Archive for April, 2015

Clean beach sweep

April 27th, 2015


Kailua Beach Park, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, got a clean sweep thanks to a few hundred volunteers who showed up to clean it of debris and litter in honor of Earth Day on Saturday, April 25. Photos by Nina Wu.

Kailua Beach Park, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, got a clean sweep thanks to a few hundred volunteers who showed up to clean it of debris and litter in honor of Earth Day on Saturday, April 25. Photos by Nina Wu.

It was a beautiful Saturday for Sustainable Coastline Hawaii's Earth Day beach cleanup April 25 — volunteers swept the coastline of Kailua from the boat ramp to Kapalama and beyond. And Lanikai, and Ka‘elepulu stream and the pillbox trail.

There's no official tally of the total trash haul yet, but close to 500 volunteers showed up to clean the coastline, according to SCH executive director Kahi Pacarro. It didn't feel as if a big crowd converged on the beach because everyone was spread out along the coastline and park. Among the items picked up were, of course, cigarette butts, plastic debris, aluminum cans and other litter, but also a large, flat-screen TV (that was thrown into the bushes) and some needles, too.

I checked in at a tent set up at the boat ramp and was handed — not a plastic bag — but a large, reusable Oat Alfalfa Cubes bag to pick up opala with. I came, of course, with my Hydroflask and a hat. My dog, Kona, came along to "supervise." As I made my way along the coastline, I came across several volunteers that really inspired me.

There were friends and co-workers volunteering together – they were from the military, from Better Homes and other clubs. There were families, and parents who brought their kids to teach them the importance of cleaning up a place that you love. And then there was Tyler Stenstrom, a surfer and student from Kailua Intermediate School who came with his dad and aunty, and said he just wanted to "help out the environment" and "make sure our beaches are clean."

Here are some of the folks that came out to volunteer on Saturday:

Kim Harding (below) is a marine biologist who showed up because one of her friends volunteers for Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. She brought along her daughter, Maya, 3, who enjoys "cleaning up the beach where we play," she said. Her dog, Copper, came along, too.

Kim Harding and her daughter, Maya, 3, and dog Copper.

Kim Harding and her daughter, Maya, 3, and dog Copper.

Tyler Stenstrom is a student at Kailua Intermediate School, who came with his dad and aunty to participate. He enjoys surfing. He says Sustainable Coastlines came to his school to talk about opala. "I just wanted to help out the environment and make sure our beaches are clean," he said.


Volunteers from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, one of the event's sponsors (along with Manuheali‘i and Parley for the Oceans) were all smiles at the beach cleanup.

Suzanne Reed, Tina Nunes, Debbie Lee, Colin Lee, all from Better Homes, a sponsor of the beach cleanup.

Suzanne Reed, Tina Nunes, Debbie Lee, Colin Lee, all from Better Homes, a sponsor of the beach cleanup.

Ku‘uipo Roman of Aiea was at the beach cleanup with her whole family, including kids Rayden, Raizonjhon and Royale. She discovered Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii while camping at Pokai Bay. "They were there, and we decided to see what they were about," she said.

Turns out they were cleaning the beach, and before she knew it, her whole family had gloves on and was cleaning the beach. Now she's a regular volunteer every three months. She volunteers "because of my kids." She teaches them about the impact of litter on marine life and more.

"I want them to learn that cleaning is beneficial for all of us," she said. "If we don't do our part and clean, who will? It's our responsibility."

Mom Ku‘uipo Roman with her three kids, Rayden, Raizonjhon and Royale.

Mom Ku‘uipo Roman with her three kids, Rayden, Raizonjhon and Royale. They volunteer with Sustainable Coastlines every three months.

Kailua diver and fisher John Pedro was  at the beach cleanup with his two kids, John IV, 6 and Pua, 2. They used bucket and shovel and would stop along the shoreline every so often, and with a little sandsifter, sift out the plastic debris. He actually gave me one, too, since I didn't bring one (Thanks, John, I'll be using it, for sure!)

