Archive for October, 2013

Molokai Fridge Swap

October 21st, 2013

Delivering Energy Efficient fridges to households in Molokai as part of the Hui Up! program. Courteys photo.

Makoa Trucking helped deliver energy efficient fridges to households in Molokai as part of the Hui Up! program. Courtesy photo.

Let's hear it for brand-new, energy-efficient fridges on the Friendly Isle!

A total of 60 EnergyStar refrigerators were delivered to Molokai residents earlier this week as part of Hui UP! 3.0, an appliance exchange program offered through a partnership between Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaii Energy and Sust‘AINAble Moloka‘i.

Molokai residents were able to swap in their old fridges for a high-efficiency model for just $250, considerably less than retail prices. Pick up of old fridges, recycling and home delivery was included.

Francois Rogers, Blue Planet's special projects director, says the foundation is hoping to reach as many as 300 households on Molokai.

Sust‘AINAble Molokai helped with on-the-ground logistics, with help from Sears, Makoa Trucking, Island Movers and Refrigerant Recycling.

The Hui Up! program is a follow up to a CFL exchange program that replaced 36,000 incandescent bulbs on Molokai with Compact Fluorescent Lamps. As part of Hui Up! students from the Sust‘AINAble Molokai Youth Energy Team will visit the households and using hand-held energy monitors, they will measure the differences in energy usage.

Participants are expected to save an average of $374 a year (based on Molokai's electricity rate of 46 cents per kilowatt hour) on their individual electric bills. Collectively, over the next 10 years, 300 households would save more than $1.1 million in energy costs.

If you live on Molokai and are interested in participating in Hui UP!, visit or call 560-5410.

Solar power for shelter dogs

October 17th, 2013

Dogs at the Hawaiian Humane Society can now enjoy warm baths thanks to cost savings from a solar water heater donated by Bonterra Solar. Courtesy photo.

Dogs at the Hawaiian Humane Society can now enjoy warm baths thanks to cost savings from a solar water heater donated by Bonterra Solar. Courtesy photo.

Every shivering dog can now enjoy a warm bath at the Hawaiian Humane Society, thanks to the donation of a solar hot water heating system from Bonterra Solar.

The solar hot water heater will help make the warm baths possible, as well as save energy costs for the pet laundry center and dishwashers. All together, the solar water heating system should help the Society save more than $11,000 over 10 years.

Lisa Fowler, Hawaiian Humane Society's director of development, said: "Bonterra Solar's donation of a hot water system helps to provide a warm bath for our animals, which mean more of the donations we receive can go to the direct care of the 300 animals we have in residence on any given day. Utility costs for our animal shelter, veterinary clinic, and adoptions center are always rising and we consume a lot of hot water through the various programs and services we provide."

Honolulu-based Bonterra Solar, a sponsor for the annual PetWalk, has been a long-time supporter of the Hawaiian Humane Society . Bonterra installs both residential and commercial solar systems.

Solar water heaters are a no-brainer for both residential homes and non-profit groups. A home's largest energy hog is the electric water heater, according to Hawaii Energy. A solar water heater for families of four or more could save up to $600 on the electric bill per year — enough to buy 200 pairs of slippers, 800 pounds of rice or 750 malasadas. Solar water heaters also qualify for an instant, $1,000 rebate, plus federal and state tax credits. Click here to learn more.

Solar water heater installed on the Hawaiian Humane Society's rooftop, donated by Bonterra Solar, should help save $11,000 over the next 10 years. Courtesy image.

Solar water heater installed on the Hawaiian Humane Society's rooftop at its King Street headquarters, donated by Bonterra Solar, should help save $11,000 over the next 10 years. Courtesy image.

Posted in Energy, solar | Comments Off on Solar power for shelter dogs

Congrats to Enphase winner

October 16th, 2013

Congratulations go out to the La‘a Kea Foundation, a Maui-based non-profit group that won a $25,000 solar photovoltaic system from Enphase's Mahalo Hawaii video contest.

La‘a Kea, a non-profit dedicated to providing meaningful work opportunities and residential options for adults with autism and intellectual disabilities,  won the most votes with its video submission contending for the solar energy system.

The Mahalo Hawaii contest celebrates Enphase's approach to its 25,000th system installation in Hawaii by awarding a $25,000 solar PV system to a non-profit. Enphase offers microinverter technology to the solar industry, which converts energy at the individual solar module level.

There were 16 contenders, and more than 38,000 votes cast, so competition was intense.

The solar PV system will help La‘a Kea reduce their energy costs while using a renewable energy system. La‘a Kea runs an organic farm on 12 acres in upper Paia. Maui's electricity rates are more than double the nation's average, so solar PV made sense.

