Good To Be Green In Maui

Charen Kepler - Director of Maui County Operations at Goodwill Industries of Hawaii

Charen Kepler – Director of Maui County Operations at Goodwill Industries of Hawaii

Meet Charen Kepler, she’s the Director of Maui County Operations and has been with Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, Inc for 3 years.  Charen oversees all programs and operations on the island of Maui as well as the First to Work TANF program statewide.  Charen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Management.  She has over 15 years of management experience.  Here’s Charen’s blog article:

In recent years Maui County has become community conscious and committed to going Green.  This Green movement stems from the island’s limited resources and the understanding that reducing, recycling and reusing are musts in order to sustain the beauty and quality of our island.   Maui’s extremely mindful Green attempts are seen through government efforts, various private businesses, and non-profit organizations.

On January 11, 2011 Maui County started the Bag Ban.  This new law prohibits the use of single use plastic bags.  This movement decreases non-biodegradable shopping bags from going into the landfills, oceans and road sides.  Since this law, store owners are liable to provide biodegradable and re-useable bags to their shoppers either for free, purchase, or minimal service charge.  Many locations also give patrons a small bag credit if they bring in their own re-usable shopping bags.  Other islands across the state such as Kauai have also joined the bag ban wagon, while other islands are in discussions to also follow suit.

Another way that Maui has been moving toward perpetuating our sustainability is looking at alternative forms of energy.  The Kaheawa Wind Farm currently has 20 turbines that use kinetic energy generated by mechanic power from the windmills that is moved into a generator which is then converted to electricity.  They plan to add another 14 turbines which will help to power electricity for approximately 18,700 homes annually.

Other private businesses are also thinking Green in their own organizations and changing some of the ways that they do business in order to play their part in saving the planet.  One way that companies are doing this is by creating Green teams.  The Fairmont Kea Lani Resort is such an organization that has developed a team of staff members who meet quarterly to dedicate thought, energy and action to new environmentally friendly incentives and programs.  Another company that has been doing their part to bring awareness to Green efforts to Maui is the Maui Ocean Center.  This past March they celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by bringing a new meaning to the green significance behind the holiday.  Maui Ocean Center sponsored an event which provided green living presentations, eco-friendly vendors and informative sessions on land and energy conservation.

In the month of April the Blue Planet Foundation sponsored a Bulb Blitz where some Maui organizations and not-for-profits  participated in exchanging incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs to the public for free.  CFLs are more energy-efficient because they provide the same amount of light while using less energy or watts.  Organizations that did the manual labor of collecting and giving out light bulbs were rewarded for their efforts by receiving monies from Blue Planet as a fundraiser type project.  Some of the Maui agencies that participated were the Paia Youth Center, Baldwin Theater Guild and the Kihei Composite Squadron of Civil Air Control.

Asia Thompson, Job Retention Coach for SEE Maui

Asia Thompson, Job Retention Coach for SEE Maui

Lastly, we here at the Maui site of Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, recycle our cardboard boxes, aluminum and plastic cans and bottles, toner cartridges and shredded paper.  Our most recent step toward helping our Maui community to go Green will be the opening a thrift store in 2012 click here for more information about the Maui Goodwill Store.  Goodwill’s retail store adds to the Green awareness on Maui by allowing the community more options to keep re-usable items out of our landfills.  Did you know that Goodwill helps to keep more than 13 million pounds out of Hawaii’s landfills?  Revenue generated by Goodwill stores directly fund our Human Services programs.  These programs improve the lives of the people in our community.  To learn more about Goodwill’s community impact visit www.higoodwill.org.  Goodwill’s mission helps people with employment barriers to reach their full potential and become self-sufficient.

Luke Bobo, Employment Counselor for Imi Loa Maui and Chentelle Rowland Team Lead Employment Counselor for FTW VR Maui

Luke Bobo, Employment Counselor for Imi Loa Maui and Chentelle Rowland Team Lead Employment Counselor for FTW VR Maui

The Green movement on Maui is prevalent and alive as described above - the various organizations actively work to improve our island living.  If you live on Maui or you’re planning to visit and are interested in joining the Green movement or have a Green project of your own, go to www.greentowns.com.  At this site, you’ll be able to find or post current initiatives and opportunities to protect our environment.