"You have to teach them early," he said, of bringing his kids. "They're going to be taking part some day. "


Another group of friends from the military base got together and just decided to participate, to give back to the community.

Christina Gonzalez, Mindy Barkema, Maile Seifried, Jasmine Holzhauer and Stephanie Holzauer.

Christina Gonzalez, Mindy Barkema, Maile Seifried, Jasmine Holzhauer and Stephanie Holzhauer.

On an earlier visit to Kailua beach, I remember seeing pieces of polystyrene foam (itty bitty pieces) that were strewn along several feet of the shore. I picked up some of it but could not get all of it (it's so lightweight, it blows around). As I walked along, I didn't find too many large, trash items — volunteers were doing such a good job that I think they had already picked up a lot of it.  But I did find cigarette butts and microplastics.

It occurred to me, of course, that we should all do this, not just on days when there's an organized cleanup, but all the time. Every time we visit the beach. That's what I always say. Kailua Beach may be nice and clean, as of Saturday morning, but you can bet it won't stay that way for long.

By the way,  to all who asked, Kona is mostly a Springer Spaniel mix. We adopted her from the Hawaiian Humane Society, so we don't know the mix. But she loves keiki. She says thanks for all of the attention. She says everyone did a great job.

Kona is mostly Springer Spaniel, and yes, keiki can pet her. She's very good with kids.

Kona is mostly Springer Spaniel, and yes, keiki may pet her. She's very good with kids.

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Earth Day in the 808

April 22nd, 2015


Happy Earth Day!

Today marks the 45th anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. At any rate, every day should be Earth Day, right? More than 1 billion people in 192 countries are expected to take some kind of action to honor Earth Day this year, according to Earth Day Network. No matter where you are, you can sign the climate petition to save the planet.

Here in Honolulu, there are many ways you can get involved with Earth Month. Many of these are the same ones listed on Honolulu Pulse, plus some new ones.


UH MANOA EARTH DAY. All day festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along the Legacy Path on campus, followed by a concert featuring Paul Izak, Mike Love, Paula Fuga and Sam Ites at 6 p.m. Earth Day at UH Manoa will be a celebration of community groups, local vendors, music, dance, workshops and yoga. Screening of "Cowspiracy" in the Campus Center Courtyard at 10:30 a.m. Hosted by Sustainable UH with Trees to Seas UH.

ALOHA ‘AINA: A KANIKAPILA FOR EARTH DAY. To celebrate Earth Day, Hawai‘i Music Institute at Windward Community College hosts "Aloha ‘Aina: A Kanikapila for Earth Day" from 2 to 5 p.m. in the new Hale A‘o Hawaiian Studies music halau (which houses the college's new Steinway piano). Guest speakers and musicians include Teresa Bright, Ka‘ala Carmack, Mahealani Cypher from Ko‘olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club and others. Students, staff and community are invited to bring an instrument and their voice, and hula. Refreshments will be provided.

MOKULEIA BEACH CLEANUP: On Earth Day, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii hosts a small cleanup at Army Beach in Mokuleia followed by a Talk Story at Turtle Bay Resort. This beautiful, secluded beach on the North Shore is victim to pallet bonfires, land based and marine debris.

ISLAND DIVERS REEF CLEANUP: From 4 to 6 p.m. Island Divers plans to clean up the reef at Hawaii Kai, expecting to bring up hundreds of pounds of lead, plastic, fishing net, fishing line and glass bottles. Island Divers guests are invited to jump on the boat and help clean.


