Archive for August, 2014

The recycling paradox

By
August 26th, 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.

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

By
August 22nd, 2014



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

By
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.

 

Posted in Marine Life, Ocean | Comments Off on Expanding a monument

A monk seal film

By
August 11th, 2014



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."

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