Opinion: Small Steps to Mālama Āina Create Large Impact

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The following is a letter to the editor. It does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Big Island Now or Pacific Media Group. It has not been edited for content.

“If you live in Puna, you likely have noticed the trash littering our roadways, and household items dumped in neighborhoods. Even with mostly free waste disposal, our garbage sometimes doesn’t make it to the transfer station allowing toxins to enter our soil and water. 

And with the garbage does make it to the transfer station, what then? The trash is transported to the island’s west side to the Pu´uanahulu landfill, 86 miles from Pāhoa. It seems that the best solution that we’ve come up with is to use gas-guzzling trucks to move trash to landfills that contribute to methane gas in our atmosphere. Every truckload is evidence of out-of-control consumption of disposable products that drive pollution. 

If we want to be a positive force for reducing climate change as a community, we need to dedicate our efforts to education about the impacts of our daily choices and local policies that fail to protect our land, air, and oceans for future generations. Start with the basics:

  • Refuse what you don’t need
  • Reduce what you do need
  • Recycle what you can’t reduce

Plastic is not recyclable here, so try to avoid it. Construction debris is a huge source of waste. Can those materials be reclaimed? Start composting at home — or if you can’t, find a neighbor to take your organic material for their compost pile. Paper is compostable too! Pick up litter in your neighborhood or join with one of the many excellent organizations on the island stewarding the land. These may seem like small things, but it’s the beginning of a whole new mindset that can change everything for all of us.”

-Andrea Nila Negron, Pāhoa


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