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Waimanalo beach

May 25th, 2015


So, there you have it.

Prof. Stephen Leatherman of Florida, aka Dr.  Beach, has put Waimanalo Beach Park at the top of his annual "Top 10" beach list. A recent Associated Press story spoke of Waimanalo's "powdery white coral sand" glowing in the morning light.

Sure, the bay is beautiful, as are the sands — until, that is, you see the cigarette butts.

There they were over Memorial Day weekend, more than 12, all near the base of an ironwood tree. Someone, or some persons, apparently smoked a whole pack right there, leaving their butts in the sand, even though smoking has been banned at all city beaches and parks on Oahu.


Of course, there were cigarette butts also strewn along the naupaka planted at the top of the shoreline.

This is actually along one of the beach access points along the stretch of Waimanalo Beach, and not the one near the homeless encampment closer to the city's parking lot, lifeguard station and restrooms, which also need help.

Has Dr. Beach actually walked along Waimanalo Beach? I know he's aware of marine debris issues. The windward side of Oahu actually rakes in most of the debris from throughout the Pacific. This was documented by NOAA's aerial marine survey. Of the 176 debris sites recorded during the survey, 171 were on the windward side of islands. Kahuku has the most dense accumulation of debris, but the beaches of Waimanalo also get a good share of it.

Dr. Leatherman was quoted by the Associated Press as saying: "Cigarette butts are the number one form of litter on beaches – plastics in terms of volume but in terms of numbers it's cigarette butts — so I'm starting to give beaches extra credit for no smoking."

Well, Dr. Beach, marine debris is pretty much embedded all along the shoreline of Waimanalo Beach. Walk along the shoreline and you will see small bits of plastic — blue, light blue, white — itty, bitty pieces of plastic film (perhaps from shopping bags?), pieces of worn out string and pieces of straw embedded in the fine sand.

Look closely, and you will see it.


Once, standing at the shoreline, I watched as larger chunks of marine debris danced along the waves. Among them: what looked like corners of plastic boxes, a rice paddle and bottle caps. Eventually, the ocean spat these pieces out on to the shore — other pieces continued to dance in the waves.

On windy days, this is also a spot where you should watch out for stinging Portuguese man-o-wars.

As far as larger chunks of litter go, there was a water bottle, a forgotten baseball cap crusted with sand and half of a boogie board left on shore. So next time you visit Waimanalo Beach, pick up some of this debris or litter along the shoreline and help make it a better place. There's a non-profit called 808 Cleanups that encourages you to do so, and to post it to social media.

I think Dr. Beach should compile a list of the "Top 10 Beaches to Clean," and most certainly, Waimanalo Beach should be on it.




Inspiring #808cleanups

May 11th, 2015

The original group of hikers behind 808 cleanups  beneath Koko Crater Arch.  Photo courtesy 808 Cleanups.

The original group of hikers behind 808 cleanups beneath Koko Crater Arch. 808 Cleanups founder Michael David Loftin, in red T-shirt, top. Photo courtesy 808 Cleanups.

While keeping tabs on breaking news stories, I've been wondering why there seem to have been so many hiking-related injuries and fatalities in recent months.

Some blame social media and the Internet for leading thrill-seekers and inexperienced hikers to unsanctioned trails that were formerly known to more experienced or knowledgeable hikers. Is it social media's fault? Is it today's quest to capture the coolest selfie, teetering on the edge of a mountain ridge? I don't know the answers. I know that plenty of experienced hikers from the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club have been going on some of these trails for years, without incident. Sometimes, I think it's just an unfortunate accident. No matter what, any hiking accident is tragic.

But social media can also be used in a positive way.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources has taken the strategy of using social media to warn people of the dangers of hiking Sacred Falls with this video. Interestingly, landowner Kamahameha Schools took a different tactic, sending out "cease and desist" requests, according to this Hawaii News Now report, asking more than a dozen bloggers to stop promoting hiking trails on their properties. The resulting consequences are sad – Mariner's Ridge, one of my favorite hikes on Oahu (and the one where I met my husband), is now fenced off.

