There are a lot of ways that we already go green in our house, like composting our food waste, recycling our recyclables, and using the laundry water to water the garden but, I’m almost embarrassed to say that remembering to bring my bags in the grocery store has been one of the hardest green habits for me to develop. I always remember them when I am at the checkout when its already too late. Moving back to the islands after living in Georgia and South Carolina for nearly a decade reminded me how Hawaii as a state is much farther along than other parts of the country in making it a plastic free state. In the south most grocery stores still default to using a plastic bag if you don’t tell them differently. It’s exciting to live in a state where plastic free is becoming the norm and legislature is there to support it. Now that we at HOK are doing this plastic free challenge I am going to fully commit to bringing my own bag and say no thank you even if it’s a paper bag. How am I going to stay fully committed? I’ve decided that if I forget my bags in my car again, then I have to carry everything out and bag it in the car. I’m sure this will get old quickly and I’ll have my BYOB habit down in no time!
Did you know:
. Americans use about 100 billion plastic bags per year
. You can drive one mile with the oil required to make just 14 plastic bags
. It’s estimated to take 500+ years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill.
So, stock up on some truly reusable shopping bags. Keep some in your car or purse so you will always have them on hand. Post your challenge wins and fails with #HOKplasticfreechallenge for a chance to win each week.
HOK Staff Story...
Sunday is grocery day at my house, and it’s kind of a family affair. Not only do we like to do the grocery shopping together, but we also take time to plan our menu (so we know exactly what to buy) and prep lunches and snacks for the week. We have been in this routine for quite a few years now and it definitely helps keep us on track with healthy meals and snacks but it took time make it an easy routine.
It also took time to make bringing our own bags part of the routine. In the beginning, even if I remembered to bring bags sometimes I’d forget them in the car. Countless times I’ve stepped up to the register, reusable bag on my arm (or in my purse), watched my groceries be bagged and THEN remembered that I had my own bag. Then along came my husband, I had to buy some ‘manly’ reusable bags to get him onboard and now he even uses the bags to pack his daily lunch. WIN!
So yesterday, as we were in the checkout line, I ran outside to grab a box of cookies from the hypnotizingly cute little Girl Scouts, and then met my husband at the car. As we were loading the groceries I noticed it...a plastic bag, GASP! There it was mixed in with 4 of our 5 reusable bags, and all it had in it was the 2 packs of ground turkey. I held up the bag towards my husband with a questioning look (he knows about the month of mini challenges) and he said it was for the meat with an apologetic look. I’ll blame the bagger ;) because I would have chose to use our own bag to separate meat rather than use a plastic bag. So there we have it, challenge FAIL.
Next time I’ll try not to get distracted by the Girl Scout cookies!
As April approaches, and everyone kicks in to Earth Month mode, we are sure to see an onslaught of events, tips, and tricks to help us be more eco-conscious consumers, reduce our carbon impact or even totally eliminate waste from our lives. But for some people, these life changes can seem like that New Year's resolution that we are still planning to start; a great idea, something we desire, but we just haven't equipped ourselves with the tools to succeed.
We want to give you the tools to be able to make bigger and more permanent changes in your life. So, for the month of March, Hui o Ko`olaupoko is encouraging our supporters to join our weekly plastic-free mini challenges.
Whether you are an old pro at living plastic free or you want to learn why plastic consumption is such an issue, you can join our staff each week as we pose a new challenge and give you the tips to succeed.
Every Saturday evening we will post the week's challenge to our Facebook & Instagram page. We want you to post pictures of your challenge successes (and fails) with the hashtag #HOKplasticfreechallenge for a chance to will HOK logo gear each week.
The first challenge will be posted the evening of Saturday March 3rd, so stay tuned!
Great websites for plastic free living resources...
Local Organizations... Sustainable Coastlines, Plastic Free Hawaii, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, 808 Cleanups.
