Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the natural beauty that Hawaiʻi has to offer. Is it also provides us with an opportunity to recommit to our sustainability goals.
Being Water Wise
Water is one of the world’s most vital resources and its supply is limited. This is why water conservation is essential. During the summer, the average person uses more water than any other time of the year.
Five Super Simple Ways to Save Water during the Summer provides tips that you can use year-round.
- Some restaurants automatically provide water at your table and refill it often. To conserve water, let your server how many waters are needed. When asked “top off,” your water only if you will be drinking it. This prevents un-drunk water being poured down the drain.
- Fruits and vegetables are important to a healthy lifestyle. There is a growing trend to support Farmerʻs Marketʻs or starting a personal veggie/fruit garden. In lieu of rinsing your produce under running water, fill a bowl or pot of water to clean your “garden greens.” When you are done rinsing, pour the leftover water on your plants instead of down the drain. Worried about spilling water before you get out the door? Set up your own “garden stand” and clean your produce outside! This will make it easier to water your plants after cleaning, and if you “spill” you have nothing to worry about.
- Invest in reusable water containers that are easy to clean and sanitize. There are a variety of reusable containers, in a variety of colors, patterns, and sizes for both hot and cold drinks. Honolulu Community College has refillable water stations located around campus to help quench your thirst in between classes.
For more year-round tips, check out our September 2017 blog, Wai, Wai, Wai? Why You Should Reduce Your Use.
Help Your Garden Grow & Save Water
Summers in Hawaiʻi can get hot. While the extreme heat can make water conservation and yard maintenance challenging, there are steps you can take to be responsible even in the summer months.
100 Ways to Conserve Water provides some tips that you can use year-round. To help you create a more water conscientious yard, we have provided you with some local resources you can “tap” into.
Use Native Plants in Your Garden and Landscaping
Native Hawaiian plants are those which came to the Hawaiian Islands by natural means such as birds, ocean currents air currents.
The Board of Water Supply (BWS) has a Native Hawaiian Plants page on their website that will provide you with information on how to get your yard ready, places you can visit to see native plants (so you can make informed decisions), and how to take care of them.
Each year the BWS and its Halawa Xeriscape Garden host an annual Open House and Unthirsty Plant Sale that features a variety of drought tolerant plants that can survive the hottest seasons of the year. This yearʻs plant sale will take place on Saturday, August 4 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The state celebrates Arbor Day in Hawaiʻi with a native plant, tree and shrub give away. Each year more than 6,000 plants are distributed through this event. While Arbor Day in Hawaiʻi is celebrated on the first Friday of November, the annual “green give” takes place, across the state, on the Saturday after Arbor Day. This yearʻs giveaway will take place on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Check the Arbor Day in Hawaiʻi website in October for more details and information about this yearʻs events.
Using plants that are hardy and drought tolerant, otherwise known as xeric plants, in landscaping is a water-wise decision and is a reasonable solution to help reduce outdoor water consumption.
Approximately 50% of water consumption for an average single-family home is used outdoors. Xeriscaping can reduce water use anywhere from 30-80%, resulting in comparable savings in water and sewage charges.
The University of Hawaiʻi College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) has a variety of publications, including one on how xeriscape gardening will help you be water-wise, as well as a list of plants that hardy and drought tolerant.
Visit Your Local Xeriscape Garden
BWSʻs Halawa Xeriscape Garden a living, a residential-scale exhibit of xeric (dry) plants that use are beautiful and “water-wise.” The garden opened its doors in 1989 as a way to educate Oʻahu residents on water conservation through yards, gardens, and landscaping.
As a way to support Oʻahu residents through their journey to creating water-wise yard, BWS and the Friends of Halawa Xeriscape Garden (FOHXG) has a Xeric Seed Program. Through this program, one xeric plant is featured every month. Visitors may receive a FREE seed packet or seedling as well as information about the plantʻs origin, facts, and how to care for it. The “xeric of the month” is unveiled on the first Wednesday of the month via their website and visitors may receive one during the gardenʻs hours of operation.
Attend a Workshop
To support Oʻahu residents in being water-wise gardeners, Halawa Xeriscape Garden hosts a variety of workshops that cover a variety of topics such as potting soil selection, succulent propagation by repurposing broken terra-cotta plants, and aquaponics.