Today's column features a non-profit called 808 Cleanups, which was founded by a group of avid hikers who want to use social media for good.

Founder Michael David Loftin and his friends first became concerned when they found nature tagging below Koko Crater Arch. They decided to do something about it — clean it up, educate and encourage others to steward these beautiful places on Oahu.

The mission of 808 Cleanups is "to empower communities in restoring their natural environments through decentralized beach, graffiti, hiking trail and marine debris cleanups." Volunteers from 808 Cleanups are "striving to keep these areas beautiful for future generations" through an Adopt a Site program, education and political advocacy.

So, with a decentralized philosophy, anyone can lead a beach cleanup — whether you're a party of one and two or a party of 20.

"808 Cleanups can occur many ways," said Loftin, a Peace Corps veteran and lifelong environmentalist. "I would say 80 percent are people doing their own cleanups wherever they are. Sharing the stories is really important even if its' a small cleanup."

Taking your dog for a walk on the beach? Make sure you pick up after your dog, of course, and pick up some marine debris on the shoreline while you're at it. Going for a hike with some friends? Pick up any litter that you see along the trails and carry it out with you. The philosophy is to leave it better than when you got there.

Post it to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #808cleanups and inspire others to do the same.

Follow the Leave No Trace outdoors ethic.

If people are using social media to find formerly unknown hikes, Loftin figures it can also be used to encourage people to respect nature and be responsible hikers and stewards of nature. The goal, he says, is to "make it better than when you found it."

808 Cleanup volunteers recently helped clean layers of trash from Tantalus Lookout (getting the community and Hawaii Discovery Tours involved), bonfire debris from Kaiwi Shoreline and continue to steward Liliuokalani Botanical Park, a city park that has also been neglected. Volunteers who clean a site at least twice a month and post to social media can get a free cleanup kit from 808 Cleanups' sponsor, Home Depot. Loftin usually meets volunteers on site to deliver the cleanup kits.

Find 808 Cleanup's calendar here. 808 cleanups is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Related Videos:
Intro to 808 Cleanups

Pride Rock cleanup (Lanikai pillbox hike)

Bike Month 2015

May 7th, 2015


May is National Bike Month.

The Hawaii Bicycling League kicked off with a celebration at Mother Waldron Park in Kakaako on Saturday, May 2. On Mother's Day Sunday, the bicycling league celebrates with a ride around Kapiolani Park from 9 to 11 a.m. Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 15.

Here's a list of ways to celebrate Bike Month:

May 10th – Sunday – CycloFemme – 9am-11am – Kapiolani Park – 3921 Paki Ave

Join the Red Hot Ladies and HBL this mother’s day to unite riders of all ages, genders, ethnicities, or abilities to share the joy of cycling. CycloFemme is an international event designed to encourage more females to ride bicycles. “Man”bassadors welcome too! There will be 3 different ride lengths, something for everyone!


May 15th – Friday – Bike to Work Day – 7am-9am – Thomas Square & N. Blaisdell Park Aiea

Commute to work via bicycle and stop by one of our two Energizer Stations along the way! HBL volunteers and community partners will be handing out coffee, snacks, & lots of aloha!

May 15th – Friday – Bike Month Pau Hana – 5pm-8pm – Kaka’ako Agora

Come start your Friday night off right with a bicycle themed party! Raffle and door prizes for those who use the free bike valet! We’ll be projecting bicycle movies, listening to great music, and enjoying food & drinks for small donation! Also enjoy a presentation from two cyclists pedaling around the world!

May 17th – Family Sunday at Honolulu Museum of Art – 11am-3pm

Come enjoy free admission to the “Hot Wheels” bicycle themed Family Sunday. Local groups and businesses will have bike activities, including balance bikes, rides down the cycle track, a bicycle matching game, and more. Sure to be fun for the whole family! Ride your bicycle and use the free bike valet!

