Punahou students form non-profit to help the Earth - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Punahou students form non-profit to help the Earth

Sarah Mau Sarah Mau
Kristen Ige Kristen Ige
Matt Olson Matt Olson

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) - A group of Punahou students is trying to help mother Earth by getting restaurants to use environmentally friendly products and containers. For restaurant owners the profit margin can be slim so getting them to pay more to help the environment can be a tough sell, but the kids that started the "Leaf" program are getting businesses to bite.

"Leaf stands for Leaving Earth A Future," said Sarah Mau, a junior and co-founder of the program.

It grew into a club and now blossomed into an actual non-profit organization.

"I think it's really important, I'm not saying school clubs are not important but it's kind of taken on a life of its own," said Mau.

The goal is to get Hawaii restaurants to go green. In order to be Leaf certified a business has to meet three requirements.

"To not use Styrofoam, to make sure your customers and employees are aware of your green practices and to recycle whenever you can," explained Kristen Ige, a sophomore and Leaf co-founder.


Blue Hawaii LifeStyle at Ala Moana Shopping Center is one the greenest of all 11 Leaf certified companies with cups and utensils made from corn instead of plastic.

"These are high use items. We go through a ton of these so if we were to throw all these petro cups out it would ultimately be a pretty heavy impact," said Matt Olson, Blue Hawaii LifeStyle Vice-President.

Their floor is made of cork and a non-toxic vegetable sealant. The lights are LED. Even their ink is soy. However the cups alone cost them about 20 percent more to use, but a price worth paying to "Live Healthy Live Aloha," which is Blue Hawaii LifeStyle's slogan.

"As to if we're getting more business in the large scale because of it, I don't know how to track that. I know that when people find out that's what we do they are very happy," said Olson.

"If we get really big I think we can make a really big impact on it and we can like possibly change the restaurant industry," said Ige.

Who knows? Maybe they can make a big difference. They do have meeting with the biggest restaurant chain of them all.

"We are going to meet with McDonald's which I think is a huge deal. I was so excited when I knew we were going to meet with them, I don't know they're international. It's crazy," said Mau.

They admit getting McDonalds to give up Styrofoam is a tall order but you never know, Punahou grads have been known to make change.

For more information about Leaf click on their web site. http://www.leavingearthafuture.org/

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