Zero Waste and Hawaii

Since my own zero waste journey started every time I go out into the world I see things differently than before. My recent trip to Hawaii was no different. There were many things I was impressed with and even some things I was surprised by.

Some zero waste things Hawaii got right:

  • No plastic bags at the grocery store. In July Hawaii got a bunch of news for their plastic bag ban in grocery stores. This is great for many reason including plastic isn’t biodegradable and more and more plastics are ending up in the pacific garbage patch.
  • There was a 20 cent charge for paper bags which was a great enforcement of good behavior changes. I saw many people bring their own reusable bags and most cashiers said “thank you” for bringing your own or saying no to a bag which was nice.
  • There is $500 fine for litter. I don’t think I saw any litter on roads and very little on the beaches. I even saw a couple people picking up the few pieces of garbage that were on the beaches we visited. This showed me how much everyone cared.
  • Many houses collected their own rain water and have solar panels. Two things I would like to start doing myself.
  • LED lighting or no street lights on highways, so little light pollution which was great for star gazing. If you want to know more about the impact of light pollution on people and our environment I recommend the documentary The City Dark.

Some things that need improvement:

  • It was hard to find many recycling cans. Now maybe all garbage get sorted before it goes to the dump. I was surprise either way.
  • I didn’t see anywhere to compost. Maybe this is only done on a individual level? I would image the islands could benefit with commercial compost considering all the farming that is done.
  • Holy huge portions! Large portions at restaurants, enough for two to three meals. I couldn’t believe the size of the food portions. I gained 5 lbs on vacation, thankful I have lost 4 lbs of it since I got back. This seems unnecessary, unhealthy, and wasteful.
  • I was surprised to see so many styrofoam take-out containers considering the no plastic bag ban.

Of the few issues I did see there might already be solutions in place that I just didn’t notice. All are easy to address if a solution isn’t already in place. All and all I was REALLY impressed with the progressiveness I saw in Hawaii, these are people who respect the beautiful land that they live in.


What A Recent Vacation Taught Me About Zero Waste

We recently took a family trip to Hawaii. This was our big gift for Christmas this year as we decided we wanted to spend money on life experiences instead of stuff. Before and while traveling this time I noticed a few things about my own personal habits that made me think.

The clothes you have are enough. My partner Steve pointed out I bought new clothes before vacation. “You always buy new clothes before vacation”. He was right! Every vacation that I can think of in recent time I bought something to wear beforehand, whether it was a cute dress, hiking shoes, or a beach coverup. I need to watch out for this the next time. I shouldn’t need to buy anything before I go on a trip.

You don’t need to prepare for everything. My initial inclination is to pack more than what I needed. I even cut down and repacked half way through, but looking back there were a few more things I could have done without. Smaller/light luggage is the way to go! I had a carry-on and backpack, but would like to get down to only one bag in the future.

Always bring your own water bottle. We did this in Europe over the summer but for some silly reason I thought bottled water would have been easier in Hawaii since I read an article that recommended buying bottled water because you shouldn’t drink the water that was collected by the rain. Turns out we would have been fine with our own bottles because there was plenty of access to city tap water.

Bring your own a shampoo bar and homemade toothpaste. A shampoo bar would have worked for this trip. If you don’t know about shampoo bar they are a good zero waste replacement for shampoo and conditioner. Also I had recently made my own toothpaste, but didn’t bring which I immediately regretted. Recipe is below.

Cooking your own food will always be cheaper, healthier and in most cases a tastier option. We stayed at a house through AirBNB the majority of the trip and made several breakfasts and dinners at “home”. It was well worth the time and saved us money.

And above all else life experiences are more important than material objects.

Life experiences are more important than material objects


UPDATED Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

Measure baking soda and coconut oil and place into small storage container. Use a spoon or spatula to mix into a paste. Add 5 drops of peppermint extract or oil. Mix again. Use a pea size amount each time you brush.