Archive for the ‘Plastic’ Category

#oceanfriendlyhi restaurants

By
June 8th, 2016



The Medi Bowl - Kalo falafel, fire-roasted baba ganoush, beet hummus, refreshing millet tabouleh over a bed of greens drizzled with a special herb tahini sauce - is served up in a wood bowl at the Ai Love Nalo Restaurant in Waimanalo. Photo by Bruce Asato.

The Medi Bowl - Kalo falafel, fire-roasted baba ganoush, beet hummus, refreshing millet tabouleh over a bed of greens drizzled with a special herb tahini sauce - is served up in a wood bowl at the ‘Ai Love Nalo Restaurant in Waimanalo. Photo by Bruce Asato.

Restaurants in Hawaii can still offer takeout in polystyrene foam clamshells and plastic bags, but some are opting not to.

On World Oceans Day today (June 8, 2016), certified Ocean Friendly Restaurants, part of a new initiative launched by various non-profit groups, will offer discounts and specials if you feature them with #oceanfriendlyhi.

The Surfrider Foundation, in partnership with the Maui Huliau Foundation and Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation and Rise Above Plastics Coalition, is celebrating the statewide launch of the Ocean Friendly Restaurants program today.

What is a certified Ocean Friendly Restaurant?

It’s a restaurant that has agreed to reduce the amount of disposable plastics it offers to customers and to make sincere efforts to adopt sustainable practices for the health of our oceans.

Smoothies and this poi parfait with fresh fruits, poi and coconut flakes are served up in mason jars at Ai Love Nalo. Photo by Nina Wu.

Smoothies and this poi parfait with fresh fruits, poi and coconut flakes are served up in mason jars at Ai Love Nalo. Photo by Nina Wu.

Restaurants must, for example, agree not to use polystyrene foam for food take-out containers and offer reusable tableware for in-house diners (many offer in-house diners disposables out of convenience) as well as follow proper recycling practices. There is no fee to participate.

They must also follow at least three of the following five practices:

> Offer plastic straws only upon request or replace them with compostable straws;

> Offer all recyclable or compostable take-out beverage containers;

> Provide non-plastic takeout bags only upon request;

> Provide only compostable utensils for take-out upon request;

> Agree not sell beverages in plastic bottles.

“All of us need to have responsibility, whether it’s the producer or the consumer or the government,” said Rafael Bergstrom, Oahu chapter coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation. “The only way we’re going to make change getting single-use products out of our waste stream is if it’s bought into at all levels.”

While consumers are still encouraged to say no to straws, bring their own reusable water bottles and bags, Surfrider wanted to recognize businesses that were “doing the right thing already," even if not legally required to do so.

The new program started with Surfrider’s San Diego chapter and began making its way across the isles in April.

Ocean Friendly Restaurants in Hawaii include about 50 well-known names, including Ai Love Nalo, Downbeat Diner, Chef Chai, The Counter at Kahala Mall, Wahoo’s Fish Taco and Cholo’s in Haleiwa.

On Maui, some popular spots include the Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao, Cafe Des Amis in Paia and Bamboo Fresh in Lahaina and in Hilo, Pineapple's Fresh Island Cuisine and Le Magic Pan.

If restaurants comply with all eight criteria, like the Kona Brewing Co., they’ll be certified as a platinum level Ocean FriendlyRestaurant.

The focus is currently on reducing plastic pollution from getting into the waste stream, and not so much on sourcing food from local farms or sustainable seafood, though many Ocean Friendly Restaurants also adopt those practices. Down the line, Bergstrom said the initiative might recognize these as well.

Participating restaurants get a “We Are an Ocean Friendly Restaurant” decal to display, promotion via the website and Facebook page and rack cards to help educate customers. Volunteers from the non-profit groups are certifying the restaurants. Nominations are accepted online at oceanfriendlyrestaurantshawaii.org.

Follow @oceanfriendlyrestaurants on Instagram for updates.