May 24th – Sunday – Bike to the Zoo – 9am-2pm – Honolulu Zoo

The city and county of Honolulu is offering free admission to all who bike to the zoo! HBL is providing free bike valet!

May - September – National Bike Challenge – HBL is Local Challenge Host for Hawaii!

May marks the beginning of the 2015 National Bike Challenge. Thousands of riders from across the country will log their miles and join in friendly competition to see who can ride the most & furthest! Track using popular apps like Strava or enter manually. Compete for local and national prizes! Create workplace, school, or community teams and challenge them to ride every day!

Workshops & Presentations Calendar

May 9 (Saturday) 10:30-11:30 @ Aina Haina Public Library: Why Ride a Bicycle? Presentation

May 9 (Saturday) Hawaii Railways Society Volunteer Project - More info to come.

May 9 (Saturday) 2-3pm @ Manoa Public Library: Everyday Cycling Presentation

May 12 (Tuesday) 6-6:30pm @ Kahuku Public Library: Everyday Cycling Presentation

May 16 (Saturday) 3-5pm @ KCC: Efficient Riding Skills

May 17 (Sunday) 2-4pm @ UH: Cycling Skills 101

May 17 (Sunday) 4-6pm @ UH: Efficient Riding Skills

May 20 (Wednesday) 5:30-7:30pm @ HBL Office: Basic Bike Maintenance

May 24 (Sunday) 9:00-11:00am: Cycling Skills 101 Kailua

May 30 (Saturday) 10-11am @ Manoa Public Library: Staying Alert through Cycling presentation


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.

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.


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.

Related Video:

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

It's a girl! Monk seal pup P01

March 19th, 2015


Hawaiian monk seal pup, P01, is the first monk seal born in 2015. She was born Feb. 25. Photo taken March 7 by Nathan Yuen of

Hawaiian monk seal pup, P01, is the first monk seal born in 2015. She was born Feb. 25. Frolicking in the water on the North Shore of Oahu, near Turtle Bay Resort. Photo taken March 7 by Nathan Yuen of

Hawaiian monk seal pup P01, the first pup of 2015, is close to one month old.

Monk seal pup P01 was born Feb. 25, 2015, to mother monk seal Honey Girl (R5AY) near Turtle Bay Resort just as crowds were converging for the Wanderlust Oahu yoga and music festival. She has garnered fans, far and wide, who have been documenting her in photos and videos, frolicking in the waves and nursing.

"Plain and simple, watching the pup with Honey Girl is mother nature at its best," said Donna Festa, a volunteer who runs a monk seal blog (and who is also the owner of Lanikai General Store). "There is clearly a connection between them. The pup is pretty independent but at the same time stays close to mom. Honey Girls is such a good mom, too. She raises very strong, independent offspring."

When Festa went up to the North Shore to see P01, the pup was mostly in snooze mode, with a few wiggles here and there.

Check out this awesome video by nature photographer Nathan Yuen of (at bottom).

NOAA officials announced that the pup was a girl, but the Hawaiian monk seal community has not given her an official nickname yet. She's a very active pup who sticks close to mom. Honey Girl, a fish hook survivor, is a great mom — this is, as a matter of fact, her 9th pup.

Honey Girl (R5AY) and monk seal pup P01. Courtesy of

Honey Girl (R5AY) and monk seal pup P01. Courtesy of

The Hawaiian Monk Seal pupping season lasts from February to July — between 10 to 20 baby monk seals are born during that time. Another monk seal pup (below) was born to RV06 at Kalaupapa National Historical Park in March.

Molokai pup born in March at Kalaupapa National Historic Park. Courtesy HMSRP.

Molokai pup born in March at Kalaupapa National Historic Park. Courtesy HMSRP.

