7 eco friendly things you don’t know about Hawaii Island

7 eco friendly things you don't know about Hawaii Island

Wind turbines along South Point

7 eco friendly things you don’t know about Hawaii Island

For a state that unfortunately imports more than 80 percent of its goods and produce to feed its people, it’s surprising that this statistic hasn’t changed much in a while even though the state and local government is trying to make improvements to living more efficiently and self sustainability in Hawaii. In spite of those obstacles, there is a lot of innovation, conservation and environmentally friendly programs and activities to help keep and sustain the islands needs.

Here are seven environmentally friendly things that you might now know about Hawaii that the state and local island counties are trying to change to make positive inroads and become self sustainable:

1) Many areas around Hawaii Island are completely dependent on rain water for their drinking and personal use. Typically rainwater is collected on the roof to large catchment systems and then filtered into the home for use. Not only is this free and dependable, each person is in responsible for their own needs and filtering requirements. There are also county spigots available for users that have small catchments or run out of water in dryer conditions.


7 eco friendly things you don't know about Hawaii Island

Typical 10,000 gallon rain catchment tank



2) There is no garbage pick up service around the island – each person or family is responsible for their garbage and recycling. This works effectively with the many recycle  and garbage centers around the island accessible to each person for free. Residents each have to bring their garbage to these recycle centers, they are also encouraged to divide their garbage into recycled areas or dumpsters for green waste, paper and cardboard products, glass, plastics and building materials. In some centers there are also drop off areas for personal effects and used items that can be resold back to the public.

3) Many islanders also have and maintain their own waste processing responsibility whether it is through a septic system or other system like cesspools.  Since the land in Hawaii is quite porous, creating a personal sewage system can be done inexpensively and is encouraged by the county planning department.

4) Island electricity and services are probably the highest cost per kilowatt in the United States, so the state of Hawaii along with local utility companies offer incentive programs or rebates for solar energy, upgrading to energy efficient appliances and reducing consumption during peak hours. Many solar users tie into the electrical grid and by provide energy into the system for electric credits. Hawaii island and it’s neighbor islands are now a leading contributor to the utility grid both from personal households to corporate/government facilities with solar panels.

5) Energy wise, the island is also in the forefront of research and energy development into many sources of alternative energy.  Extended plans to expand production into geothermal energy, wave cycle energy, wind turbine energy and ethanol producing gas with green energy plant materials is putting the island on the vanguard of hitting its goals for sustainability.

6) An energy mandate by the Hawaii clean energy initiative requires that 70 percent sourced from clean energy and energy efficiency throughout the state by 2030 (the highest in the US). Of that 40 percent will be generated by renewable energy and 30 percent coming from energy efficiency. Hawaii is leading aggressively the way to becoming more self-sustaining and creating new energy resources and industries.  Conservation has been on the forefront of every citizen with support of each local island to cut daily use and consumption of gas, electricity and import products into the island. For those interested in learning more about Hawaii’s plan, visit their official website here.


7 eco friendly things you don't know about Hawaii Island

Fresh grown pineapple at home

7) Locals really grow their own food for personal consumption. From small neighborhood plots to little farms, there is a large agricultural presence and need to grow our own produce to save on costs and have wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables. In fact almost everyone here will at least have citrus plants, herbs and other tropical trees growing on their properties. Small scale farms, coops and farmers markets are very popular and well supported within the community. Even abundant fruits and vegetables are shared or traded casually with friends and neighbors.

As you can see, despite the fact that many products and services are imported into the island, there is also a strong environmental and conservation effort in producing locally and efficiently using what we have available on the island.  Not only is it imperative for users to conserve and use resources wisely, it also affects our pocket-book and higher prices  we pay for imported materials and services. 

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6 Responses to 7 eco friendly things you don’t know about Hawaii Island

  1. Sandra January 9, 2015 at 1:38 am #

    I didn’t know any of this but it sounds very familiar because I’m an islander as well (although I no longer live there, in the Azores). A lot of the things are similar: importing most of the stuff at extremely high prices, expensive energy, growing your own food and the whole sewage system. Very interesting idea the garbage disposal one. I wonder how that would work in the Azores, when 40 years ago some people used to dump their trash in the ocean… I think the islanders, because we are so far away from the mainland, find a way to be resourceful and independent.

  2. Nancie February 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Growing your own food is fantastic. I’m not so sure I’d want to build my own septic system 🙂

  3. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} February 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    That’s really impressive. It goes far beyond what my hometown of Austin does, and Austin tries to think of itself as a very green minded community.

  4. muzachan February 20, 2014 at 8:39 pm #


  5. jenny@atasteoftravel February 20, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    What an interesting post Noel. It’s a shame other communities have not faced the isolation Hawaii does and therefore have not become more self sustaining.

    • Noel February 20, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

      Hi Jenny,
      Your right, it only happens when you make it painful enough for the consumer to really start conserving and becoming more resourceful and in this case for the better.

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