Posted in Marine Life, Ocean, Plastic, World Oceans Day | Comments Off on #oceanfriendlyhi restaurants

Coastlines full of plastic

By
June 6th, 2016



Most of the marine debris in the Hawaiian isles is made up of plastic, very small pieces of plastic. Courtesy DLNR.

Most of the marine debris in the Hawaiian isles is made up of plastic, very small pieces of plastic. Courtesy DLNR.

It's confirmed. Most of the marine debris landing on Hawaii's shores is made up of — plastics. Very small plastics.

An aerial survey by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and North Pacific Marine Science Organization of all coastlines in the eight main Hawaiian islands shows that plastics constitute most of the marine debris landing on our shores.

The sparsely populated island of Niihau had the highest concentration of debris, at 38 percent, compared to Oahu, which had the lowest, at 5 percent.

A very limited amount of debris was associated with the Japan tsumani, according to DLNR chair Suzanne Case. The study was funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan as part of the Japan Tsunami Gift Fund.

Multiple photos were captured every 0.7 seconds from a Cessna 206 about 2,000 feet above ground.

"Most of what was mapped is common, everyday items that someone haphazardly tossed onto the ground or directly into the water," said Case. "These items get caught up in ocean currents and unfortunately much of it eventually lands, mostly on north and east facing shores. Hawaii is recognized around the world for our beautiful beaches. Unfortunately we cannot say they are pristine, because they've been so seriously impacted by our trash."

The following is a synopsis of the full report which used imagery analysis for the aerial survey conducted between August and November 2015.  (from highest to lowest):

Niihau — Identified a total of 7,871 pieces of marine debris. Most of it was plastic (46 percent), followed by buoys and floats (35 percent). The greatest density of debris were found on east-facing shores.

Molokai — Identified a total of 2,878 piece of marine debris, 37 percent plastic, 35 percent buoys and floats. Concentrated on the northwestern shores and a small area on the northeastern corner of the Friendly Isle.

Hawaii — Identified a total of 2,200 pieces of marine debris, 52 percent plastic. Concentrated on the southeastern tip of the island around Kamilo Point.

Kauai — Identified a total of 1,849 pieces of marine debris, 49 percent plastic, concentrated on the eastern shores.

Lanai — Identified a total of 1,829 piece of marine debris, 53 percent plastic, concentrated on the northeast coast.

Maui — Identified a total of 1,749 pieces of marine debris, 40 percent plastic, concentrated on the northern side around Kahului.

Kahoolawe — Identified a total of 1,298 pieces of marine debris, 47 percent plastic, concentrated on the northern tip of the island and the Keoneuli area on the eastern coast.

Oahu — Identified a total of 984 pieces of marine debris, 63 percent plastic, concentrated on the northern tip around Kahuku.

Boat that landed on Hawaii shores from the Japan tsunami. Courtesy DLNR.

Boat that landed on Hawaii shores from the Japan tsunami. Courtesy DLNR.

On March 11, 2011, the Tohoku Earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated Japan, creating millions of tons of debris that got swept into the ocean. The first confirmed tsunami-related debris that landed on Hawaii's shores was a blue plastic, fishing container on Sept. 18, 2012 off Makapuu. Since then, 21 vessels and an assortment of buoys, fishing containers, signs and other items have been recovered in Hawaii.

Plastic debris, Kahuku Beach on Oahu. Courtesy DLNR.

Plastic debris, Kahuku Beach on Oahu. Courtesy DLNR.

Wildlife become entangled in nets and lines, or mistakenly eat pieces of plastic and foam, confusing them for food. The report (p. 41) includes photos of endangered monk seals on Niihau resting on beaches littered with marine debris, including plastic and derelict fishing gear.

Marine debris. Courtesy DLNR.

Marine debris. Courtesy DLNR.

The debris was classified into seven categories, including buoys and floats, foam, derelict fishing gear, plastic, tires, other (includes processed wood, metal, cloth, abandoned boats) and inconclusive. Below, some plastic debris and a tire.

Marine debris, Kahuku, north shore of Oahu. Courtesy DLNR.

Marine debris, Kahuku, north shore of Oahu. Courtesy DLNR.