"We want to thank Enphase for this generous donation and the thousands of friends and neighbors who voted for us," said Donna Ting, president of La‘a Kea's board of directors, in a news release. "It was an incredible community effort. Going solar is important. It helps us to be a more responsible steward of our resources and that is a good example for our residents and the community. The savings from the solar system will allow us to continue to focus on our mission of serving Maui residents with developmental disabilities and helping them thrive in our community."

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No Butts About It

October 14th, 2013

This cigarette butt, with fresh pink lipstick on it, was on the sand at Kaimana Beach earlier this month, shortly after "Smoking is Prohibited" signs went  up. Photo by Nina Wu.

Someone littered this cigarette butt, with fresh pink lipstick, on the sand at Kaimana Beach earlier this month, shortly after "Smoking is Prohibited" signs went up. Kaimana Beach is now a smoke-free beach. All city beaches and parks will be smoke-free starting Jan. 1, 2014. Photo by Nina Wu. Oct. 5, 2013.

One of my earliest tweets ever was that cigarette butts on the beach are my pet peeve. I tweeted it again on Earth Day this year.

Ask anyone who has ever participated in a beach cleanup and they will tell you — hands down — that cigarette butts are, by far, the most frequently littered item picked up. Ocean Conservancy, which organizes International Coastal Cleanup Day, listed cigarette butts as the No. 1 item cleaned up from beaches worldwide in its 2012 Ocean Trash Index 2.1 million, to be exact.

They are also a pain to pick up because they are small and filthy (they've been in someone's mouth, plus they're made of plastic, which never breaks down, in addition to nasty chemicals) and can get buried in the sand. Besides plastic debris (which you need a sifter to get out), they are the most annoying piece of litter to clean from the beach.

So it's about time that Honolulu passed a law prohibiting smoking at our beaches. Smoking is already prohibited at pretty much the entire sweep of Waikiki beaches, including Kaimana Beach, Kapahulu Groin, Kuhio Beach as well as Sandy Beach Park. Smoking is also prohibited on the grass and picnic areas of all of Kapiolani Regional Park. At Ala Moana Beach Park, smoking is only prohibited on the sandy area, but the entire park will be smoke-free starting Jan. 1. Hanauma Bay has prohibited smoking within the nature preserve since 1993.

I understand that people have the right to smoke, if they want to, even though it's harmful for their health, in the name of freedom of choice. I do believe that there are many responsible smokers who take the care to put out their butts in the trash can or an ashtray, and that not all are littering the beach. But time and time again, smokers clearly are littering our beaches. The evidence is right there in the sand, by the hundreds and thousands over the past few decades, polluting our oceans and marine life.

That's where smokers' rights stop — when they are causing harm to others and to the environment. Furthermore, Oahu's beautiful beaches should not serve as a giant ashtray for locals as well as visitors from around the world. If we keep letting it happen, our beaches won't be beautiful, but blighted — with butts. The damage extends to the coral reef and all the life that it supports.

Starting Jan. 1, all city beaches, parks, swimming pools, playgrounds, athletic fields, tennis courts and bus stops will be smoke-free, as well. To see where all of Honolulu's parks are, visit this link. The fine is $100 for the first offense, up to $500 for the third. Honolulu Police Department will enforce the law, but let's hope people use common courtesy and take their smoking elsewhere.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is also banning all tobacco products, including cigars, cigarettes and e-cigarettes, on its campus starting next year.

Honolulu is not the first to implement smoke-free beaches. Other municipalities — from Manhattan Beach, Calif. to New York  City have done so, too, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Click here for a full list. France's Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, also said she would like to see smoking banned at parks and beaches (coincidentally, it seems, one day after Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed Bills 25 and 28).

Kudos to all of the hard-working volunteers and organizations, like B.E.A.C.H., Surfrider Foundation and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii who work so hard to keep our beaches clean.

To learn more about the law, visit If you have questions, call Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation at 808-768-3003.

Posted in Marine Life, Ocean, Plastic | Comments Off on No Butts About It

Mokuleia Beach Cleanup

October 11th, 2013

Surfrider Foundation partners with the Hawaii Polo Club for a beach cleanup at Mokuleia this Saturday. Photos from

Surfrider Foundation partners with the Hawaii Polo Club for a beach cleanup at Mokuleia this Sunday. Photos from

The Surfrider Foundation, Oahu Chapter, hosts its next beach cleanup at Mokuleia on Sunday (Oct. 13). The first 100 volunteers will get free entry into the polo match at Hawaii Polo Club plus a free lunch.

October is also Rise Above Plastics month, a campaign to raise awareness on plastic pollution in the ocean. Our ocean is turning into a plastic soup, with most of it starting as land-based litter on beaches, streets and dsidewalks. Rain washes the litter through the storm drain system, into rivers, streams and eventually, the ocean.

Surfrider Foundation.

Surfrider Foundation.

