Eco-Tips Hawaii: Who Needs Plastic? Go Green and be Eco-Friendly in Hawaiʻi

Posted in: Environment, Food & Drink, Shopping

Hawaiʻi has always been known for its pristine beaches, verdant landscape and all-around majestic outdoor environment. Yet now more than ever, the beauty of Hawaiʻi is threatened by the rise in pollution, plastic overkill and damage to our oceans. 

There are so many ways to enjoy eco-friendly fun while doing your part to keep Hawaiʻi clean, green and safe. If you’re traveling across the islands, we encourage you to “go green” whenever you can! Here are some simple tips to get you started. PC: Pacific Whale Foundation. 

1. Forgo the plastic
It’s no secret that plastic is a mighty killer to Mother Nature, and unfortunately not even Hawaiʻi is immune to its wrath. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to make a big difference for Hawaiʻi’s environment. Say no to the plastic utensils so readily available at most Hawaiʻi eateries, or pick up one set and use it throughout your vacation. Similarly, don’t accept the plastic bags offered at grocery or retail stores; instead, buy a reuasable bag with a festive, island print that you can bring home as a souvenir! 

2. Opt for reef safe sunscreen
We all know sunscreen is vital to protect against the sun’s powerful rays, but did you know it also has devastating effects on Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs? Recent studies have shown that certain chemicals in sunscreen like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are linked directly to coral reef decline. Whether you’re snorkeling near coral reefs or swimming in a waterfall, the presence of sunscreen on your body has a direct affect on Hawaiʻi’s coral reef systems. So don’t forget to read the label before purchasing your sunscreen, and avoid these active ingredients in chemically derived sunscreens. Instead, opt for sunscreens that contain Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide, two naturally occurring minerals that are safe for our precious marine environment.

Opt for reef safe sunscreen whenever you’re near the water, whether you’re swimming in the ocean or visiting a waterfall. PC: Hawaii Forest & Trail. 

Who Needs Plastic 3
3. Dump your cigarette butts in ashtrays—not on land
While one person smoking may not have a direct affect on Hawaiʻi’s landscape, the mess that one person leaves behind certainly creates a problem for our environment. Think twice before tossing your cigarette butts on the ground; instead, actively look for ashtrays to dispose of your trash. Remember: Mother Nature is not your ashtray! PC: Pacific Whale Foundation.

4. Enjoy eco-friendly fun
When selecting which attractions to visit and activities to partake in during your time in paradise, always be environmentally conscious. You can indulge in eco-friendly fun on land and at sea with activities like hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and renting a Segway. All of these recreational options are enjoyed with minimal risk to Hawaiʻi’s ecosystem. 

5. Leave marine creatures alone
Home to some of the most remarkable endangered species on the planet, Hawaiʻi is an animal lover’s haven. Yet it’s easy to forget about the “endangered” part of the term “endangered species,” and all too often these animals are bothered and sometimes even abused by humans and their presence. It’s important to note that native creatures like the Green Sea Turtle (Honu), Hawaiian Monk Seal and endangered species protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act. As such, you are required to remain at least 100 feet away from them at all times. If you see any of these animals being harassed by humans, please report the incident in detail to the NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement at (800) 853-1965.

Endangered species like Honu are majestic creatures that deserve privacy and peace. IHVB / Tyler Schmitt.

6. Go Stainless Steel 
Spending your day in the sun can be exhausting, and will likely leave you very thirsty. And while buying bottled water may be commonplace and convenient, it does nothing to protect Hawaiʻi’s ecosystem. A stainless steel water bottle is an excellent alternative to the plastic bottled water sold in stores, and doesn’t contain the hazardous aluminum that’s commonly found in other bottles’ liners. Stop fretting over where you can satiate your thirst next—opt instead for a reusable stainless steel bottle and refill it constantly for instant gratification.

If you have other sustainable tips you practice when on vacation, we’d love to hear them! Share your eco-travel practices on our social media pages (@thisweekhawaii) and help us keep Hawaiʻi green! 

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