Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Caretakers of the Earth

Last night I had a dream that my son Kai, looking over the wreckage of the planet, asked why I brought him into the world. Upon waking, I read a quote that appears in most holy books about humans being caretakers of the earth, not masters. And both made me think about Kauai--about those epic sunsets and waves, the reefs (that friends say are bleaching quicker than you can eat a plate lunch), those peaks of mountains, sleeping giant and the Kalalau Valley that has both shielded humans from harm and brought about countless deaths. I imagined the view from the top of Kokee, a hike in the redwood forest, dipping my toes in Kee Beach. Then I envisioned the alii royalty canoeing up the Wailua River from Heiau to Heiau, ignorantly killing off bird and plant species and I realized that it is our time to evolve.

As lovers of Kauai, whether it be inhabitants or visitors, it is up to us to care for this land. And there are so many easy ways to do so. Here are some ways we can all help keep Kauai beautiful:

1. Recycle. OK, so it is a bummer that Kauai places don't automatically recycle, especially since their landfills are filling rapidly. But it is not hard to actually recycle yourself. Here's how to make it worth it. There is a recycle center across the street from Poipu Beach Park--make a day of it: go for a swim, have a drink or a shave ice, go surfing and help save the planet.

2. Even better than recycling: bring your own water bottle and refill it; unwrap your packaged toiletries at home.

3. Limit your driving as much as possible. Rather than staying on the North Shore and driving to the South and West shores a bunch of times, split your trip in half. Even better: Take the Kauai Bus. Talk about a cultural education.

4. Before hiking anywhere, clean the bottom of your shoes. Invasive plants hurt the endemic plants of the island. And since Kauai has one of the highest rates of native plants and animals, it is our job to help sustain them.

5. Buy local. The Kauai farmers markets rock. You'll find head-sized avocados, homemade banana bread and super sweet bananas. And supporting local farmers helps keep locals in business.

As caretakers of this land, we need to govern ourselves, making sure we don't take too much without giving a little back. It's not that hard and using these simple tips, we can experience a side of the island many tourists don't see.


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