CTAHRʻs Urban Garden Center, located in Pearl City, offers programs in urban horticulture. The one-stop educational facility is owned by CTAHRʻs Cooperative Extension Service and provides local school outreach programs and gardening demonstrations for Oʻahu residents. On the second Saturday of each month the garden hosts garden demonstrations, a “Got a Plant Question” booth, seed sales, and self-tours. They also host volunteer plant sales periodically throughout the year.
Out and About: Go Holo Holo!
The summer months provide us with time to get out and enjoy all beauty and outdoor adventure that our island paradise has to offer.
As you enjoy the beaches, streams and hiking trails on Oʻahu, remember to mālama (take care of) the ʻāina (land) and the wai/kai (fresh and ocean water).
Green Travel Tips For Visitors provides information on how you can be pono (right, proper) while adventuring the great outdoors of Oʻahu. While the targeted audience is tourists, the tips are great for kamaʻāina (local residents) as well.
These are just three tips provided:
Leave the Outdoors Cleaner Than You Found It
If you see trash (plastic bags, plastic bottles, cans, etc.) remove it. When you put ʻopala(trash) in its proper place, you are saving animals that live in the environment you are exploring. Litter kills hundreds of animals every year. Pick up and dispose of trash, even if it’s not yours.
Admire, Donʻt Approach, Green Sea Turtles and/or Hawaiian Monk Seals
As a way to assist in increasing the numbers of Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles, the law requires observers to stay away by at least 100 feet. If you believe the animal may be in distress, do not approach it. Report stranded, entangled or injured monk seal by calling NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Hotline at (888) 256-9840. If you believe a sea turtle is injured, stranded, hooked, entangled, etc., please call the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Turtle Biology and Assessment Program at (808) 725-5730 Monday – Friday. On the weekends and holidays, you can report turtles in distress to UH Mānoaʻs Marine Option Program, a contractor of NMFS, at (808) 286-4377.
Practice Catch and Release
Catch and release fishing is one way to conserve native fish species. When practiced “fishermen” carefully and immediately return the fish according to requirements of size and species to the water where it was caught.  Catch and release is a sustainable practice that allows the fish to live another day, grow bigger and productively spawn. This ensures that there will be future populations to fish.
Sustainable ShenanigansFor the Summer: Getting Green With the Kids
It can be hard to find things to do with your keiki (children) during the summer vacation. If you anticipate hearing the dreaded phrase, “thereʻs nothing to do,” peruse through our previous blogs to find activities that will keep them busy and reaffirm your familyʻs commitment to being green.
While a number of our blogs are centered around a seasonal theme (i.e., Christmas, Motherʻs Day, Graduation Season), many of the featured activities and projects can be done year round.
Here are just three examples of projects you and your keiki can work on during summer vacation, or throughout the year.
- Make Lei Lei is not only an important part of Hawaiian culture but also the culture of Hawaiʻi. Lei making and giving are two things that make our island home unique. Lei is given to someone to celebrate a special occasion such as a birthday, retirement, wedding or graduation. Have your keiki help you make lei. Lei can be made from yard clippings, remanent ribbon/fabric, soda tabs or plastic bags. Not only are you saving green, but you are teaching them a local tradition while re-committing to sustainable practices.
- Tote Time Have the family do some summer cleaning and clearing. Before you donate your used items, see if there are old t-shirts in the purge pile. Old shirts can be repurposed into a no-sew tote bag that can be used year round. These easy to make totes are perfect to carry beach toys, haul books between the library and home, or be added to your reusable shopping bag collection.
- Grow Some Green Take advantage of summer vacation by having your keiki help you start a year-round-garden. You can start a small container or vertical garden or nurture easy to care for succulents. This gardening project is the perfect way to start your own xeriscape garden (see above). Spruce up your garden with plant markers made from painted/decorated old wooden spoons or rocks.
- Gifts to Give Finally, summer is a great time to start making home-made gifts for Fatherʻs Day, upcoming birthdays and even the Holiday Season. Last monthʻs blog, Trash That Mom Will Treasure: DIY Motherʻs Day Gifts, provided ideas on DIY gifts that anyone may enjoy and appreciate, such as homemade bath salts, storage baskets made from t-shirt yarn, or additional seating made from 5-gallon buckets or a bookshelf turned on its side.
Enjoy this summer by renewing your commitment to living a more sustainable lifestyle.