Remember to give the monk seals plenty of room — about 150 feet — and let them rest. Hawaiian monk seal moms can be very protective. Fewer than 1,100 Hawaiian monk seals remain in the wild, with about 200 residing in the main Hawaiian isles, and a population decline of about 3 percent per year.

To learn more about Hawaiian monk seals, visit NOAA's page.

Related Video:

Living trash-free

March 9th, 2015

Jen Metz Kane and Adam Kane at checkout, Down to Earth Organic and Natural. They brought their own reusable bags and containers for bulk honey, raisins, mueslix and oats (and a cookie). Photo by Nina Wu.

Jen Metz Kane and Adam Kane at checkout, Down to Earth Organic and Natural. They shop with their own reusable bags and containers. Photos by Nina Wu.

You can say Jen Metz Kane inspires me.

Whereas I bring my own reusable bags to the grocery and retail store, she takes it a step further by bringing her own, reusable produce bags and purchases items in bulk. So okay, I can try to do that, too. I saw this woman at checkout once with  these reusable mesh bags for produce that gave me a flash of inspiration, but never followed through. This will be the month to try it.


Jen, an environmental educator, actually challenged herself to live a trash-free year from  Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2011 and blogged about it at

It was all prompted by news that Honolulu, with its overflowing landfills, was going to ship its trash to Washington state (remember that?). That's a pretty crazy idea, and it never panned out, anyways, when tribes from the Yakama Nation filed suit to stop it. After all, they didn't want thousands of tons of trash being transported along their reservation, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

She put a lot of thought into what to buy, avoiding items with too much packaging. She started a compost. She got creative "upcycling" items that normally go in the trash.

In one year, she made lots of compost — and just one 1-gallon Ziplock bag full of items that could not go in the compost bin or be recycled. Though the challenge is done, she continues the lifestyle.

"It's no hardship once you get in the habit of it," she said at Down to Earth Organic and Natural.

I tagged along as she and her husband, Adam, purchased a few items in the bulk section using reusable ChicoBag produce bags (and one made from an old T-shirt). She keeps all of the bags in a lauhala basket in the car. And by the way, she throws these reusable bags in with the regular load of laundry each time (so they do get washed).

From the bulk bins, she bought honey (in a reusable water bottle), mueslix, oat flour, carob chips and raisins. Bulk cocoa went into a Hershey's can from a previous purchase. Sounds like the ingredients for oat raisin muffins. To cut down on the sticker labels for bulk items, she just lists all of the items on the back of a reused business card to relay to the cashier at checkout.

Usually, she brings her own jars to buy freshly ground peanut butter and almond butter. Even a cookie from the baked goods section goes into a cloth bag, not a throw-away paper bag.

Adam Kane reusing a Hershey's cocoa can for a bulk purchase at Down to Earth.

Adam Kane reusing a Hershey's cocoa can for a bulk purchase at Down to Earth.

After Down to Earth, they headed to Foodland for local produce and fruits, plus eggs (only in the pressed paper containers, which she shreds and puts in her compost), using the reusable produce bags. At Whole Foods, she buys the freshly baked loaf of bread, requests it sliced but puts it in her own cloth bag. Then brings it home and puts it in a clean, reused bread bag.

As Jen explained, they also have a CSA (community supporting agriculture) subscription from Just Add Water that provides a lot of produce from local farms in Hawaii.

It's a lot more than what most people would do.

And yet, search online, and you'll see that there are  a few individuals publicly embracing this zero-waste lifestyle. In Oakland, Calif., there's plastic-free Beth. There's the Zero-Waste family of (video) with Bea Johnson, a Frenchwoman who lives in Mill Valley, Calif.. There's also this young woman in New York City who lives a zero-waste life. (Video).

platesnapkinsIt'll be interesting to see how Jen and Adam tackle a trash-free lifestyle with the arrival of a baby girl, expected in April. For starters, she's going with reusable diapers. At an eco-friendly baby shower, they brought their own plates, silverware and cloth napkins, and set up a little compost pail. Gifts came in reusable  bags or reused gift bags.