For the beginner... One whole week seem too tough? Start small with plasticfreetuesday, One day a week no plastic consumption and no plastic waste.
The next step...zerowastechef poses challenges that may take you a few days or multiple weeks to get the hang of.
Step up your game... Think you are ready to go totally waste free? Check out this woman's journey to being able to live virtually wast free for 2 years.
And of course, the universal hashtag plasticfreechallenge, A social media event to focus on solutions to the plastic pollution problem fueled by your creative contributions, Take the Challenge Share Your Experiences.
Woah, February sure snuck up on us!
We have had our heads down working hard to keep the weeds at bay during this wonderful rainy winter weather. While the weeds have been growing strong, so have the native plants. Check out this two year old Ma'o Hau Hele (hibiscus brackenridgei), our State Flower, that is growing at the He'eia Estuary Project.
Did You know that each Ma'o Hau Hele flower blooms for just one day?
We are happy to announce that we will continue to host Third Saturday Workdays at the He'eia Estuary Restoration Project as we continue to keep the mangrove at bay, out-plant more coastal native species and work for funding to expand the restoration efforts and increase opportunities for educational field trips!
We will also continue to host Second Saturday Workdays at our urban project sites. Workdays will rotate quarterly between Kaha Garden (February 10th & May 12th) and Windward Community College Hale 'Imiloa Rain Garden (April 14th).
Thank you for your support of Hui o Ko'olaupoko as we continue our work on public land project sites. We hope you will have an opportunity to experience one of our amazing project sites with us in 2018.
Please visit our website to view our current projects and upcoming events.
Another year has come and gone, but we couldn't let it slip away without taking some time to recognize all of the amazing volunteers that lent a hand throughout 2017 and all of the work they accomplished.
We are so grateful to the 1,267 volunteers who donated over 3,700 hours to 49 events at various HOK projects across Ko'olaupoko. HOK is an entity with a small staff, two full-time and one part-time employee. The amount of volunteers we have had over the last 9 years equals a staff of over 20 full-time employees. Let me break that down... that's over 15,00 volunteers who have donated over 45,500 hours of service! So it really should go without saying, it's the volunteers that make HOK successful!
Here at HOK we are excited for 2018, watching current restoration sites mature and kicking off a new project with in the He'eia Estuary site (details to come in a few months), revisiting some of our older project sites, and of course - continuing to work with the community to have a positive impact on our natural environment through restoration and education programs.
Speaking of He'eia Estuary, have your driven on Kamehameha Highway near the pier lately? Thanks to all of the HOK volunteers, hardworking invasive species removal contractors and our neighbors at the State Park and He'eia Fishpond, you can now see the ocean from the road and we are beginning to make a dent in the wall of massive invasive mangrove trees and we will continue to out-plant native plants on these 5 acres in 2018.
We will be continuing our monthly community workdays atHe'eia Estuary on the third Saturday every month and we will continue second Saturday workdays which will rotate quarterly between Kaha Garden and the Rain Gardens at Windward Community College, so be sure to check our calendar for dates and details.
Ultimately, we hope our work inspires you to take action, manifests action at the government level and can provide inspiration to the development industry to incorporate native plants, a rain garden or other ʻgreen buildingʻ techniques into new building designs and prioritize funding for ecosystem protection.
Mahalo for all your support over the years and in 2017. We look forward to working with old friends and partners and meeting new ones in 2018.
Have you ever had a project, life event, or other big undertaking that has had you looking for the light at the end of a very long tunnel? Iʻm sure we have all been in a similar position and eventually we have reached the end of that tunnel and basked in the bright, warm sunlight.
For Hui o Koʻolaupoko, that tunnel has been a three year and five acre journey of invasive mangrove removal at Heʻeia Estuary and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Literally, we can finally see the sunlight shining through the trees. What was once a dense, dark forest of invasive mangrove has now been restored to a visible stream channel, thousands of native plants, and an open estuary and mud flats where native shorebirds are foraging once again.