KAILUA BEACH CLEANUP with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. This is the beach cleanup of all cleanups, but its' more than that. It's an event, and maybe the start to a sustainable lifestyle. Volunteers, schools, local businesses and partnering non-profits are converging at the most beautiful of all coastlines — Kailua Beach — to clean. We're talking about the entire coastline — from the boat ramp to Castles, as well as Flat Island (Popoi‘a) and the Mokuluas. Hui o Ko‘olaupoko will be maintaining the canal fed by Kaelepulu Stream, and 808 Cleanups is taking care of Lanikai Beach and the pillbox trail. It's all in the spirit of inspiring coastal stewardship and fun, according to SCH executive director Kahi Pacarro. "Making community service fun along with our 'do something' attitude is spreading and we encourage you to join us." Check in is at 9:30 a.m. at all seven public beach accesses in Kailua. After the cleanup, from noon to 3 p.m., SCH hosts a free "Thank You" concert featuring Mike Love and friends, along with guest speakers and prize giveaways. Bring a reusable water bottle, suncreen and wear a hat. Sand-sifters welcome, too. Getting to the beach via alternative transportation encouraged.

INVASIVE SPECIES REMOVAL: Help the Oahu Invasive Species Committee remove two invasive plant species from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lyon Arboretum, 3860 Manoa Rd. You will help remove Ardisia virens and Stromanthe tonckat at the arboretum, the only location on Oahu where these species are found. RSVP Required. Contact OISC at and visit our volunteer blog for more information:


Rent a Coupe, Support Make-A-Wish Hawaii: Starting on Earth Day, Hawaiian Style Rentals & Sales is offering a new fleet of eco-friendly Scoot Coupes. The three-wheeled enclosed mopeds can seat up to two people side-by-side and go up to 30 miles per hour. From April 22 to May 22, HSRS will donate a portion of sales form the blue and white Scoot Coupe rentals to Make-A-Wish Hawaii, which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Social media challenge: RevoluSun, a solar and smart home technology provider, invites the public to participate in its fifth annual Social Earth Day Challenge via Facebook from April 22 to 25. Document yourself doing something sustainable — whether it's riding a bike to work, recycling, composting or picking up trash, post it on Facebook with the tag #RevoluSunLiving, and it will be shared on the company page. The prize? A portable solar charger from Goal Zero, to be given for the most liked posts belonging to one RevoluSun employee and one member of the public.

Energy challenge: Take the challenge with Blue Planet Foundation using the Island Pulse real-time energy dashboard to guess how much of Oahu’s electricity will come from renewable energy at noon Wednesday April 22, April 29 and May 6. Post your guess and a selfie-with-dashboard on Instagram before midnight the day before. Winning guesses will be entered in a drawing for an iPad Mini. For Hawaii residents only. Visit

The Nature Conservancy: The Nature Conservancy invites you to hike, support nature or volunteer in Hawaii all year-long. Find the calendar here. Or share your #NatureSelfie while connecting with nature this spring on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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April 13th, 2015


Takeout waste at Restaurant Row (Waterfront Plaza), 500 Ala Moana Blvd. Photos by Nina Wu.

Do you BYOC?

Bring your own container?

For those of us that love to eat out, or get takeout, yet are environmentally conscious of all the waste it creates, it's a dilemma.

A study by the Environmental Protection Agency estimated about a third of some 251 million tons of municipal solid waste in the U.S. can be attributed to food containers and packaging.

So I admit that I get takeout quite a bit — for lunch, Monday through Friday. I've aspired to bring my own, healthy and homemade lunch to work, but it just hasn't happened.

So what can we do about it?

For starters, I usually skip the plastic bag if possible. If I'm getting takeout and planning to eat right away, then I don't need the bag. I'm glad to see that some food vendors already do this — Pa‘ina Cafe, for instance, asks if you want a bag. Sandwiches can be wrapped in paper. Clamshells, another source of plastic and polystyrene waste — are self-contained, already, and don't require a bag.

So what about BYOC -  bringing your own container?


Takeout waste at the popular Eat The Street food truck rally.

I tried it at a few lunchwagons at Eat The Street last month, and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. One vendor piled the chow mein noodle order into my glass container without much ado. Another vendor smiled, as she put her plate lunch offerings in the container, and thanked me. She thought it was a great idea.

The downside is that because I prefer glass containers to plastic, they tend to be heavy to carry around. The upside is that whatever you bring home is easy to reheat in the microwave.

