Archive for December, 2008

Two January Events on the Big Island

 Medicinal Herbs in Forest Systems (January 17-21) and Hawaiian Islands Permaculture Convergence (January 24-25) at Uluwehi Farm and Nursery, North Kohala, Big Island of Hawaii.

December 30, 2008 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Waste Not, Want Not—Harvesting Backyard Fruit To Help Needy


With all the talk about sustainability and being green, why do we still let tons of nutritious fruit regularly hit the ground and go to waste? With so many of Maui’s community in need, now is the time to recycle or “cycle” this abundance by harvesting this ripe fruit and distributing it to the hungry. This “cycle” is referred to as “Waste Not Want Not” which is also the name of a new organization of volunteer harvesters who help Maui’s hungry by harvesting backyard fruit trees.

“Waste Not, Want Not” is comprised of local community volunteers who regularly collect ripe, unwanted fruit that would otherwise go to waste. With the help of Maui Food Bank, the fruit is distributed to locations where senior citizens and low-income communities can easily obtain this ready to eat, 100% natural nutritional fruit at no cost. “With the large increase in demand for food assistance there has never been a better time for a program like this. Fresh fruit and vegetables play a vital role in proper nutrition and having a balanced diet is the key to ones overall well being. We are always looking to bring in new sources of food and Waste Not Want Not is a great
addition.” Richard Yust, Executive Director of Maui Food Bank.

“Fruit cycling is truly a community run operation,” says Suzanne Freitas, co-founder of WNWN. “It works as long as the volunteers continue to harvest, the fruit tree owners continue to donate and the sponsors continue to supply the tools to make it all possible.”

“Waste Not Want Not” and it’s volunteers believe the unwanted fruit that would end up on the ground or in the trash should go to those who can use it but don’t have the means to collect or buy it.

“This idea is not new, “Village Harvest” of San Jose, California has been cycling fruit since 2001 and last year alone harvested 62.5 tons,” says James Mylenek Sr., co-founder and director of “Waste Not Want Not.” “We’ve been in communication with “Village Harvest” and other
volunteer harvesting groups to learn from their experiences.”

This startup organization is currently using their personal truck, barrowed ladders and other needed equipment with the hope they can expand the operation and increase their harvesting ability to serve all the communities of the Hawaiian islands.

With these challenging economic times, more and more residents have come to rely on their own local means to sustain their families. Our future is all about community involvement. “Wasting large amounts of food is no longer acceptable and so it’s time to act. The fruit is ready and waiting, lets cycle it,” says Ms. Freitas.

To learn more about “Waste Not, Want Not,” become a volunteer, donate fruit, or make a contribution to support the program, visit or call 808.874.8038 or send an email. To locate an organization near you where the Food Bank distributes the “Waste Not Want Not” fruit call 211.

December 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

Kihei Elementary School Garden


On Monday December 22 SMS put boots on the ground for our first school garden project. Three raised beds were built at Kihei Elementary School. The first gardeners will be second-grade students of Alana Kaopuiki. Pictured are Alana, Blaze, Emily, Hokuao, Maury, Nio, Stuart and Terry,

December 26, 2008 at 3:38 pm 2 comments

The Story of Stuff


Please watch this excellent film that simply and clearly describes where our stuff comes from and where it goes from extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal, how this linear system and can not run on a finite planet indefinitely and how to approach correcting the problems.

Many people who have seen The Story of Stuff have asked what they can do to address the problems identified in the film.

Each of us can promote sustainability and justice at multiple levels: as an individual, as a teacher or parent, a community member, a national citizen, and as a global citizen. As Annie says in the film, “the good thing about such an all pervasive problem is that there are so many points of intervention.” That means that there are lots and lots of places to plug in, to get involved, and to make a difference. There is no single simple thing to do, because the set of problems we’re addressing just isn’t simple. But everyone can make a difference, but the bigger your action the bigger the difference you’ll make. Here are some ideas:

