Hawaii is known for its beaches, surf, scenic views and vacation spots, but it's also known for being very green. Because so many tourists visit every day of the year, there's a stronger sense of pride for keeping the island clean and beautiful.
I recently got to visit Oahu on vacation and appreciated the work the island does to stay green. There was a recycling bin next to every trashcan out in public.
There are charging stations for electric vehicles.
EV charging station in Honolulu.
There are bike lanes everywhere, allowing you to ride to almost any part of the island.
Bike rack in Kailua.
North Shore wind farm
There are solar panels on at least half the homes that I saw, and I loved how common they are on homes across the island. Because imported energy costs so much, solar energy is a feasible solution for many homes. In 2011, the available tax credits for solar panels in Hawaii (35% state, 30% federal) were second only to tax credits in Louisiana (50%). It at least seems that more homes in Hawaii took advantage of the tax credits.
Solar panels on homes in Lanikai
Not to mention, all the fun activities are outdoors! We hiked mountain trails and waterfall trails, we swam, we snorkeled and we kayaked. While difficult in ocean waters (especially with my tired chicken arms) , kayaking was a great way to travel without using any kind of fuel.
Hiking was probably one of my favorite things we did on the trip. Each hike was so different from the others, and each one offered its own amazing views. What I love is that hikes allow you to be part of a mostly uninterrupted nature. Of course people hike these trails every day, and some do have man-made structures, but for the most part, it's venturing into these amazing places that nature has created. Manoa Falls will probably always be one of the most gorgeous, surreal and green places I have ever visited. When the wind blew, the tall bamboo stalks would clap against each other and make this incredible sound.
Moku Nui off Lanikai
Bamboo forest along the Manoa Falls trail
Manoa Falls trail
Natural freshwater pool at Waimea Falls.
Even with the easy access to recycling bins everywhere, I still came across litter strewn about, and it seemed to aggravate me even more than usual. I'm sure most people only have a chance to visit Hawaii once, and to find trash in the most scenic places can put a damper on that exotic getaway feeling. There's no real way to know who's to blame...except for the lazy people. :)
This toy shovel handle literally washed up on the shore next to me at Hanauma Bay, and I picked it up and brought it to the nearest recycling bin. I am sure the fish and sea turtles that live in the bay are happy that this piece of plastic is no longer littering their home.
This was one of the pieces of litter I came across on the Makapu'u Point trail one morning. Not sure that food wrappers are a native island plant.
Most of the island was beautifully clean though. We made sure to bring and use our Klean Kanteens on the plane and on our hikes and beach excursions. One thing I can say about Hawaii is that you need to drink a lot of water! We spent almost all of our available daylight hours outside doing physical activities, and we had to stay hydrated to be able to keep up. There is NOTHING like taking a cold sip of water hours after you've poured it!
The Pearl Harbor memorial had this clearly marked sign at the entrance, and the recycling bins were plentiful.
One thing I learned is that the buildings at the Pearl Harbor museum are LEED-certified. They are naturally ventilated by incorporating trade winds, large roofs for shade and strategically placed landscaping and shade. They also use automatic lighting to save energy, conserve water and use natural sunlight.
Many residents like to pick up cans for recycling because of the redemption program. This guy was set on getting his five cents a can back from the local recycling company!
Hawaii was a surreal, incredible experience, p lus it was wonderful to see sustainability in action! Most of the island takes pride in its beautiful landscape, and while conservation practices and alternative energy sources may be part necessity, it's also a great benchmark for other regions!