The most common type of debris found on all islands was plastic, making up 47 percent of the overall composition of debris identified, and at least 37 percent of the debris on any individual island.

On Oahu, Hawaii's most populous island, marine debris was concentrated on the northern tip of the island, on the east-facing shore between the northernmost point and Kahuku area. But a whopping 63 percent was identified as plastic. It's possible that the lower concentration of marine debris on Oahu reflects continuous beach clean-up efforts by local residents and conservation organizations, according to former DLNR Marine Debris Coordinator Kirsten Moy.

Kahuku

So what are the next steps? To use the data to organize and plan cleanup efforts, as well as to develop a community-accessible database to distribute the debris data and track removal efforts throughout the isles.

Related video featuring Kirsten Moy, DLNR's former Marine Debris Coordinator (courtesy DLNR):

Our plastic lives

By
February 5th, 2016



The World Economic Forum's latest study predicts there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Photo from firmm.org.

The World Economic Forum's latest study predicts there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Photo from firmm.org.

It's hard to imagine a life without plastic.

Even if you're conscious about plastic pollution issues and the amount of plastic debris in the oceans, there is plastic in your life.

If you drive a Toyota Prius hybrid, you're driving around in a car with parts made from plastic.  If you have an Apple laptop, you're typing on a keyboard made from plastic. If you've got a kid in school, plastic Ziploc bags were probably on the list of school supplies to buy at the beginning of the year.

You buy something from Costco, and chances are it's wrapped in plastic even if you carted it home in a cardboard box. It's a material that has so many uses, and I've got to admit that when it comes to picking up dog poop, you want something like a plastic bag to pick it up with.

But it's also mind-boggling when you learn that the world's oceans are on track to contain more plastic than fish (by weight) in 2050, as predicted by the latest report released by the World Economic Forum.

The report also finds:

>> The use of plastics has increased twenty-fold in the past half-century is expected to double again in the next 20 years. Plastic packaging represents about a third of the total volume of plastics used.

>> After a short, first use, about $80 to $120 billion in plastic packaging material is lost to the economy. Only about 14 percent of plastic packaging is actually collected for recycling.

>> Each year, at least 8 million tons of plastics end up in the ocean, the equivalent of one garbage truck dumping its contents into the ocean every minute. If business continues as usual, the ocean is expected to contain more plastics than fish in weight by 2050.

There's a solution to all this, though, according to the WEF, if we embrace a New Plastic Economy where plastics never become waste, but re-enter the economy as items of value. If we were to reduce all of the plastic packaging that we toss away, but adopt more reusable packaging. Plastic packaging producers and plastics manufacturers would play a critical role.

The new "Plastic Fantastic?" exhibit opened at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House on Wednesday, Feb. 3. It offers a historical retrospective on the use of plastics over the last century, but also offers us a glimpse of the material through contemporary art. It's up until July 10.

What do you do to reduce your use of plastic? 

This sculptural piece made from reused plastics is by artist Aurora Robson. It's entitled "Midas." Courtesy Aurora Robson.

This sculptural piece made from reused plastics is by artist Aurora Robson. It's entitled "Midas."
Courtesy Aurora Robson.

Singer Jack Johnson with students from Kamaile Academy examine a photo of an albatross carcass from Midway by Seattle artist Chris Jordan on display at the Plastic Fantastic? exhibit at Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Singer Jack Johnson with students from Kamaile Academy examine a photo of an albatross carcass from Midway by Seattle artist Chris Jordan on display at the Plastic Fantastic? exhibit at Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Kim and Jack Johnson talk about the new Plastic Fantastic exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Kim and Jack Johnson talk about the new Plastic Fantastic exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Spalding House. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Works of art by New York artist Aurora Robson suspended from the ceiling at Spalding House's Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Works of art by New York artist Aurora Robson suspended from the ceiling at Spalding House's Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

 

Jack Johnson, Kim Johnson, founders of the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and Aaron Padilla, curator of Spalding House, pose before one of the sculptures before it was unpacked for the Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Jack Johnson, Kim Johnson, founders of the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and Aaron Padilla, curator of Spalding House, pose before one of the sculptures before it was unpacked for the Plastic Fantastic exhibit. Photo by Dennis Oda.

