“Ua hoʻomakua ka lāʻau”
(The plant has become a tree)
TRASH. Hawaii’s land and ocean is choked with it! The U.S. generated 258 million tons of it in 2014. Only 1/3 was recycled or composted. In Hawaii, we did a little better—recycling and composting 43% of our state’s trash in 2015. But Hawaii County’s recycling and composting rate was only 26.7 %. This leftover trash is bad news. It overflows our landfills (Hilo’s is full), gulches (illegal dumping is a major problem in Hawaii), ocean and rivers. Over 1.4 billion tons of trash end up in the ocean each year! Much of this trash is plastic, which kills marine creatures, harms wildlife and causes cancer in humans. To trash our precious ʻāina is a real shame.
What can we do? Thankfully, a plethora of trash-reducing organizations and programs have sprung up on the Hawaiian Islands, many located right here on Hawaii Island. These eco-warriors lead waste-reduction initiatives like beach cleanups, school recycling contests and coastal stewardship projects. Let’s follow their example and check ourselves—starting in our homes and schools. Remember the 3 R’s—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Anyone can become a trash-reducing superhero! Mālama Honua!