Here’s the rub, though. It turns out that the state Department of Health does not allow restaurants to serve food in a customers’ owner container, based on its interpretation of Hawaii Administrative Rules 11-50-32(p)(1), which refers to a “take-home container returned to a food establishment.”

The law is confusing because it sounds as if the rule refers to a customer bringing a take-home container back to the restaurant as opposed to bringing tupperware from home.

However, the health department says it is okay for a customer to pack their own leftovers in a reusable container after a meal at a restaurant. I think I'm going to do that from now on.

It is also acceptable to bring your own cup for beverages. Starbucks, for example, will pour a latte into a customers’ own cup and give you a 10-cent discount every time you do. I'm already a regular BYOCer there — by the way, besides the steel reusable cups that Starbucks sells, I'm a fan of Hydroflasks, which really keep your iced lattes COLD.

Also, it's perfectly acceptable to BYOC (bring your own chopsticks) plus utensils. There are lovely eco-hashi chopsticks wrapped in beautiful fabric that you can take around with you, or bamboo utensils or camping gear. But if you don't want to go out and purchase anything, you can simply reach into your drawer and carry a pair of chopsticks, or a fork, or a spoon, around with you.

So who actually cares enough to do this? I’m thinking it’s a small minority, but found three other in my circle of acquaintances.

>> Amanda Corby Noguchi, wife of Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi and co-founder of Pili Group, brings her own pair of wooden chopsticks and a wooden spork (combination of spoon and fork) in her purse wherever she goes. She uses them both for herself and one-year-old daughter, Elee.

>> Publicist Lacy Matsumoto, owner of Urban Pacific Communications, has been bringing her own food containers to take leftovers home for about three years. When in a bind, she’ll opt for restaurants that use biodegradable containers. She swore off straws after seeing so many pieces of them strewn along the shoreline at a beach cleanup. “At the end of the day, I know I’ve reduced my waste in some way,” she said.

>> Microplastics artist Shannon McCarthy says it’s easy to BYOC. She makes most of her meals at home in a Mason jar, but will also bring one with her for takeout. She also carries a pair of chopsticks with her, as well as a multiple-use camping gear tool equipped with knife, fork and spoon. Mason jars work well for soups, salads, and beverages.

160 Humpback Whales

April 3rd, 2015

Humpback whales spotted off the coast of Oahu. Volunteers counted 160 in March. Courtesy NOAA.

Humpback whales spotted off the coast of Oahu. Volunteers counted 160 throughout the Hawaiian isles in March. Courtesy NOAA/Photo by Nicole Fisher.

A total of 160 humpback whales were counted on the morning of Saturday, March 28 during the 20th anniversary of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count.

More than 600 volunteers collected data from 57 sites statewide, and spotted the 160 whales from shore, mostly between 9:30 to 9:45 a.m. What's interesting is that the sites that reported the highest average number of humpback whales were predominately located within sanctuary boundaries.

On Oahu, an average of three humpback whales were counted per 15 minutes. Volunteers at Diamond Head, Lanikai and Turtle Bay Resort were able to see several in one morning. On Kauai, an average of two whales were counted per 15 minutes. On Hawai‘i island, an average of two whales were counted per 15 minutes.

"For 20 years, the Sanctuary Ocean Count has proven to be a fun volunteer activity for residents and visitors," said sanctuary superintendent Malia Chow. "It also provides important population and distribution information on humpback whales around the Hawaiian islands that we use to better understand and protect this important species."

NOAA recently announced a proposal to expand the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, which would bring boundaries out an additional 235 square miles around Oahu, Kauai and Niihau, plus include multiple marine species. Here's a summary. Members of the public are invited to submit comments to the agency on the proposed rule and draft environmental impact statement from now until June 19.

Meetings are scheduled  on the proposal throughout the isles in April and May.

The Sanctuary Ocean Count is held each year on the last Saturday of January, February and March. Volunteers who are interested in participating can register online at or call 808-725-5917 on Oahu and Hawaii and 808-246-2860 for Kauai. Volunteers are required to register prior to participating one week prior to the count date.

Related videos:

Ocean Count

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