Related video:

Posted in Lifestyle, marine debris, Plastic | Comments Off on Our plastic lives

Plastic mural contest

By
January 28th, 2016



Winners of last year's Plastic Free Hawaii School Mural Contest, Iroquois Point Elementary School, with their tree of knowledge. Courtesy KHF.

Winners of last year's Plastic Free Hawaii School Mural Contest, Iroquois Point Elementary School, with their tree of knowledge. Courtesy KHF.

What kind of mural can you create out of recycled plastic?

The possibilities are actually endless, given the various shades and hues that plastics come in, and the limitless imagination of students in Hawaii's schools. There's still time to enter the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's Plastic Free Hawai‘i School Mural Contest.

It's open to students, K-12, who must use plastic marine debris — plastic bottle caps or other single-use plastics — collected at beach cleanups or recycling drives, to create a mural with an inspiring message. They must be at least 3-feet-by-3-feet, but can be as big as 5-feet-tall and 12-feet wide. They should be mounted on one-eighth-inch plywood.

The deadline to email submissions (a digital photo of the mural and entry form) is Feb. 20.

Last year's grand prize winner, Iroquois Point Elementary, created a mural entitled "Tree of Knowledge" to promote responsible environmental appreciation and action through reducing, reusing and recycling. The community worked together to turn trash into treasure. To read more, visit Kokua Hawaii Foundation's link.

Other finalists last year were Kainalu Elementary, Lanikai Public Charter School, Pearl Harbor Elementary and Waialua Elementary Schools.

The murals will be judged on use of found or reused materials, visual appeal, creativity and integration of the theme. The grand prize is a water refill station for the school, while runners up receive a waste-free classroom celebration kit.

Select murals will be displayed on stage at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth's "H20: The Story of Water and Hawai‘i."

Find the entry form here.

Posted in Contests, marine debris, Plastic | Comments Off on Plastic mural contest

Banning the bead

By
January 13th, 2016



 

Microbeads. Courtesy 5gyres.org.

Microbeads. Courtesy 5gyres.org.

U.S. Congress could not agree on much in 2015, but surprisingly, it agreed that microbeads in cosmetic products should go in order to protect our oceans.

In December, both the U.S. House and Senate quickly passed the "Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015," prohibiting the manufacture and introduction of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentially-added plastic microbeads.

In between golfing and dining at Honolulu's fine restaurants during his annual winter vacation here, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law Dec. 28. He might have already made up his mind to sign the bill when Congress swept it through in December. But  maybe, just maybe, he was inspired while enjoying the fine white sands of the beach in Kailua, which are embedded with a perpetual stream of microplastic debris that wash ashore.

The nationwide ban on manufacturing goes into effect July 1, 2017, while the ban on sales goes into effect in 2018.

Environmental advocates like Surfrider Foundation, 5Gyres, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Story of Stuff, which supported the "Ban the Bead" movement celebrated it as a victory. But Kahi Pacarro, executive director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii says the group would have preferred the ban go into effect sooner.

"Between now and the time it does go into effect, it allows microbead producers and consumers to continue to pollute without consequence," he wrote in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, here's what you need to know:

>> How do you know if your cosmetic product has microbeads? If your toothpaste, face or body wash lists polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene, it probably contains microbeads. A list specifically for Hawaii is available at beatthemicrobead.org/images/pdf/red-hawaii.pdf.

>>  Beat the Microbead, an international initiative, actually launched an app that lists products as red (avoid) or green (free of microbeads). Learn more at beatthemicrobead.org. Surprisingly, the list of red products include everything from 3D White Luxe toothpaste by Crest to cleansers by Neutrogena and Aveeno. The 2-in-1 wash and scrub at Victoria's Secret is on the list, too. If you click on the list for Hong Kong, you'll find several Shiseido beauty products as well.

>> Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, co-founders of 5 Gyres, study trash around the world's oceans but discovered these microbeads in the Great Lakes. Just one tube of exfoliating face wash could contain more than 350,000 microbeads. An estimated 2.9 trillion microbeads enter U.S. waterways each year. Once in the marine ecosystem, the microbeads absorb toxins that are transferred to fish that mistake them for food.

>> The tiny plastic particles, or microbeads, in these personal care products can easily be replaced with natural ones such as sea salt, apricot kernels or jojoba. The microbeads are designed to go down the drain, but are difficult to filter out through wastewater treatment systems due to their small size.

>> The Society for Conservation Biology confirmed that the microbeads pose a threat to the environment, resulting in adverse health effects in wildlife and people.

Members of the Surfrider Foundation were among supporters pushing for a bill to ban the microbeads at the Hawaii legislature last year as part of its Rise Above Plastics campaign. The bill did not pass. Several other U.S. states, including California, had passed a ban, but the federal one offers an earlier start date and covers self-defined "bioplastic" microbeads, which are also an environmental concern because they dont' actually biodegrade.

Stuart Coleman, Hawaii coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation, was surprised how fast the bill passed through Congress despite its bipartisan divide. Next, the Surfrider Foundation will work on banning polystyrene foam, which most people call Styrofoam.

"We've got to work together," said Coleman. "It's not us versus them. It's what's best for our health and environment because they're almost always related."

Video from 5Gyres:

Posted in Green health, Lifestyle, marine debris, Ocean, Plastic | Comments Off on Banning the bead

Lining trash cans

By
August 19th, 2015



So what do you line your trash can with when there's a plastic bag ban? This is the conversation we've been having since Honolulu's plastic bag ban went into effect July 1, 2015. It seems to be the No. 1 question, with some folks going into panic mode and hopping online to order the exact, same plastic carryout bags. The kind that say "thank you" on them (alright, so you can order a case of 500 for $22.50 plus free shipping which comes out to a little less than 5-cents per bag).

Except that in Honolulu, it's still pretty easy to get a plastic bag.

1. Just get takeout lunch (Honolulu's law does not apply to prepared foods).

2. Go to Wal-Mart or Times Supermarket and check out with a thicker, plastic bag that is still acceptable due to a loophole in Honolulu's law.

The idea is to reduce, then reuse and recycle — to reduce the energy that goes into manufacturing these plastic bags that we take too much for granted, and toss too carelessly. That point seems to get lost in the conversation.

"Our main goal is not to get rid of every single plastic bag, but just to stop the tidal wave of plastic bags flowing out of grocery stores and into our waterways, trees and oceans," said Stuart Coleman of the Surfrider Foundation. "And to persuade big stores like Wal-Mart and Times that they shouldn't try skirting the law by producing thicker, plastic bags that defeat the whole purpose of why we worked so hard for over five years to pass these laws."

It falls on the educated consumer to make the decision. No one's perfect. It may just mean the days of bringing home 15-20 thin, filmy plastic bags with the groceries, including two for the gallon of milk you could have just carried in the cart, are over.

The Green Leaf sought out some suggestions on alternatives. We asked, "What do you line your trash can with, if not with plastic carryout bags from the grocery store?"

Answers:

1. Consolidate and reuse (Stuart Coleman, Surfrider Foundation).

Personally, I either reuse old, plastic bags as trash liners and just dump the trash into the one big kitchen bag. Or I just don't use them in bathroom and office bins.

Stuart Coleman, manager, Surfrider Foundation, at the fashion show protesting the loophole in Honolulu's law allowing for thicker plastic bags in front of Wal-Mart Keeaumoku in July. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.

Stuart Coleman, Surfrider Foundation, at the fashion show protesting the loophole in Honolulu's law allowing for thicker plastic bags in front of Wal-Mart Keeaumoku in July. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.

