Last night I had a dream that my son Kai, looking over the wreckage of the planet, asked why I brought him into the world. Upon waking, I read a quote that appears in most holy books about humans being caretakers of the earth, not masters. And both made me think about Hawaii–those epic sunsets and waves, the reefs (that friends say are bleaching quicker than you can eat a plate lunch), those peaks of mountains that have both shielded humans from harm and brought about countless deaths. I imagined the view from the top of Mauna Kea, dipping my toes in Napili Bay. Then I envisioned the alii royalty canoeing up the Wailua River from Heiau to Heiau, ignorantly killing off bird and plant species and I realized that as a parent, it is up to me to help inspire our evolution.
As travelers, it is up to us to care for this land we visit. And since there are so many easy ways to do so, I wanted to start a section about giving back.
To start, I’ll focus on Hawaii, but in the future, I will also talk about giving back at home, on the road, and in our lives.
Here are some ways we can all help keep Hawaii beautiful:
- Bring your own water bottle and refill it; unwrap your packaged toiletries at home.Recycle. On Kauai you have to schlep your recycling to a center, but hey, you are explorers, pack the car and drop it off before you head up to Kokee.
- Limit your driving as much as possible. Rather than staying on the North Shore and driving to the South and West shores a bunch of times, split your trip in half. Even better: Take the bus. Talk about a cultural education!
- Before hiking anywhere, clean the bottom of your shoes. Invasive plants hurt the endemic plants of the islands. Hawaii has a high rate of native plants and animals; it is our job to help sustain them.
- Buy local. The Hawaii farmers markets rock. You’ll find head-sized avocados, homemade banana bread and super sweet bananas. And supporting local farmers helps keep locals in business.
As caretakers of this land, we need to govern ourselves, making sure we don’t take too much without giving a little back. It’s not that hard and using these simple tips, we can experience a side of the islands many tourists don’t see.