Saturday 19 November 2011

a green american fling : part 1 : hawaii

I've recently embarked on a month's tour of my homeland to celebrate various occasions (a great friend's wedding, both my parents' 60th birthdays and Thanksgiving!) and while I'm here I'm hoping to explore the green side of the USA. (I know, I know, flying halfway around the world then hopping around the continent does not equate to green living, but I did offset all flights with Climate Friendly.)

First stop - Hawaii. 

First things first, I had an eco-chic bikini by Meadow, their gorgeous purple sparkle braided bikini, sent to my Dad's place - perfect fit!

You'd be forgiven for assuming Hawaii is a greenies' dreamland - miles of beaches, acres of rainforests and sparkling water teeming with wildlife surround these beautiful palm tree-filled islands - and I have fallen in love with the natural beauty of the islands.  But there is another side of Hawaii, a much less green side of these enchanted isles, and I find myself struggling with the disconnect.

For instance, where my Dad lives in Oahu there is no paper recycling (glass and plastic, but no paper - what?!).  In addition, despite the distance from the mainland, Hawaii has inherited American culture's obsession with larger-than-necessary cars and convenience foods (and all the packaging that comes with them).  Traffic in and out of Honolulu is notoriously bad, and at certain times of the day there are six lanes of highway traffic going in one direction.  And walk up and down any beach not associated with a major hotel resort and you will find so much rubbish you'll feel like weeping (well, I do anyway).

What's going on?  How can we flock to these magical islands and then leave them trashed? When will infrastructure catch up with development? Will it? There is a planned train line from Honolulu over to the west side of Oahu but it is plagued with setbacks and rumoured closures. Ridding the island of fast food restaurants seems an impossible feat, and it hardly seems fair to ask Hawaii to break their reliance on convenience culture when the mainland isn't doing it's share.

It's not all  bad news, though. In just one commercial break (in between NFL highlights) I saw one commercial for keeping oceans clean and another for supporting local produce growers, and at the end of the year plastic bags will be banned.  And while I was picking up some rubbish from Sunset Beach on Oahu's north shore my little brother (aged 7 years old) said to me What you find on the beach ends up in the oceans so they must be teaching schoolchildren environmental lessons.

Great steps in the green direction, but still a long way to go if we really want to keep these magical islands truly green.

Next stop - Mexico! I'll keep you posted.