2. Feed bags, reused bags. (Kahi Pacarro, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii)

What we use are feed bags from stables, reused bags from the veggie scraps we pick up from our local sandwich shop, and new bags that we buy from the store. By composting and recycling, we have only 2-3 bags of debris per week. For our bathroom cans (the size single use plastic bags are used for) we either don't line them or we use other bags that end up in our household from ordering things online from places like Amazon.com.

FeedsackKAHI

3. Newspapers

OK, so I've never tried this one, but maybe I will, with the Sunday edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Lindsay, a blogger from Australia, posted this photo of newspaper layered into a wastebasket in April 2013 when the city of Fremantle banned plastic bags. She gives step by step instructions in this blog post and says she rolls the top over for disposal.

Newspaper lined wastebasket from treadingmyownpath.com.

Newspaper lined wastebasket from treadingmyownpath.com.

4. Woven basket, no liner

Jen Metz Kane, our trash-free year blogger, says her family only uses liners for her kitchen trash container. For all other household trash: "We just use woven baskets." As for the kitchen bags, she purchases Green Legacy bags online, which are made from green energy and oxo-biodegradable. Let me add that Jen is using reusable, cloth diapers for her baby girl. To carry wet diapers or clothes, there are several "dry/wet bags" on the market. They probably work pretty well for wet swimming suits and towels, too.

This Bumpkins wet bag on Amazon is made of "easy wipe waterproof fabric, stain and odor resistant."

This Bumpkins wet bag on Amazon is made of "easy wipe waterproof fabric, stain and odor resistant."

5. Potato chip bags, milk cartons.

This hilarious video will make you laugh out loud. It suggests using half-gallon milk cartons, potato chip bags and bread bags.

I found the link  from thekitchn.com. (No More plastic bags in the trash). There really isn't an easy answer.

My answer: Reuse and compost.

What I've found personally, even though I've brought my own bags to the grocery store for years is that you still have plenty of bags that come from somewhere. I have not run out of a supply yet, so just like everyone else, I reuse them. I get them when visitors, like my mother or mother-in-law, bring them into the house. I inherited a box full of plastic bags after helping a friend at her garage sale. I reuse bread bags and newspaper bags. I know some people are using post-consumer recycled paper bags that stores are giving out, too. I like the suggestion of using half-gallon milk cartons.

Nature mill home composters. No mess, no smells.

Nature mill home composters. No mess, no smells.

We DO continue to purchase tall, kitchen trash bags from Costco, which is no different from before. On average, we use one per week. Our plug-in NatureMill composter takes care of a lot of fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, leftovers, plus egg shells that normally would go into the kitchen trash, which leaves room to consolidate the trash from the bathroom. I call it the lazy person's composter, since you just open the top lid, put in your scraps, add baking soda and sawdust occasionally. Done. (I highly commend worm and bokashi bucket composters, as well). It's doable.

Reduce, buy in bulk

Natalie McKinney, director of program development at the Kokua Hawaii Foundation, said buying in bulk, reducing waste by recycling and not buying so many single-use items can help reduce the need for multiple trash bags per week.

Plus, if you bring your own bag, you get 5 to 10-cents credit per bag from most retail stores.

Got any other ideas or suggestions? Share them with us.

Here are singer Jack Johnson's Top 10 Plastic-Free tips.

Musician Jack Johnson's Top 10 Plastic Free Ideas.

Anti-plastic fashion show

By
July 23rd, 2015



Demonstrators from Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Surfrider Foundation demonstrated against the thicker plastic bags that Wal-Mart is handing out at noon Thursday. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.

Volunteers from Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Surfrider Foundation demonstrated against the thicker plastic bags that Wal-Mart is handing out with a fashion show at noon Thursday. Photos by Cindy Ellen Russell.

More than a dozen demonstrators staged a plastic bag protest in front of Wal-Mart on Keeaumoku Street at noon today. Donning self-made creations constructed from thick, plastic bags (the ones they were protesting), the demonstrators from Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Surfrider Foundation put on an impromptu, sidewalk fashion show.

The purpose was to raise awareness over the harm that stores like Wal-Mart create when handing out a thicker version of plastic bags to customers at checkout which, they say, defies the spirit of the plastic bag ban that went into effect on Oahu July 1.

