On Earth Day, community comes together to celebrate, protect Hawaii’s environment

Earth Day celebrations and volunteer efforts are happening around the state this weekend.
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 7:56 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 22, 2022 at 8:12 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Earth Day celebrations and volunteer efforts are happening around the state this weekend.

The holiday also falls on Volunteer Hawaii Week — an effort some 10,000 people are expected to participate in.

The City and County of Honolulu will also release the 2022 Annual Sustainability Report while Mayor Rick Blangiardi speaks from the Board of Water Supply headquarters on Beretania Street later Friday afternoon.

It’s been a full year since the mayor announced the city’s first-ever climate action plan. One of the biggest goals in that plan is to be carbon negative by the year 2045 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next five years.

Matt Gonser is chief resilience officer and executive director at the city’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency. He says municipal governments have to lead by example, citing the city’s efforts to reduce water usage during the Red Hill water crisis as one of the ways they’re doing just that.

“We at the city, as a large institutional water user, wanted to demonstrate and heed the Board of Water Supply’s call for all folks across the island to voluntarily reduce water usage in this very strained time,” he said. “So we’re excited that we are able to step up in that regard, but on climate action in particular, we’re very pleased to share that for four years running now, the city has declined or reduced our energy usage.”

Gonser added, “This is both through efficiency measures, but also investing in our buildings and in our own operations so that we can continue to practice sustainable city operations and bring those savings back to the people.”

A number of beach cleanups are happening this weekend.

For the first time in two years, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is hosting a large scale community effort at Waimanalo Beach Park this Sunday.

“We have a whole set of activities planned with about 22 organizations that will be sharing their booths with interactive opportunities and educational activities to teach people about our waste streams so we can better understand how to reduce, how to reuse, how to recycle and compost,” said Rafeal Bergstrom, Executive Director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

Check in for that event is at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 24 at Waimanalo Beach Park.

Also on the Windward side, Sea Life Park is teaming up with 808 Cleanups for another beach cleanup and the release of two young honu from the park’s honu conservation and breeding program. After the event, you can enjoy half off admission price at the park where more activities are planned.

“I think people are very shocked when we do beach cleanups to see the magnitude of debris that’s lined up on the beach and unfortunately those end up being ingested by various marine animals,” said Jeff Pawloski, animal curator with Sea Life Park. “So when you clean the beach, not only are you getting the opala out of there, but you’re also protecting the animals that might accidentally eat it.”

The cleanup will start at Kaupo Beach Park in Waimanalo this Sunday, April 24 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., followed by the blessing and honu release happening at 11 a.m.

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