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Plastic Free Hawaii

March 22, 2018

Hawaiʻi Representation at the 6th International Marine Debris Conference

The 6th International Marine Debris Conference was held on March 12-16 in San Diego, with over 700 people from over 50 countries in attendance. Hawaiʻi had a large contingent of 28 attendees, ranging from non-profit organizations to students to researchers. Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundationʻs Natalie McKinney and Doorae Shin presented on three panels specific to KHFʻs Plastic Free Hawaiʻi program. Hawaiʻi delegation presenters shared the successes of our educational, art, recycling, research, policy, and cleanup efforts across the islands.

Other highlights from the conference included KHF co-founders Kim & Jack Johnson whose Johnson Ohana Foundation was a sponsor of the conference which included an art gallery featuring local artist Mark Cunningham and Sondra Weiss' Love Letters to the Sea. Kim spoke on a panel about corporate and social responsibility highlighting the efforts made during Jack's concerts to minimize and eliminate single-use plastics, and Jack treated the conference attendees to a mini-concert during the closing ceremony after sitting on the closing plenary. Hawaiʻi’s large representation at this global gathering indicates that our islands are on the frontlines of the plastic pollution crisis and that we are tackling solutions from all angles with a diverse group of stakeholders.

Spring Plastic Free Hawaiʻi Volunteer Training

Plastic Free Hawaiʻi hosts two volunteer trainings each year. The Spring 2018 Volunteer Training is on Saturday, March 24, from 10:00am-1:30pm at University Lab School (Room FROG 1) in Honolulu. This training provides existing and new volunteers with background on Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation's Plastic Free Hawaiʻi program as well as the latest information on plastic pollution, marine debris, and the local processes of trash and recycling on Oʻahu to prepare you to represent Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation at upcoming outreach events. Refreshments will be provided to attendees. Sign up for the training here. Please contact Plastic Free Hawaiʻi Program Manager Doorae Shin with any questions!

March 31st Beach Cleanup at Lāʻie Beach Park

On Saturday, March 31, Plastic Free Hawaiʻi is hosting its next beach cleanup at Lāʻie Beach Park (a.k.a Pounders Beach). Check-in is at 8:30am and the cleanup is from 9:00-11:00am. A light lunch from Beet Box Cafe is provided by our sponsor Guaranteed Rate. This event is open to the public. Please bring your own reusable water bottle and a hat or reef-safe sunscreen. All are welcome and no RSVP is required. For details, check out the Facebook event here.

Hawaiʻi Foam Ban Update

On Friday, March 16, there was another hearing for SB2498, which would ban foam foodware from our islands. The widespread support and turnout were an incredible success, with 500 individuals, restaurants, businesses in support and the usual 4-5 business/industry representatives in opposition. Because of years of persistence and passion, this bill has made it further than ever before in past years! However, we must take action to keep the bill alive. See our blog for an easy way to help.

Plastic Free Hawaiʻi at the Keiki Great Aloha Run

Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation provided free, filtered water at the Keiki Great Aloha Run for all 2,200 runners. With the help of our Plastic Free Hawaiʻi Water Refill Station, the event was free of single-use plastic water bottles for the fourth consecutive year. All keiki runners also received a Plastic Free Hawaiʻi tote bag and a reusable bamboo spork. Kōkua Hawaiʻi Foundation has sponsored this event since 2015! This years' event  raised $34,000 for fitness and nutrition programs at 130 Oahu schools.

Plastic Free Hawaiʻi Makapuʻu Beach Cleanup

On February 24, 50 volunteers cleaned nearly 300 pounds of marine debris and trash at Makapuʻu Beach. A big mahalo to students from Kaiser High School’s Wipeout Crew, Le Jardin Academy, and Punahou School’s Sustainable Living Club & JROTC for volunteering. One lucky winner won two tickets to the Incubus concert on March 14 as well as a meet-and-greet with the band, thanks to Incubus and the Make Yourself Foundation. Mahalo to Regrained for donating granola bars to feed our volunteers. These granola bars are made with upcycled spent grain from breweries and wrapped in compostable packaging!

Hawaiʻi Businesses Switch from Plastic to Paper Straws

Moku Kitchen in Kakaʻako joins the many businesses that are switching from plastic to paper straws. The Republik also made the switch in February. Two Hawaiʻi hotels, the Modern Honolulu and the Hilton Waikoloa Village have also gone plastic straw free, which was featured in the LA Times here. Many of these businesses now also provide straws only upon request. With the Modern Honolulu reporting using over 612,000 straws last year, millions of plastic straws will be saved from entering our waste stream and environment. Although the bill to ban plastic straws in Hawaiʻi did not pass this year, voluntary efforts by these and many more local businesses help to drive the change and make a big positive impact! Do you know of more Hawaiʻi businesses that have made the switch? E-mail us at [email protected] to let us know!

Youth Advocacy: SEEQS

Lucy and Abby, two 8th graders at the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability (SEEQS), wanted to do something about plastic straws. They started a project called “Straw Strike: Straws that Suck,” an initiative to get people to stop using plastic straws. They started their project by making bracelets out of plastic straws, even getting Moku Kitchen to donate their remaining inventory of plastic straws when the restaurant switched to paper straws. The girls however realized that making bracelets out of plastic straws would only contribute to the problem of plastic straws entering the waste stream and possibly the environment. Their solution? Lucy and Abby decided to make pouches with a clasp that protect reusable silicone straws so you can put a straw in the pouch and put it around your wrist! On top of being an easy way to remember your reusable straw, they hope that the bracelet will be a conversation starter to talk about plastic pollution and protecting our ocean.

Maui Students Attend National Youth Plastic Solutions Conference

Students from Maui represented Hawaiʻi at the 2018 Algalita POPS Youth Summit. During the summit, all youth teams were invited to share ideas on how to solve the world’s plastic pollution problems. Maui students from Maui Huliau Foundation pitched a project called Huliau Green Events. The project’s long-term goal focuses on diverting an average of 75% of the waste from landfills by 2030. This goal is aligned with the Aloha+ Challenge statewide goals for a sustainable Hawaiʻi. They work to achieve this goal by partnering with event coordinators to convert vendors from plastic foodware to compostable alternatives and offering waste stations where event goers sort waste into recyclables, compostables, and trash. Through these efforts, the student group educates the public and have been able to divert between 75%-95% of waste from large events.