"What we're trying to do is shine a light on the fact that a lot of our local retailers are still skirting the law when it comes to the plastic bag ban," said Sustainable Coastlines director Kahi Pacarro, donning a plastic bag tie.

The Honolulu version of the law contains a loophole which allows retailers to give customers reusable bags, which is defined as a "bag with handles that is specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse." It can be made of cloth or other washable fabric or a "durable material suitable for reuse," which includes plastic that is at least 2.25 mils thick.

Wal-Mart is not the only one handing out the thicker plastic bags, which angered Anna Sabino and prompted her to start a change.org petition earlier this month. Longs Drugs, Times Supermarket, City Mill, Don Quijote, Tamura's, Thinker Toys and Chevron are culprits, too. However, Wal-Mart actually goes so far as to write the word "Sustainable" on its thicker, plastic bags, which is greenwashing at its finest.

While twirling and marching down the sidewalk, the demonstrators, which included kids dressed in plastic bag frocks, women in frilly, plastic skirts and a fully-decked-out plastic bag monster man, held signs to educate consumers about the harm that plastic bags cause.

They also handed out free, reusable canvas bags — part of a Bag A New Friend campaign that Sustainable Coastlines is running. Here's how it works: When you go shopping, bring an extra bag or bags to give to others that may have forgotten theirs or others that don't have any. Post it to social media with #BagANewFriend.

Demonstrators were also giving out their ideal, reusable bags in front of Wal-Mart on Keeaumoku Street on Thursday, part of Sustainable Coastline Hawaii's #BagANewFriend campaign.

Demonstrators were also giving out reusable bags in front of Wal-Mart on Keeaumoku Street on Thursday, part of Sustainable Coastline Hawaii's #BagANewFriend campaign.

The protestors' signs said:

>> "10 percent of the plastic produced every year worldwide winds up in the ocean." — United Nations Environment Programme.

>> "The average American family takes home 1,500 plastic bags a year." — Natural Resources Defense Council.

>> "About 2 million plastic  bags are used every minute around the world." — Earth Policy Institute

While the thicker version of these plastic bags are available, they do as much harm to the environment as the thinner versions. They end up littering beaches and waterways, entering the ocean ecosystem and take even longer to break down. They may be reused a few more times than the thinner version, but are generally used only once.

Of the four isles (Kauai, Maui, Oahu and Hawaii island), only Oahu offers this loophole. Oahu's plastic bag ban also allows for compostable bags, even though there is no commercial composting facility on the isle.

The whole idea is really to reduce the amount of plastic.

The "plastic bag monster" participated in a demonstration fashion show in front of Wal-Mart Keeaumoku on Thursday.

The "plastic bag monster" participated in a demonstration in front of Wal-Mart Keeaumoku on Thursday. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell.

The message of the demonstration was lost on Rose Pristow of Honolulu, who was sitting nearby. When she shops Wal-Mart, she takes the plastic bag for her purchases, which she had tucked into a reusable bag from Whole Foods Market. She takes the plastic bags to line her garbage cans at home, and does not see an issue with littering as long as she makes sure they go into the trash can.

"I'm for the environment, but I didn't understand what was going on," she said.

She was surprised to learn that some of the plastic bags end up at the beach.

Another shopper, Susan (declined to give last name), said she's been bringing her own bags since the ban went into place. On Thursday, she ended up buying more than she initially planned at Wal-Mart, so she used a few cardboard boxes to corral her purchases in the shopping cart, Costco-style. She keeps a bag full of other reusable bags ready in her car.

The majority of shoppers exiting Wal-Mart appear to take the thicker, plastic bags for their purchases, which are free, although a reusable bag is also available by the checkout stand for 50-cents. Many other retail stores, such as Safeway, are using paper bags while offering reusable bags for sale. Foodland offers customers who bring their own bags 5-cents credit per bag or Hawaiian Airlines miles. Some retailers, like Ross, will begin charging a fee for paper bags with handles, starting August.

Related video:

Are you ready?

