Archive for October, 2012

Growing Koa in Hawaii Nei

October 30th, 2012

HFIA - Koa Photo-J.B. Friday  10-27-12

Naturally regenerated stand of koa, about 15 years old, Kona, leeward Hawai‘i Island, Hawai‘i. Photo courtesy J.B. Friday.

The Hawaii Forest Industry Association is presenting the "Growing Koa in Hawaii Nei" Symposium on Hawaii island on Nov. 16 and 17, featuring keynote spaker Dr. Charles Michler.

Michler is director of both the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) at Purdue University and the Tropical HTIRC in Hawaii. He will speak on "The Right Koa for You."

Presentations are scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 in the Ohia Room at Kilauea Military Camp at Volanoes National Park followed by a pau hana reception. A field trip to Keauhou Ranch in Ka‘u is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. Participants will visit a 1978 koa stand (an example of a thinning trial) and several younger koa plantations.

The deadline to register is tomorrow (Oct. 31). Visit to register.

Leading experts in koa research and management will speak on a broad range of topics including:

>> Who's growing koa and how many acres are involved.

>> Low elevation research progress; silvicultural practices to improve form and branching

>> Plantation establishment techniques

>> The economic analysis of growing koa

>> A panel on harvesting and marketing koa

>> Recent koa research

>> Improvement efforts to date and the Hawaii Tree Improvement Research Center

Click here to see the full symposium agenda.

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Seven-year-old is HECO's energy winner

October 26th, 2012

Damon Suehiro, 7, is the fall winner of HECO's Energy Detective Guide energy pledge drawing. He poses here with his little brother, Brennan, 5. Courtesy photo.

Damon Suehiro, 7, is the fall winner of HECO's Energy Detective Guide energy pledge drawing. He poses here with his energy conservation kit and little brother, Brennan, 5. Courtesy photo.

Damon Suehiro, a second-grader, is the winner of the Hawaiian Electric Co.'s Energy Detective Guide energy pledge drawing for the fall.

Damon, 7, is a nature lover and Boy Scout who became fascinated by the solar photovoltaic system on the Omidyar K-1 Neighborhood's rooftop. He convinced his parents, Christine and Garrett, that they, too, should install a PV system on the family barn and home in Maunawili.

They did — and the result is a monthly electric bill of about $16 per month, compared to $450 a month.

Damon picked up HECO's Energy Detective Guide during a nature study program at Punahou and went to work around his home, capturing energy phantoms and bandits. For his efforts, Damon wins an Energy Conservation Kit which he plans to share with his fellow "wolf scouts."

Oftentimes, it takes someone in second grade to point out to us what we should be doing. Have you heard your kids say things like: "You should compost that, mom" and "Shouldn't that be recycled?"

Damon also enjoys baseball, jiu-jitsu, tennis, swimming, playing the ukulele and has planted an organic garden. He plans to become a paleontologist or veterinarian one day.

Congratulations, Damon!

Posted in Contests, Energy, solar | Comments Off on Seven-year-old is HECO's energy winner

On Two Wheels

October 22nd, 2012


Honolulu needs more dedicated bike lanes like this one to encourage safe biking. Photo by Nina Wu.

When I was in college, I remember biking everywhere - mostly to get to class, but also to meet up with friends at the coffee shop, to get around campus, and to shop at farmer's markets.

It was a great way to get around, without the hassle of parking (just the risk of someone stealing your bike if you didn't lock it up right). It was probably the best shape I ever was in my life, too.

Unfortunately, my bike (which I still have from college) is now neglected, sitting in the garage, with a new coat of rust.

My greatest fear of riding a bike around Honolulu is the risk of getting hit by a car — by drivers who just aren't used to sharing the road with bicyclists, someone gabbing away or texting on their cellphone (still see plenty of people do it despite Honolulu's new law) and just plain carelessness.

And working for a newspaper, I've seen every breaking news item on bicyclists hit, injured and killed by a car — from Nimitz to the North Shore.

The other day, I pulled out the rusty bike, pumped up the tires again and went for a spin. I love that feeling you get when you're on two wheels – the freedom, the wind in your hair, the mobility.