When plastics enter the marine environment, they don't biodegrade. Instead, they photodegrade into small pieces that fish and turtles mistake for food, oftentimes blocking digestion systems and causing death. Next time you go to a windward-side beach, look closely at the high tide water mark. You'll find little, itty-bitty pieces of colorful plastic in the sand.

You can make a difference, with simple, everyday actions to reduce plastic — particularly single-use plastics. Bring your own bag to the grocery store AND the retail store. Bring your own reusable cup to the coffee shop. Choose alternatives to plastic, like stainless steel or glass.

The beach cleanup takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Meet at the Hawaii Polo Club, Mokuleia, 68-411 Farrington Highway. The Hawaii Polo Club and John Hopkins University alumni group are offering free entrance to the polo matches with lunch to the first 100 volunteers.

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Rise Above Plastics

October 4th, 2013

Our ocean is turning into a plastic soup. Image courtesy Flickr/CesarHarada on

Our ocean is turning into a plastic soup. Image courtesy Flickr/CesarHarada on

The Surfrider Foundation and Teva are bringing back "Rise Above Plastics Month" in October, with the goal of educating people on the threats that single-use plastics pose to marine environments.


"Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide, comprising up to 90 percent of floating marine debris," says Laura Lee, Surfrider's director of marketing and communications.

Once again, Surfrider and Teva are offering the third annual "One Foot at a Time" plastic cleanup and art contest. To participate, artists collect one square foot of trash from their beach or community, then use the material to create a mosaic sculpture using one of the "Rise Above Plastics" templates.

This year, the templates are Halloween-themed, and include a bat, pumpkin, ghost, spider, skull or the Teva logo.

Snap a photo and email to Prizes for winners include gear from Teva, Firewire Surfboards and the Surfrider Foundation. Also, anyone who renews their Surfrider Foundation membership or donates $35 this month receives two Halloween-themed, reusable ChicoBags.

Here's a look at the single-use plastics we use on a daily basis in Honolulu (and simple ways to change this):

>> Plastic forks, spoons and knives. I admit to being guilty on this one, even though I know better, often when getting takeout lunch during the work week. The solution is simple — just bring your own fork from home or buy one of those bamboo utensil sets that you can carry with you (which I have, but often forget). At the very least, if you forget, you can always reuse plastic forks, turning them from single-use to multiple-use.

>> Plastic cups and straws. If you're a daily iced coffee or espresso drinker like me, then you probably get a single-use plastic cup and straw which you throw away after you're done drinking your beverage. The solution is to bring your own cup and reusable straw. Starbucks and many other cafes sell them. Starbucks even gives you a 10-cent discount for bringing a personal cup, which adds up after awhile.

>> Plastic grocery bags. Sure, we all reuse them to line our trash cans or to pick up dog poop, but there are so many times when the bags are unnecessary. If you bring your own bags to the grocery store, kudos to you! I've been pretty good about this one for the past few years. You can reduce plastic bags further by also bringing your own bag to retail stores, which I've been trying to do more often. Also, sometimes you can just say, "No thanks!" if you really don't have that much stuff. If you are just buying a handful of apples at the store, you don't always need to bag them. Just let the cashier ring them up loose, then throw in your reusable bag.

>> Plastic bottles. Most of us are aware that those plastic bottles for water, soda and juices are worth 5-cents apiece if you redeem them at Reynold's Recvycling. If you don't have the time to do so, then you can donate them or throw them into your blue bin for curbside pickup. So there's no excuse for NOT recycling plastic beverage bottles. On the other hand, it would be better to REDUCE the plethora of single-use plastic bottles by bringing a reusable bottle to fill up with water from the cooler, tap or fountain.

>> Plastic ziplock  bags: I confess to being guilty on this one, too. I often use ziplocks to pack snacks for my son, but what we can do to reduce the use of plastic is to simply wrap sandwiches in a napkin, wax paper or how about aluminum foil? You can also buy a reusable sandwich or snack bag from ChicoBag or LunchSkins.

>> Halloween Trick-or-Treat bags: Instead of plastic, go for felt buckets or good-quality, reusable bags that you can reuse year after year. I found an adorable, felt bucket shaped like a pumpkin for my son to use at Halloween last year. We'll be bringing it out and using it again this year.

The whole mission of Rise Above Plastics is to just be more aware. RAP is also a good reminder for those of us who already know, to remember, and to do better.

Most plastic pollution at sea starts out as litter on land, including beaches, streets and sidewalks, according to Surfrider. After plastics enter the marine environment, they slowly photodegrade and break down into smaller pieces that fish and turtles mistake for food. Our ocean is turning into plastic soup.

If you're interested in learning more, visit Surfrider's Rise Above Plastics page or check out this great educational toolkit. Surfrider also offers these 10 simple ways to rise above plastics.

Posted in Green events, Lifestyle, Marine Life, Plastic | Comments Off on Rise Above Plastics

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