By
June 24th, 2015



Global Village in Kailua has always offered a tote bag program. If you purchase more than $40 this adorable tote is free, or $5 on its own. Photo by Nina Wu.

Global Village, an apparel and gifts boutique in Kailua, offers a reusable tote bag program. If you purchase more than $40 this adorable tote is free and good for special discounts at the store on Tuesdays. Or buy it for $5. Global Village has been plastic bag-free since 2007, well before the upcoming July 1 bag ban. Photo by Nina Wu.

Honolulu's plastic carryout bag ban goes into effect on Wednesday, July 1. Similar bans have already been in place on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii island. Are you ready?

Rather than pay an extra dime for compostable bags, our Big Q poll shows most people would opt to bring their own recyclable bag. While Oahu's retail stores and supermarkets are deciding what to offer as an alternative, whether it be a compostable bag, paper bag or thicker, reusable plastic bag, consumers can do their part. Many stores, including Whole Foods Market, will give you 10-cents (Target offer 5-cents) credit for each bag you bring, and hopefully, will continue to do so after the ban.

Foodland offers customers either 5-cents credit or Hawaiian Airlines miles (3 miles per bag you bring in). Foodland is also offering a "Reuse and Win! Sweepstakes." Customers who commit to bringing in reusable bags from July 1 to Aug. 4 will be entered to win weekly prizes and a $500 Foodland gift card or $500 Hawaiian Airlines gift card.

Bringing your own bag is simple and easy. Enough excuses, already. I've heard them all. You can pick up dog poop with other bags. You won't get paper cuts from paper bags if you bring your own reusable bag. Many reusable bags are given away for free, but many are also affordable, costing as little as 99-cents or $1.99 for a quality canvas tote. Check out Nadine Kam's story for more fashionable options.

Here are some tips on BYOB (bringing your own bags)

>> KEEP THEM HANDY. For trips to the grocery store, I find that the best place to keep the bags is in the car — I keep at least a dozen in there at all times (after unloading groceries, they stay by the front door so I remember to take them back out on the way to the car). If I walk into the store and forget, then I let the clerk know I'll be right back, go to the car and get them. Consider it a short walk to get exercise. Smaller ChicoBags, EnviroSax or Baggu are also handy in a purse or another bag in case you need an extra one.

>> CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONES. After bringing your own bags for awhile, you start to figure out which ones work best for groceries versus other items. For groceries, a large, square-bottomed and insulated bag works best. This is ideal if you need to buy half-cartons of milk, soymilk, cheese, or juice or wine plus meat and other items that need to remain cold. Canvas bags work best for lighter-weight items like fruits, vegetables, cereal, bread, crackers, etc. For retail stores, go with a fashionable, lightweight fabric tote that can easily fit in your purse. Fabrics like cotton and canvas are ideal because you can throw them in the washing machine when necessary. So are the ChicoBags, EnviroSax and Baggu, which are made of nylon and also machine-washable.

>> SAY NO WHEN YOU CAN. Sometimes you really don't need a bag. Many retail purchases — a pack of batteries, a candy bar or even a dress — will fit right in your purse. I bought an adorable dress at Global Village, for instance, kept the receipt and put it straight into my backpack. The money that Global Village saves, according to owner Debbie Ah Chick, goes to two non-profits in the community. Make sure to get a receipt and keep it carefully as proof of your purchase before walking out of the store. At Ross, I oftentimes find a great deal on baskets to help organize the mess at home. The basket doubles as a container for purchases on the way out. Buying a sandwich for lunch? Skip the bag. Just take the sandwich wrapped in paper and go.

Targetsign

Target in Kailua made a smart move by offering neither paper nor plastic when it opened in February. Photos by Nina Wu.

 

LiquorCollect

The Liquor Collection at Ward Warehouse reminds patrons of the plastic bag ban going into effect July 1.

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Jack Johnson

BYOC

By
April 13th, 2015



takeoutwaste

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?

FullSizeRender

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.

Target's bagless move

By
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 it.com; 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.

Opala.org 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.

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