If we had more dedicated bike lanes, bike paths and a more bicycle friendly city, I think more people would get out and ride (and maybe it would ease up some of the traffic). And if there were bike-friendly routes that lead from residential neighborhoods to downtown Honolulu, it would be a viable way to commute other than sitting in stop-and-go traffic.

If Kaimuki put in bike lanes on Waialae Ave., I think it would ease the parking situation there. It's the perfect neighborhood  for bikers, with plenty of restaurants and shops.

I loved riding around on campus and along bike paths open only to joggers and bikers in California's Marin County (north of San Francisco), where you can ride for miles and miles along scenic routes. Or along the coastline of Half Moon Bay. Or along water canals.

Wish we had bike paths like that here.

Honolulu did not make the cut for America's "Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities" by Bicycling magazine earlier this year. "To make our Top 50," said the magazine, "a city must also support a vibrant and diverse bike culture, and it must have smart, savvy bike shops."

I think we do have a bike culture and cool shops (and some cool bicycle racks in downtown Honolulu), but that we're definitely lagging compared to a lot of other cities out there. Apparently, it wasn't due to our geographical isolation since Anchorage, Alaska, made the cut.

But we have so much potential. Instead of building the city around cars, we should be building it around pedestrian pathways and bikes and public transit. We don't want to become another Los Angeles, with snarled traffic as its signature characteristic.

How about if we look to cities like Portland, San Francisco, Copenhagen and Amsterdam?  If Honolulu could put its master bike plan into action, how awesome that would be.

It's Raptoberfest time

October 10th, 2012

Claire Flynt, last year's best overall winner of "One Foot at a Time" - Photo from

Claire Flynt, last year's best overall winner of "One Foot at a Time" - Photo from

It's Raptoberfest time.

That's the Rise Above Plastics version of Oktoberfest. The Surfrider Foundation kicked off the second annual "Raptober" celebration earlier last week - it's a month-long effort to educate and inspire the public to eliminate plastic waste from our oceans.

"Each year millions of seabirds, fish and marine mammals die due to ingestion of, or entanglement in plastic," said Bill Hickman, Surfrider Foundation's Rise Above Plastic Program Coordinator. "By dedicating the entire month of October toward educating the public on the effects of marine plastics, we hope to jump start their desire to reduce their own personal plastic footprints and the amount of litter reaching our seas."

Some simple things you can do (as illustrated by Raptoberfest cartoons) include:

>> If you see a friend drinking out of a plastic water bottle, encourage them to switch to a reusable water bottle.

>> If you see a a friend using a single-use plastic bag, offer them a reusable bag.

>> During the week of Oct. 15, join or renew your membership to the Surfrider Foundation for a discount of $30 and get a wallet or pocketbook handmade from upcycled plastic bags collected from Bali beaches.

Read more at "10 Ways" to reduce your plastic footprint.

Participate in the "One Foot at a Time" plastic cleanup challenge again. Here's how it works: Participants collect one square foot of trash from their beach or community, then use the material to create a unique mosaic sculpture using one of five downloadable templates on the Foundation's Raptober event website.

The Foundation will judge photo submissions of the sculptures. Winners get cool surfgear, including a surfboard, from Rusty.

Visit for more about the contest.

Posted in Contests, marine debris, Ocean, Plastic | Comments Off on It's Raptoberfest time

The Tesla S is here

October 8th, 2012

The Tesla Model S has arrived in the Hawaiian islands. Photo from gallery.

The Tesla Model S has arrived in the Hawaiian islands. Photo from gallery.

The Tesla Model S electric sedan has arrived in Honolulu and will be introduced at a presss conference Tuesday morning (Oct. 9) hosted by the Blue Planet Foundation and Volta Industries.

Concerns over limited travel range, limited seating and "sexiness" were all adressed in the new Tesla Model S, which travels up to 300 miles per charge (at 55 miles per hour), seats up to seven and accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds.

The Tesla S interior features a 17-inch WiFI control center.

