With an abundance of sunshine and natural resources, it is no wonder Maui is a leader in ecotourism and renewable energy. There are many opportunities for interpretive events, talks and walks to learn about the ecology of the rainforest, mountains, oceans and beaches, and how you can help preserve it. Learn about Maui’s environment at places like Hawaii Nature Center, Maui Ocean Center or the Kealia Board Walk.
On the renewable energy side, Hawaii is a natural. Solar and wind powered homes and businesses are increasing. You may notice a line of windmills on the West Maui mountains above Ma’alaea. We even have biodiesel fuel made from beautiful sunflowers grown right on island. You can even rent a biodiesel car.
Part of the wisdom of modern ecotourism is to learn from the past. Ancient Hawaiians practiced sustainability in their daily lives. Our kupuna (Hawaiian leaders) still teach us today. For example, the ancient system of kapu (things that were forbidden) restricted fishing and agriculture to certain seasons, which were also modified depending on resources, in order to replenish the earth and species reproduction.
Here is an excerpt from the University of Hawaii article Hawaii: Sustainability as a lived practice:
“In order to survive with only the resources available on these tiny islands in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean – 5,000 miles away from the nearest land mass – you were either sustainable, or you were dead. Native Hawaiians created a thriving, vibrant and flourishing culture and society living within the archipelagoʻs ecological boundaries, and in kinship with the natural world.”
Plastic is a huge issue for our islands, as much ends up in the ocean, choking marine life. You can help by being an awesome environmental tourist. Participate in a beach cleanup. Another way is to shop with a reusable bag. Plastic bags have been taken out of grocery stores, and Styrofoam containers were eliminated as of the end of 2018. Skip the plastic drink straws too, and drink right from the container, or buy reusable, eco-friendly bamboo straws. Being responsible with recyclables and trash is a big help too.
Being eco-friendly when visiting Maui helps “malama the aina” or care for the land. You may also hear the term “keeping it pono,” which means doing what is right and living in balance with positivity.