It's in your hands
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Loren Moreno
Teaching several classes a day on environmentalism has a way of making you feel like the world is spiraling out of control.
That's how professor Gail Grabowsky felt.
"When you teach class, you can get very depressed, because you're talking problems, problems, problems," said Grabowsky, associate professor and director of environmental studies at Chaminade University of Honolulu.
So when she was contacted by Bess Press to write the new updated "50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save Hawai'i," she jumped at the chance.
"What I loved about this project right away was that it was about solutions. The book is what you can do," she said.
Filmmaker David DeLuca, a friend of Bess Press publisher Buddy Bess, also liked the concept of "50 Simple Things" and decided to create a documentary that played off of the idea and target it toward elementary, high school and college students.
In production and set for release in late fall, DeLuca said the idea of the film, "Huliau," is to show Hawai'i's youths that there are things they can do. DeLuca and Grabowsky collaborated on the film project.
"The nice thing about the book and 'Huliau,' the film, is it's not bleak in nature. It gives a positive side to it, and it's really geared to help people motivate themselves," DeLuca said.
Unlike generic how-to-save-the-earth manuals, "50 Simple Things," is tailor-made for Hawai'i, Grabowsky said.
She notes that many people simply aren't aware of the Islands' singular environmental situation. "People don't know how cool Hawai'i is. People don't know that 97 percent of the plants and forests are unique and indigenous," she said.
So what are some of Hawai'i's most urgent issues?
Grabowsky said one of the most pressing problems is overfishing. But, she said, the problem is mostly caused by lack of information available on the depleting fish population in Hawaiian waters.
"This is one of those bad things that happens, but not because people are malicious, corrupt or evil. People love to fish. We have a tradition of fishing. There's nothing wrong with it, but we have to be more responsible about how we manage our ocean resources," she said.
Disposal of waste also is among our most critical problems, she said. The average American generates about 4.5 pounds of waste per day; the average person in Hawai'i generates about 6 pounds of waste a day.
"Currently, the majority of recyclables in Hawai'i are packaged, put on a boat and shipped back to the Mainland. I think that it would greatly benefit the state and the residents to have a recycling facility here that would prevent us from having to ship our waste," he said.
While the book and DeLuca's upcoming film focus on things we all can do, how much is really enough to make a difference?
"I hang out with some people who are super staunch environmentalists, and I know that you're going to get the argument that you can't nickel-and-dime your way there," Graboswky said. "But I definitely know the counter argument that doing nothing won't do anything."
Oft repeated tips like "take shorter showers" or "turn off the water while brushing your teeth," are valid behavior modifications, even if they seem really simple, she said.
"The fact is, we might all do a bunch of little things, and the ship still sinks. But we know if we do nothing, the ship will definitely sink," she said.
• • •
SIMPLE WAYS TO MALAMA 'AINA
Teach about the land
Cool your home efficiently
Use less water
Perform an energy audit
Grow native Hawaiian plants
Don't support alien species invasions
Reduce the feral animal population
Avoid polluting runoff
Source: "50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save Hawai'i" (Bess Press, $16.95)
Reach Loren Moreno at firstname.lastname@example.org.