While in Princeville, Kauai last week on vacation with my family, I relished the daily rains, the lush trees, delicious smelling flowers, birds of all colors and personalities, and the noticeably quiet, tranquil and untouched atmosphere of Hawaii’s garden island.
There was no light pollution and I could see the stars more clearly in the sky. It had been 7 years since I last visited and returned to Oahu on my last trip. Oahu is the island I had the privilege of living on for 3.5 years until moving to Arizona at age 14. My dad was stationed there with the army, and meanwhile my mom had already left the army and continued to do civilian work for the military.
I can't help but remember that I was on a Fort Shaft base kids bus from school when the announcement came on the radio that we were entering into the first Gulf War. Terrorism didn’t have the same meaning then, but rest assured all of us military kids took the announcement seriously. I wish there could have been more peace to follow. I was lucky my parents could stay on the paradise homefront in safety.
I had the opportunity to learn to the best of my ability about Hawaiian history in Hawaiian monarchy class. I very much struggled trying to remember the names of the kings and dynasties—many which started with “k” like Kamehameha. Hawaiians have a beautiful language all their own. I realized on this vacation, Hawaii, in addition to their beautiful culture, had taught me at a young age to care about the Mother Earth.
Hawaii was ahead of its time, I believe (and still is—see aloha paper bag) with addressing environmental concerns. Recycling programs and presentations were introduced into schools in the 80’s while I attended school there. Hawaii residents take protection of our earth very seriously. I immediately began harassing my parents to recycle and I picked through our trash daily. Since then, I have been unable to shake my passion for the environment. Living on the island, you quickly have a better grasp of scarcity and sustainability. Where does all the garbage go on these small islands? How in the world does such a small, faraway place (more miles over the ocean than the width of the mainland United States according to my husband) feed, house, and generate clean water, gas, electricity, and other energy resources for over 1,360,000 people?
On this visit in 2016, I was not offered or given a single plastic bag at any store, and everyone always asked if I really needed a bag at all. Recycling bins for plastic, glass, and aluminum were everywhere and visible---on the beach, in restaurants, at the fun luau we attended, even in the Wyndham hotel in larger bins outside and smaller bins in the rooms. There were very few semi trucks, everyone drove slower, and I was happy to spot a fair number of Nissan Leafs on the small two way streets. The small electrical plant was full of solar panels, and so were many homes. The air was clean and my severe allergies were remarkably better.
The gas emitted on my plane ride there is still not lost on me, but this trip made me more seriously dedicated to doing all I can to limit my carbon foot print, and perhaps someday doing even more to help the cause to save our earth.
Personally, as a mother and a citizen and professionally, as the Deneau Law Firm, I invite you to join me to think consciously every day about choices and the impact that they have on our planet that we pass on to future generations. As my friend and Green Guru, Gina Murphy-Darling says “I won’t tell you what to think, I just want you to think!”. Listen to her radio podcast show; Mrs. Green’s World and learn more about we can do to make a difference.