Kids potentially create a whole other level of consumption, from birth to toddlerhood and beyond. I write this as I try to tame what looks like an explosion of a four-year-old's (and a dog's) toys across the floor, a trail of stickers and dried out play dough on the coffee (now play) table.

Still, in future generations, I don't think the Yakama Nation, nor any community on the U.S. mainland, wants Hawaii's shrink-wrapped trash shipped to their land again. If we generate trash, we should deal with our own trash, manage it and reduce it. It all starts, perhaps, with mindfulness and a simple step.

Honolulu's plastic checkout bag ban goes into effect July 1. It includes the plastic checkout bag so many of us have taken for granted for so many years. It does not include the produce bags you find inside grocery stores for vegetables, fruits and bulk items, bags used to wrap meat or flowers, nor does it include plastic bags for takeout food from restaurants and lunch wagons. Find the details at You can follow Jen on Twitter @trashfreeyear.

Target's bagless move

March 7th, 2015

Shoppers at Target Kailua's opening day, March 4, 2015. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Shoppers at Target Kailua's opening day, March 4, 2015. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Smart. Brilliant. À propos.

Target's move to offer customers no free bag at checkout at its Kahului, Maui and Kailua, Oahu stores on Wednesday was a logical step. On Maui, plastic checkout bags are banned. On Oahu, the plastic checkout ban goes into effect July 1. While the stores could have offered customers recyclable paper bags, the U.S.'s No. 2 discount chain opted to offer neither.

And you know what?

It's really no big deal. Costco shoppers already check out without bags. Why couldn't they do it at Target, another big-box retailer, as well?

For those of us who've already been bringing our own bags to shop for years, the response is – great! No big adjustment.

The Minneapolis-based retailer also offers customers 5-cents credit for each bag you bring in. That's better than Safeway next door, which offers nothing, although I do like their self checkout option. Whole Foods Market Kailua a block away offers 10-cents credit (and the checkout cashiers always say "thanks!").

Are there going to be some customers griping, while juggling loose items all the way to the car? Maybe.

The ubiquitous plastic checkout bags, which have been given away for free, are really not. There's an additional cost built into the overhead by businesses and there's an environmental cost that should be calculated as well. The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store, according to reuse; the U.S. goes through about 100 billion single-use plastic bags at a cost of $4 billion to retailers a year. Every square mile of ocean has about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

Maybe it's time we stopped taking this convenience for granted.

And maybe big-box retailers like Target can play a role in this cultural shift. I did think it was smart for the retailer to offer a 99-cent reusable bag at checkout that customers could purchase —you have to wonder how many Target sold when people discovered they wouldn't be provided bags (Target gave them away for free on the first day).

Target has been offering the 5-cents credit for reusable bags since 2009, according to this USA Today article. Interestingly enough, the same article says that CVS (owner of Long's Drugs) offers participating customers $1 cash bonuses every four times they buy something but don't request plastic bags. I'm not sure whether this program is in effect at our local Long's Drugs. Cashiers there don't promote it.

By the way, in case you don't know, Honolulu's July 1 plastic bag ban  will not allow businesses to provide plastic checkout bags, but will allow for reusable bags, compostable plastic bags and recyclable paper bags. There's still debate about how environmentally friendly compostable plastic bags really are. And paper, even recyclable, isn't necessarily better than plastic.

The ban will not cover bags for loose items like fruits, vegetables, frozen foods, takeout bags from fast food restaurants and lunch wagons, or newspaper bags. has more details and a full list.

What do you think? Was it a good move for Target to go bagless?

Murals at the entrance of Target in Kailua  by local artist Leah Kilpatrick Rigg on Monday, January 26, 2015. Photo by Krystle Marcellus.

Murals at the entrance of Target in Kailua by local artist Leah Kilpatrick Rigg on Monday, January 26, 2015. Photo by Krystle Marcellus.