The Tesla S interior features a 17-inch touchscreen with WiFi-enabled control center. Photo from

Prices start at a more affordable $49,000 (with federal tax incentives up to $7,500). The Tesla Roadster, by contrast, starts at prices over $100,000. There are also battery options that include 40, 60 and 85 kilowatt hours. Inside the Model S offers a 17-inch touchscreen with a WiFi-enabled control center.

They come in signature red, black, silver and white.

Hawaii commuters currently drive a total of 29 million miles a day, burning an average of $5.4 million in gas, emitting 13,500 tons of carbon dioxide pollution, according to Blue Planet. Electric cars offer an alternative.

Hawaii is on its way to reaching an expected milestone of 1,000 registered EVs this month.

Tesla's first run of the Model S included 3,000 vehicles. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company plans to manufacture 20,000 of the Model S for 2013. Reservations are available at

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Seeds of Hope

October 6th, 2012

Don't miss "NA KUPU MANA'OLANA (SEEDS OF HOPE)" set to premiere 3 p.m. on Oct. 13 at the Hawaii International Film Festival at the Dole Regency Stadium Theater in Honolulu.

The 86-minute documentary, directed by award-winning filmmaker Danny Miller, tells the story of how Hawaii is returning to local and traditional methods of growing food.


For more than 1,000 years, Hawaiians produced enough food to support an estimated population of 1 million, according to the film, whereas 85 percent of the state's food today is imported. If current trends continue, Hawaii's last agricultural lands will be gone by 2040.

"The film celebrates the courageous work of farmers and educators throughout the state who are growing new ideas for increasing local food production, through traditional, sustainable and organic methods," said Miller in a press release.

Besides an in-depth look at the history of Hawaii's agriculture and the role played by the state's physical isolation, the film looks at how the rising cost of shipping food across vast oceans created incentives for communities to return to the ethic of malama ‘aina and sustainable agriculture.

More than 50 farmers, ranchers, scientists and educators who shaped Hawaii's agricultural past and future are featured in the film. They include Molokai farmer and OHA trustee candidate Walter Ritte and Robert Harris, director of Sierra Club Hawaii, as well as Larry Jeft of Jeft Farms, Monique Van Der Strom of Naked Cow Dairy, Kamuela Enos of MA‘O Farms and Shin Ho of Ho Farms.

"If we're cut off from the mainland, our food supply, we're in big trouble," says Nalo Farms owner Dean Okimoto in the film. "We're in big, big trouble. For an extended period of time, we would not be able to feed our people."

The film is narrated by Puanani Burgess, with original music by Jim Kimo West.

Miller, who is based in Pahoa on Hawaii island, is the film's writer, director and editor. The film, produced in partnership with the Hawaii Rural Development Council, took three years to complete.

"SEEDS OF HOPE" has been nominated for the Halekulani Golden Orchid Award at this year's film festival. It will be screened at 3 p.m. Oct 13 as well as at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19 at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium Theater (735 Iwilei Rd.).

To learn more, visit Visit for tickets.

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Join the Plastic Pollution Conversation

October 4th, 2012

Captain Charles Moore, author of "Plastic Ocean," will return to Oahu on Sunday, Oct. 14 for  more of "The Plastic Pollution Conversation — Pacific Rim Tour 2012." He'll be at the University Laboratory School Cafeteria from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

If you haven't joined the conversation yet, now's a good time to begin.

Moore, also founder of the Algalita Marine Research Institute, is eager to tell you the story of how he first stumbled upon plastic debris, now known as the Pacific Garbage Patch sailing from Hawaii back to California after a yacht race — how the "plastic soup" pollution continues, and how it is harmful to the ocean as well as human health.

He'll talk about the most recently completed Algalita expedition to the Pacific Garbage Patch as well as the 2011 tsunami debris making its way across the North Pacific Gyre.

"Plastic is now a pollutant - it was unintended, but it happens to be an unintended consequence of doing everything more easily with plastic," says Moore. "The throwaway lifestyle, discard of single-use plastics has created, along with other disposed plastics, a plastic soup in our generalized ocean with garbage patches in the five major gyres. Millions of square miles of the ocean are highly polluted with the broken down products of our plastic me this requires a plastic pollution conversation."

Moore wants to bring the volume of the conversation up. Besides Hawaii, he travels to Japan, Hong Kong,  Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

"We've got to rethink our relationship with plastic," he says.

