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Hawaii Made Me Green

Since arriving in the Islands five years ago, I’ve realized just how precious and irreplaceable the ‘aina truly is. And instead of sucking the life out of it, I decided to transform my habits to resonate with a more sustainable mantra–a process that has benefitted Hawaii and my pocketbook.

I almost died with embarrassment every time my mother rescued another treasure from someone else’s garbage. Now, I’m proud to say I’ve followed in her footsteps. I’ve fished out bed frames, chests and even eyed a good-looking couch before considering the possibility of bed bugs. Not just because it’s one of the cheapest–if not the cheapest–way to give old trinkets a second life, but also because it saves space in Hawaii’s already overloaded landfills. Most of these items are rarely ready to meet their fates anyway, so don’t allow them to prematurely rot in space Hawaii doesn’t have to offer in the first place.

Once a staple in my everyday life, I now avoid bottled water like the plague. I deem it to be one of the most ridiculous fads picked up in recent years. But it’s a simple one to resolve: Buy a reusable water bottle, and fill it up at one of the numerous water fountains throughout Oahu. They’re readily available in most public locations–schools, office buildings, state parks. At home, I’m obsessed with my Brita water pitcher. Water tastes exactly as if it came from the springs on Mauna Loa, but I didn’t waste the couple dollars on the bottle and its marketing, nor am I the one contributing the plastic bottle to society once I’m finished.

Recycling was certainly never high on my priority list; Hawaii’s fairly severe waste management issues forced my eyes wide open. We cannot afford to send one shard of reusable, recyclable or compostable material to our overflowing refuge centers. Am I still guilty of this? Of course. My compost pile is still on my to-do list, and sometimes I’m just plain human. But, when it comes down to it, I know I’ll have saved a little more than 1,200 pounds in CO2 emissions this year alone, just because I recycle everything I can and refuse single-use bags at the checkout line.

Each of these is a very minor change by just one person. Everyone, though, has the ability to be inspired by our ‘aina, pledging to take just one step toward living more sustainably this year.

What’s recyclable? See [opala.org]. Calculate how to reduce your footprint at [yousustain.com]