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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 28, 2006

Recycling is an ancient Hawaiian tradition

By Ka'ohua Lucas

"Hey, hey, hey," I called out. "Where are you going with that?"

A weathered, splintered door paraded in front of our home's picture window. It was if it were a marionette being manipulated by invisible wires. The wooden frame wavered as if attempting to gain its balance. Then, it scampered across the lower half of the window out of sight.

I ran to the front porch to witness my husband fleeing across our yard seeking refuge in his tool shed.

"Honey," I hollered. "Where are you going with that door?"

"Nowhere," he said, dodging into the shack door braced against his shoulder.

Never in my life have I ever met someone as conscientious as my husband when it comes to recycling.

Our 'ohana already recycles the traditional bottles, cans and newspapers. But my husband believes that anything and I mean anything that can be reused should be recycled.

He's accumulated a number of recyclable pieces over the years: rusted tools, plastic foam packing material, a tattered straw hat with a missing brim. The list is endless.

In ancient Hawai'i, waste was rare.

If an ipu or calabash cracked or a fish net became damaged, it would be repaired. It was uncommon for Hawaiians to unnecessarily toss away items that could be easily fixed and reused. On occasions when materials needed to be disposed of, they were returned to the earth to replenish the 'aina.

Like early Hawaiians, my husband has that same unwavering environmental ethic. He has taken the modern-day recycling campaign on with zeal.

We have used lumber stretched across the front of our home. A cement sink rests on cement blocks salvaged from a recent demolition. A piece of chain link fence he decided to save "to prevent the dogs from escaping" lies in the grass.

We've even stopped mowing our yard to provide space for his materials and support his recycling efforts.

I asked why he decided to save the planks of an outside closet that was recently demolished.

"Well, Babe," he said with a chuckle, "I plan to use it as inside paneling for my shack."

What a brilliant idea!

"And what about your recently acquired door?" I asked.

"I'll use it as a front door to the shack," he said.

How clever he is.

"Honey, what motivates you to being such a good steward of the land?" I asked.

"To paraphrase Brother Noland, we are all natives of this our mother earth. And recycling is my contribution to saving the planet."

Reach Ka'ohua Lucas at Family Matters, 'Ohana section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Hono-lulu, HI 96802; fax 525-8055; or at ohana@honoluluadvertiser .com.