Thanks to over 1700 volunteers, project partners, and neighboring non-profit organizations who assisted with mangrove removal efforts, HOK has successfully cleared five acres of mangrove from Heʻeia State Park property. Now, when you drive on Kamehameha Highway towards Heʻeia Kea Pier, the ocean, estuary and historic fishpond wall can be seen from the road immediately after the bridge! Not only has the work included mangrove removal and native species out-plantings but HOK has established a coastal walking trail and interpretive signage will be installed in the coming months.
The past three yeas of work has been funded in part by grants from the Hawaii Department of Health: Clean Water Branch, The Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership, The Laura Jane Musser Foundation and the Hawaii Community Foundation.
As these grants come to a close at the end of 2017, we know that our work at the estuary is not yet complete. HOK is honored to announce that with a generous grant from Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation, HOK will continue to attack the invasive weeds and out-plant natives at this and all of our other project sites in 2018!
Watershed News Protecting Hawaii's Precious Water Supply
By Mileka Lincoln, Reporter Hawaii News Now
WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow)
The sun is rising over the Waianae Mountains as more than a dozen conservationists, biologists and volunteers prepare to make their way through the bog and tricky terrain of the Ka'ala Natural Area Reserve. They have one ultimate goal-reintroducing Native plants to our rainforests, and in turn preserving our fresh water.
"We actually have dwindled our water supply in O'ahu. In the last hundred years, we've lost half of the main water supply," said Emma Yuen, a Natural Area Reserve system planner for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The group is heading to the highest point on O'ahu-more than 4,000 feet above sea level-to scale down the steep ridges and find a place to plant one of Hawaii's most endangered species, the kamakahala.
"The Native Hawaiian forest captures water better than any other forest in Hawai'i," said Marigold Zoll, the Native Ecosystems Protection and Management O'ahu branch manager for DLNR. "Whereas a non-native forest the rain goes right through it and washes the soil away-the Native Hawaiian forest captures that water and slows it down and it's able to percolate into the aquifer and provide us with fresh water."
Planting native species like the kamakahala is a very important part of the restoration process, but finding a micro-habitat where plants like these can survive is not an easy task. Ka'ala is the only place kamakahala is found in the Hawaiian Islands.
"I think the kamakahala is just a representative example of the plight of the Native Hawaiian plants in general," said Kapua Kawelo, a biologist with Army's Natural Resource Program on O'ahu. "All these beautiful trees and mosses that are the sponge of our Hawaiian rainforest that provide us with our fresh water-are all working in conjunction with each other. So if one piece is removed from that, than its sort of just a slippery slope and other things are likely to follow."
Experts say protecting mauka forest areas is the most cost effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater. "The less water we have the more expensive it is to harvest it, to pump it, to supply it to everyone. So as the water level goes down it make water less affordable for everyone," said Yuen. "Without it we have no agriculture, we have no economy, we have no tourism. We can't live here without water, it affects us all." Forests are considered so crucial to our water supply - it's recognized in an ancient Hawaiian proverb "Hahai no ka ua i ka ululâ`au," meaning: "the rain follows the forest".
"We want to make sure that for the future generations there is plenty of water because that is the source of all life and we're out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - we can't just move on to other land, we've got to take really good care of what we've got," said Lisa Ferentinos, a DLNR Natural Area Reserve watershed partnerships program planner.
There used to be less than 75 kamakahala in the wild, but Friday's efforts have tripled their population-- 150 of them were planted in the Waianae Mountains. The outplanting is a collaborative effort with the Oahu Army Natural Resource Program (OARNP) Board of Water Supply, Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership, Plant Extinction Prevention Program, and the Natural Area Reserves System (NARS, DLNR).
Follow Mileka Lincoln on Facebook: facebook.com/MilekaLincoln.HNN or on Twitter: twitter.com/MilekaLincoln
Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now
All rights reserved.