The talk is presented by Moore's Algalita Marine Research Institute, the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, University Laboratory School and Surfrider Foundation. University Laboratory School is at 1776 University Ave. Parking is available on the lower athletic field.

For more information, contact

Posted in marine debris, Ocean, Plastic | Comments Off on Join the Plastic Pollution Conversation

Method makes bottle from Hawaii's ocean plastic

October 2nd, 2012


Check it out!

Method is introducing what it calls "the world's first bottle made with ocean plastic" for its new 2-in-1 dish and hand soap.

It's made partially from plastic debris that Method employees hand-collected from Hawaii beaches over the last year and a half, in partnership with non-profit groups including the Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Just two weeks ago, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii organized a beach cleanup at Kailua and Lanikai, where more than 700 volunteers collected 11,306 pieces of microplastic.

The San Francisco-based company worked with Envision Plastics to recycle the plastic debris into bottles, which are a combination of ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic. The result is a gray resin.

Method, which makes green cleaning products, introduced the bottle to help raise awareness about the several million tons of plastic that pollute the ocean and harm the marine populations every year.

According to Method:

>> Plastics are estimated to represent almost 80 percent of the total marine debris floating in the world's oceans.

>> On average, there are 46,000 pieces of plastic swirling in each square mile of our oceans.

>> Every year, at least 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic. (You've seen the laysan albatross with stomachs full of plastic).

>> Fish in the middle depths of the Northern Pacific Ocean are ingesting up to 24,000 tons of plastic per year.

>> A total of 267 species around the world are harmed by plastic: 86 percent sea turtles, 44 percent seabirds and 43 percent of ocean mammals ingest or become tangled in plastic (Remember the beached whale on Kauai that biologists later found had swallowed plastic?)

"Through this new and innovative use of recovered ocean plastic, we hope to show how design can be used to tackle environmental problems," said Method in its card description. "We're not saying that the solution to the ocean plastic problem is making bottle out of trash, but by doing so we can prove that there are alternatives to using virgin materials — like PCR plastic, which we use in all of our bottles. By recycling + reusing existing plastic, we can turn off the tap."

Method's ocean plastic bottles of dish + hand soap hits the shelves at Whole Foods Market nationwide this week for $4.99. The biodegradable formula is available in two fragrances: sea minerals or sweet water. Also available at

Kailua cleanup: 11,306 pieces of microplastic

October 1st, 2012

Volunteers scour Kailua beach for marine debris and litter, including microplastics, cigarette butts and bottle caps during a beach cleanup for International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 15. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Volunteers scour Kailua beach for marine debris and litter, including microplastics, cigarette butts and bottle caps during a beach cleanup for International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 15. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Pieces of microplastic surpassed the number of cigarette butts in Sustainable Coastline Hawaii's latest tally of its beach cleanup at Kailua and Lanikai (including the  Mokoluas & Flat Island) on Sept. 15, International Coastal Cleanup Day.

Some 700 volunteers on that Saturday picked up an estimated:

>> 11,306 pieces of microplastic

>> 8,891 cigarette butts

>> 2,563 Styrofoam cps and containers

>> 2,146 food and candy wrappers

>> 1,533 caps, lids and tops

>> 1,385 non-nylon rope and net

>> 945 bottle  caps

>> 868 glass bottles

>> 717 rubber pieces

>> 677 plastic bags

>> 655 fishing nets/rope

>> 522 aluminum cans

>> Volunteers also picked up 462  beverage bottles, 450 large pieces of plastic, 342 personal care products, 231 utensils, 159 pieces of clothing/shoes, 108 toys, 31 lighters and 11 tires.

When volunteers participate in a beach cleanup, they also fill out tally sheets that help SCH 1) convey the true power of collective action 2) understand where the rubbish is coming from for source reduction education and 3) help initiate legislation that reduces pollution.

Microplastics, cigarette buttes and Styrofoam remain at the top of the list, according to Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, which says "refusing Styrofoam, making sure butts are properly disposed of, and avoiding purchasing plastic can make a huge difference in the health and safety of our oceans."

The data is also reported to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

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