who mention World Oceans Day or Waikiki Aquarium upon ordering food will also get 20 percent off a future meal at the pub.

Staff and volunteers from Waikiki Aquarium hold a beach cleanup on World Oceans Day. Courtesy photo.

Staff and volunteers, including director Andrew Rossiter (right) from Waikiki Aquarium hold an annual beach cleanup on World Oceans Day. Courtesy photo.

Hagadone: Restoring koa in Hawaii's forests

June 6th, 2011
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Legacy Hardwoods works to restore Hawaii's koa trees. Photo courtesy Walczuk Productions.

Legacy Hardwoods works to restore Hawaii's koa trees. Photo courtesy Walczuk Productions.

The other day, I spotted a Hagadone van outside of our office, so I ran up to the driver and asked if I could give him the stack of magazines I've been saving to recycle. He happily obliged — and I've got another stack piling up already to recycle the next round.

If you've picked up a magazine, brochure,  campaign poster or post card on Oahu, it was probably printed by Hagadone Printing Co. of Honolulu, which was founded in 1995, and is today one of the most environmentally progressive printing companies in the industry.

What you may not know is that Hagadone is also playing a role in keeping koa trees alive through the Hawaiian Legacy Hardwood reforestation project. Hagadone's clients can purchase carbon-offset credits through its partner, natureOffice USA, for specific print jobs.

KTA Super Stores on the Big Island, for instance, pays for carbon offsets for its Super Saver Coupon Book (which, by the way, is printed on paper made with 20 percent recycled paper and envrionmentally friendly inks). Those carbon offsets go towards a reforestation project at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

The amount usually isn't a huge additional cost, according to Hagadone – it's less than 2 cents for an order of 250 business cards. Typically, the cost is within 0.5 to 1.5 percent of the total order. Hagadone just signed a deal last month to become natureOffice's exclusive partner in Hawaii.

By the way, if you've got magazines or brochures you want to recycle, you can drop them off  at Hagadone's recycling center (274 Puuhale Rd.) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays or 8 a.m. to noon on second Saturdays. You can also go to any Lex Brodie's during regular business hours on Oahu. Click here for a list of magazine recycling locations.

Hagadone Printing Co., which publishes practically every magazine and brochure on the island, offers a carbon offsetting program. Photo courtesy Hagadone.

Hagadone Printing Co., which publishes practically every magazine and brochure on the island, offers a carbon offsetting program. Photo courtesy Hagadone.

Recycle. Compost. Landfill.

June 1st, 2011
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At the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, you can choose to recycle, compost or contribute to the landfill. Photo by Nina Wu.

At the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, you can choose to recycle, compost or contribute to the landfill. Photo by Nina Wu.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was inspired by the way recycling bins are set up everywhere — from SFO International Airport to the Ferry Building at Embarcadero and at the California Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park.

At the Academy, your choices are to recycle (and there are photo illustrations explaining what to recycle, including plastics No. 1 to No. 6, tin foil, and glass), compost (90 percent of your waste can be composted, including paper plates, food scraps, wood chopsticks and biodegradable utensils), or landfill (plastic wraps and rubber bands).

I thought it was an ingenious way to remind people that when we throw trash away, it doesn't just go away, especially on an island like Oahu.

So maybe we could try the same thing here — at Honolulu International Airport, the Honolulu Academy of Arts and in Waikiki, where we really need it. Unfortunately, only plastics No. 1 and 2 are recycled here in Honolulu, and we don't have a large-scale facility where compostable utensils can actually compost — at least, not yet.

Kudos to Bishop Museum for getting a solar PV system, which makes so much sense.

At SFO airport, there were bins for paper, which would be most appropriate for recycling newspapers. We should set that up here at Honolulu airport.

The compost at the California Academy of Sciences is picked up by Recology, which then goes to Jepson Prairie Organics two miles east of Vacaville, where it is converted into compost that goes to farms, vineyards, and highway erosion control projects. The Academy averages about 120 cubic yards per month from its compost bins, and 300 cubic yards per month from its recycling bins. Not bad.

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If you're heading to San Francisco, the museum is a great way to spend the day.

Check out the four-story tropical rainforest, and walk among butterflies and birds, or lean back in your seat and go on a journey to the edge of the universe while watching "Life: A Cosmic Story" at the Planetarium. The aquarium is fun, too — the fish from the Philippine Coral Reef will remind you of Hawaii.

On exhibit this summer: "Snakes & Lizards: The Summer of Slither" (May 9 to Sept. 5, 2011). Shiver! Thank goodness we have no snakes (that we know of) here in Hawaii.

The California Academy of Sciences, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is a Platinum LEED-certified building, with radiant floor heating, a 2.5-acre living roof (that you can check out), walls insulated with recycled blue jeans, a solar canopy of 60,000 photovoltaic cells that will supply at least 5 percent of the academy's energy needs, toilets that are flushed by reclaimed water, and rechargeable sensor faucets.

It's an inspiring example of what can be accomplished in green building. Even more simple is the idea of putting out three bins — one for recycling, one for composting, and one for the landfill.

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The California Academy of Sciences' 'Living Rooftop' features native plants which become a home for winged visitors including birds, butterflies and insects. The hills house the Academy's rainforest and planetarium. Skylights help bring in natural light and ventilate hot air from the building. Photo by Nina Wu.