by Tania Harmon
Last Friday, Top Maui Homes along with 30 of our colleagues took the morning off to do something vitally important. What could be so important that an entire Real Estate Brokerage would take a full day out of the market? To give back to our community.
Every year Windermere Real Estate offices across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, California, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii take a day off from selling homes to help make a difference in their local communities. Since 1984, Windermere associates have dedicated a day of work to complete neighborhood improvement projects. You’ll find Windermere Realtors doing a variety of projects, such as cleaning, landscaping, and painting at local senior citizens centers, facilities for homeless children and adults, public parks and schools, low-income housing, and emergency shelters, and volunteering at food banks, to name just a few.
This year Wailea Realty chose a service that is near and dear to our hearts and vital to our local community and economy. Wailea Realty partnered with Pacific Whale Foundation to clean up one stretch of our island’s shoreline. It was only later we realized that our Windermere Community Service Day just so happened to fall on World Oceans Day – how apropros! In a few short hours we collected all of this!
Although we did find quite a few large pieces, a good portion of what we collected were cigarettes, bottle caps, and micro-plastic. As clean as our beaches are there is always work to be done. Every piece counts. You too can make a difference. Every time you step onto the beach, commit to pick up 3 – just 3 pieces of trash or plastic. Imagine the impact we could have if we all just picked up 3!
by Tania Harmon
Photo Credit: Pacific Biodiesel
Earlier this year I recall seeing a picture of State Representative Kaniela Ing posing in a newly planted field come across my Facebook feed. The post mentioned hemp and sunflowers as a possible agricultural alternative for renewable energy. I thought to myself, hey that would be cool if they could make it work on a large scale. I moved on to the next post without giving it much more thought.
“We just planted the first regenerative crops, sunflowers (with hemp coming soon), on old Maui sugarcane land! The end of the sugar era was met with a lot of fear, but Kelly King and Pacific Biodiesel saw an opportunity for positive change and unity. Uncle Alika Atay, Elle Cochran, and I are proud to share this vision of sustainable, natural agriculture, and a 100% renewable future for Hawai’i. #forMauisFuture” (Photo Credit : Kaniela Ing’s Facebook Page)
That is until 2 months later when my Instagram feed turned bright yellow with images of anybody and everybody galloping through gorgeous fields of sunflowers. As the realization that the mountain scape in the background was the Wailuku hillside, it all came together. And for the first time I actually considered, perhaps this could be our future in Maui. Visions of yellow fields blanketing the Maui landscape as I peer out an airplane window upon landing came to mind – and it made me smile.
The endless, majestic green waves of sugarcane that once covered the island had started to disappear last year. With each return flight the sight of the expansive green that had become symbolic of a welcome home hug had slowly started to brown. And the wider the brown fields grew, the heavier my heart became. There is no doubt that the end of the sugarcane era was inevitable, but the uncertainty of what would replace the green blanket had been weighing heavy on many minds on this island. Perhaps sunflowers, synonymous with happy feelings of hope and renewal, are the perfect symbol for the next generation of crops on Maui. For a few weeks in April, Maui residents and tourists became euphoric with the sight of the sunflower field. So enamored at the sight in fact, the county had to post ‘No Parking’ signs along the sides of the road. Sightseers were so distracted by the beauty they seemed to forget the fact that the parcel sits on the corner of two busy highways.
Hawaii’s Largest Biofuel Crop Project
It turns out that Pacific Biodiesel had planted just 14 acres, a small portion of the 115-acre sight reserved for this new project. The crop was perfectly timed to bloom in time for an Earth Day community celebration and the plan was PR gold. It’s all anyone talked about for weeks, but as it turns out, the date was actually selected to commemorate the one year anniversary of Pacific Biodiesel received the incredible honor of being named ‘The World’s First Biodiesel Producer Certified by the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance for Sustainable Production and Distribution Practices’. With a public commitment to research and utilize alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to use non-GMO crops, local compost to replace fertilizer and crop rotation to reduce pests Pacific Biodiesel has quickly become a community favorite company.
Most people on Maui know Pacific Biodiesel is headquartered in Kahului and converts used cooking oil from restaurants into biodiesel which powers boats and cars in Maui. Some may even know the company was one of the first commercial biodiesel plants in the US and actually had the first retail biodiesel pump anywhere in the US. What people might be surprised to learn is that according to the company’s press release, the bulk of Pacific Biodiesel’s fuel is currently used for utility power generation – all while diverting 270 tons of trap grease from the Maui landfill each month. I had no idea!
Hawaii’s Green Energy Goals
The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership created in 2008 between the State of Hawaii and the US Department of Energy, set out to chart a path to energy independence in the Aloha state by 2045. In 2015, Hawaii generated more than 23% of our energy from renewable resources. With alternative options for the grid including solar and wind, biodiesel may be able to move into a ‘back up’ position (i.e. to be used to stabilize the grid when wind and solar outputs drop off). Pacific Biodiesel foresees the most valuable use of biodiesel in the future will be in heavy-duty transportation. And because biodiesel can be used in any diesel engine or turbine, the impact it can have on Maui as we aim for energy independence and less reliance on importing our food is enormous.
I think what excites me the most about this initiative is the company’s ‘Zero Waste Agriculture and Energy Model’. The crops can be used not only for fuel, but for food, fertilizer and as a chemical-free environment for honey bees to thrive and pollinate (vital to our local farms and flora). Additionally the company’s expansion plan to build new facilities on neighbor islands is forward thinking, reducing inter-island shipping, as well as expanding jobs throughout the state – better for our land, better for our ocean, better for our community.
Photo Credit: Pacific Biodiesel Facebook Page
The next crop is expected to bloom later this month. I look forward to seeing my social media feeds light up with bright beautiful yellow sunflowers.
For more information and to keep up-to-date with the company’s progress visit http://www.biodiesel.com/
Biodiesel is available at retail pumps on Oahu, the Big Island and on Maui at:
Pacific Biodiesel Pump located at 40 Hobron Ave. in Kahului and
Minit Stop Lahaina – Ohana Fuels located at 10 Kupuohi St. in Lahaina.