Cover Story

How Green is our Hawaii?

The Weekly’s reports on Sustainability 2012

From farmers in the ahupua‘a valleys who used and recycled every precious drop of water on its way to the sea, to fishermen who set kapus when species were spawning, to children riding ti leaves on a muddy slope or simply rolling down a grassy hill, to body surfers in a glassy wave, Hawaii has a long heritage of tapping into renewable energy, not just for work and sustenance, but for joy and play.

As we roll down the home stretch to the 42nd Earth Day, April 22, what a joy to celebrate the planet and its resources: clean air, clean water, forests, farms and, most of all, our keiki and generations to come. While renewing our pledge to protect all this, we can also mark our progress. In just over a decade, sustainability has become a widespread buzzword, along with organic, ecosystem and (forever) green. These words are rapidly growing into action in Hawaii, with the burgeoning, incentivized growth of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems and the electric vehicle (EV) market. Honolulu is laying in the bike lanes.

Green living starts with education and depends on the chance to earn a livelihood. That’s why green schools, businesses and jobs are the theme of our 2012 sustainability issue. With Earth Day, the Three R’s of the traditional schoolroom became renewed as Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and now schools throughout the state are applying and integrating this into reading, writing and arithmetic–not to mention art, science, and what’s for lunch.

Since 2003, Kokua Hawaii Foundation (KHF) has worked with parents, teachers and administrators to spearhead recycling and ‘aina (farm-fresh foods) in schools, showing how the two feed each other. Kim Johnson, who founded KHF with her husband Jack, started out as a teacher. “Instead of getting involved with politics, Jack and I decided to work with kids,” Kim says. “We thought, if they can do it, the city can.” Today, Hawaii’s youth, in the greening micro- communities of their schools, are showing our leaders how to lead.

In our last Sustainability Guide, we provided a wealth of evergreen resources and tips that you can access at [HonoluluWeekly.com]. On May 9 we’ll launch our first Green Home issue, with a fresh potpourri of tips from how and when to go solar, conserve water, and choose sustainable, healthy building and decorating supplies. As its founders keep telling us, Earth Day should be every day. That’s how we report and edit The Weekly, to bring you good green news and views in every issue, throughout the year.

Kamehameha Schools, Hawaii Pacific University, and Kokua Hawaii Foundation sponsored Sustainable Hawaii 2012.