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.


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Top Four Zero Waste Products

The following four products were easy to start using on my Zero Waste journey. When I say easy I mean it, these were simple swap outs of existing products and I either didn’t need to change my behavior or only made slight modifications. All four are now staples for me and my family.

mesh bags, bamboo toothbrush, wool dryer balls, reusable snack bag, reusable sandwich bag

  • Bamboo Toothbrush – Most toothbrushes are made of plastic. Not only is this brush compostable, but the packaging it comes in is too.
  • Wool Dryer Balls – We use this instead of dryer sheets, they cut down on waste and dryer time. You can make your own using wool yarn or purchase ones already made.
  • Reusable snack and sandwich bags for school lunches – why throw away plastic when you don’t have to, plus my son thinks they are super cool.
  • Mesh Bags for buying fruits and veggies – great for the grocery store and farmers market to cut down on plastic.

Hope you find these products of interest and start joining me along this life changing journey.  I am planning a future post around more advanced products that I use and some other products that just haven’t stuck for me yet.