Sustainability Spotlight: Hawai‘i

Have you ever popped a balloon? Not with a pin, but with your breath? The skin gets thinner and thinner as the air fills up the small area. Soon enough the pressure is too great for the finite amount of space and the skin ruptures in one split second, totally destroying the balloon.
I'm not really here to write about balloons of course, it a loose analogy for living on an island. I’m from the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, born and raised. Within a short span of twenty years I've seen the population boom, traffic get worse, and the beaches get a bit more crowded.  The air in the balloon represents the social growth and the balloon itself represents the structure and the stability of the island. If we aren’t careful the “balloon” might burst.
The Hawai’i 2050 sustainability plan, put in motion by the City and County of Honolulu and the Hawai’i 2050 Sustainability Task Force in 2008, gives a detailed plan on how Hawai’i is trying to preserve our island for future generations.  This “people’s plan” is a community-based blueprint for a sustainable Hawai’i. You can read the full plan here, but the five main goals of this plan are to preserve:
  • A Way of Life – Living sustainably is part of our daily practice in Hawai‘i.
  •  The Economy – Our diversified and globally competitive economy enables us to meaningfully live, work and play in Hawai‘i.
  • Environment and Natural Resources – Our natural resources are responsibly and respectfully used, replenished and preserved for future generations.
  • Community and Social Well-Being – Our community is strong, healthy, vibrant and nurturing, providing safety nets for those in need.
  • Kanaka Maoli and Island Values – Our Kanaka Maoli and island cultures and values are thriving and perpetuated.

As this is one of the most comprehensive and inclusive planning processes in our state’s history, you can tell how important it is for Hawai’i to become sustainable and set a new path for self-efficiency, responsibility, conservation, and protection. We need to respect and live within the natural resources and limits of our islands.
John Locke, a 17th century philosopher, believed in tabula rasa (Latin for blank slate), as do I. This theory states that knowledge comes from experience and perception. The future belongs to our youth, keiki in Hawaiian, and we need to train them in a way that we can live off and with the land. Education of sustainability can be started not just at home, but in schools too. It can never be too young to learn the benefits of locally grown food, recycling, water conservation, and making “green” choices.
George R. Ariyoshi, Governor 1973-1986 and supporter of Hawaii 2050, in his State-of-the-State Address, January 23, 1978 is quoted: “We share an awesome responsibility, you and I, a responsibility that transcends this time and this place. Direction comes only from an awareness of future problems and future needs and a willingness to step forward and address that future – as difficult and as overwhelming as that may sometimes be.” These words ring true, even to this day. Everyone can do their part, as every little bit helps in a task as daunting as this.
Although I am far away from home for now, I still try to follow the example set by those back in Hawai’i. Living in California has given me great opportunities to work with like-minded people that share the common interest of making the world a better place. Together by doing our part we can spread the motivation and change seen in Hawai’i and apply it here in California, or wherever we may go. Remember: responsibility, conservation, and education begins with you, why wait to make a change? 
Author: Kristin Hughes (Pangea Proxima Intern)

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