This year has flown by and the holidays are right around the corner. With some exciting new projects coming up HOK is sure to be busy during these final months of 2017. To help us through these busy times we would like to officially welcome our Americorps intern, Jamie, to the team. While Jamie has already gotten her feet dirty with HOK over this summer, she is now going to be working with us until next August! Jamie grew up in Kailua but moved to the mainland for high school and college. She graduated from the University of South Carolina Beaufort with her B.S. in Biology concentrating in coastal ecology and conservation. After Jamie graduated in December 2015 she moved back to the islands to start a career in environmental management. She enjoys hiking, exploring new places, and spending time with her family. Jamie will be taking on the bulk of the Community Coordinator's position and will assist with volunteer recruitment and training, facilitating community workdays and conducting field work at all of HOK's project sites. We are very excited to have her working with us and can't wait to watch her grow in this position.
If you are at one of the work days be sure to introduce yourself and welcome Jamie to our HOK family.
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Popoi'a Street Retrofit & Native Garden Project!
This Low-Impact Development project, developed in 2012, retrofitted 12,000 sq. ft. of an existing parking lot owned by City and County of Honolulu Parks Department adjacent to Ka'elepulu Stream in Kailua (located at 413 Kawailoa Road in Kailua) to improve the quality of storm water runoff. This crushed coral stream bank was home to hundreds of cars per day but every time it rained, there was only one place for the polluted parking area runoff to go, straight into the stream. Until the Fall of 2012, and many years before, each rain storm would discharge a milky plume of sediment, trash, oils and hydrocarbons directly into the stream. In September of 2012, HOK broke ground on this retro-fit project and pervious brick pavers were installed in the parking area to help infiltrate storm-water runoff and reduce the amount of pollution reaching the stream. Additionally, the project improved 360 feet of riparian habitat through the installation of native plants and rain gardens.
Popoi'a Street Retrofit & Native Gardens Volunteer Workday
Saturday September 9th, 9:00 a.m. -11 a.m.
Volunteer to help maintain this project in urban Kailua while learning about native Hawaiian plants and local watershed issues. We will spend some time pruning the existing vegetation and out-planting more plants. This site is easily accessible and suitable for volunteers of elementary school age and older. Please arrive by 9 a.m. and stay as long as you wish. Volunteers are asked to wear shoes and work clothes that they don't mind getting dirty, bring a water bottle, sun protection and snack. Work gloves, tools, and ice water to refill your bottle will be provided.
Please RSVP for this event here. Additional project information & location on our website.
It's hard to believe that this year, we are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Kaha Native Plant Garden! 10 years ago our community came together to celebrate the blessing of Kaha Native Plant Garden in Kawainui Neighborhood Park.
To the right is a photo of Kaha Gardens when it was first installed in 2007.
The project replaced grass and invasive species along 150 yards of stream bank with native Hawaiian plants which can be used for soil stabilization, bio-filtration and water conservation. All plant species in the garden can be found naturally in dry coastal areas throughout the Hawaiian Islands and can thrive with only the water provided by rain events and occasional summer watering.
Over the years, the xieriscape garden has changed but it has always been a great example for park goers of how native plants grow and has provided landscaping ideas on what types of drought tolerant native plants could be planted in their own gardens.
Mahalo Nui Loa to all the volunteers who have committed their time to the garden over the past decade. If you would like to donate your time at this project site, click here for a listing of upcoming service days.
Click here to check out a video of a local youth soccer team as they discuss the work they did at Kaha Graden in 2014.
Kaha Garden, July 2017. Preparing an area for more 'akia and 'ulei to be out-planted.
The mission of Hui o Ko`olaupoko is to protect ocean health by restoring the `aina: mauka to makai. This is done in partnership with stakeholders including interested citizens, non-governmental organizations, government, educational institutions and businesses while using and focusing on sound ecological principles, community input, and cultural heritage.