10 Little and Big Things You Can Do

  1. Power down! A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money. And, if you can switch to alternative energy by supporting a company that sells green energy to the grid or by installing solar panels on your home, bravo!
  2. Waste less. Per capita waste production in the U.S. just keeps growing. There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, school, workplace, church, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace….the list is endless! The more we visibly engage in re-use over wasting, the more we cultivate a new cultural norm, or actually, reclaim an old one!
  3. Talk to everyone about these issues. At school, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus…A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” You get the point. Talking about these issues raises awareness, builds community and can inspire others to action.
  4. Make Your Voice Heard. Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last two years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about Climate Change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. Letters to the editor are a great way to help newspaper readers make connections they might not make without your help. Also local papers are often willing to print book and film reviews, interviews and articles by community members. Let’s get the issues we care about in the news.
  5. DeTox your body, DeTox your home, and DeTox the Economy. Many of today’s consumer products – from children’s pajamas to lipstick – contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary. Research online (for example, before you buy to be sure you’re not inadvertently introducing toxics into your home and body. Then tell your friends about toxics in consumer products. Together, ask the businesses why they’re using toxic chemicals without any warning labels. And ask your elected officials why they are permitting this practice. The European Union has adopted strong policies that require toxics to be removed from many products. So, while our electronic gadgets and cosmetics have toxics in them, people in Europe can buy the same things toxics-free. Let’s demand the same thing here. Getting the toxics out of production at the source is the best way to ensure they don’t get into any home and body.
  6. Unplug (the TV and internet) and Plug In (the community). The average person in the U.S. watches T.V. over 4 hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community. On-line activism is a good start, but spending time in face-to-face civic or community activities strengthens the community and many studies show that a stronger community is a source of social and logistical support, greater security and happiness. A strong community is also critical to having a strong, active democracy.
  7. Park your car and walk…and when necessary MARCH! Car-centric land use policies and life styles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet. But sometimes we don’t have an option to leave the car home because of inadequate bike lanes or public transportation options. Then, we may need to march, to join with others to demand sustainable transportation options. Throughout U.S. history, peaceful non-violent marches have played a powerful role in raising awareness about issues, mobilizing people, and sending messages to decision makers.
  8. Change your lightbulbs…and then, change your paradigm. Changing lightbulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient lightbulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That’s a no-brainer. But changing lightbulbs is just tinkering at the margins of a fundamentally flawed system unless we also change our paradigm. A paradigm is a collection of assumptions, concepts, beliefs, and values that together make up a community’s way of viewing reality. Our current paradigm dictates that more stuff is better, that infinite economic growth is desirable and possible, and that pollution is the price of progress. To really turn things around, we need to nurture a different paradigm based on the values of sustainability, justice, health, and community.
  9. Recycle your trash…and, recycle your elected officials. Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city-wide. Also, many products – for example, most electronics – are designed not to be recycled or contain toxics so recycling is hazardous. In these cases, we need to lobby government to prohibit toxics in consumer products and to enact Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, as is happening in Europe. EPR is a policy which holds producers responsible for the entire lifecycle of their products, so that electronics company who use toxics in their products, have to take them back. That is a great incentive for them to get the toxics out!
  10. Buy Green, Buy Fair, Buy Local, Buy Used, and most importantly, Buy Less. Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our dollars support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights. Look beyond vague claims on packages like “all natural” to find hard facts. Is it organic? Is it free of super-toxic PVC plastic? When you can, buy local products from local stores, which keeps more of our hard earned money in the community. Buying used items keeps them out of the trash and avoids the upstream waste created during extraction and production. But, buying less may be the best option of all. Less pollution. Less Waste. Less time working to pay for the stuff. Sometimes, less really is more

December 26, 2008 at 1:43 pm 2 comments

SMS Acknowledged As Hui Of The Year

The Maui Weekly has bestowed an award upon South Maui Sustainability as a “Hui of the Year”. Click here to read the article — we’re the 3rd group down in the story and the 4th photo down. Thanks for believing in us, MW.

December 25, 2008 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

MECO Testing Phoenix Electric Vehicles

phoenixsuvphoenixsutMaui Electric Co. (MECO) and a California manufacturer of electric vehicles signed an accord on Tuesday, Dec. 9, allowing the utility to test the durability of new battery-powered pickup trucks. Ontario, Calif.-based Phoenix Motorcars will provide 20 to 30 of the vehicles to Maui Electric by March in order to test battery technologies that use a “nano-titanite” system. It will be the first such test in the nation for Phoenix vehicles. “Electric vehicles will be less expensive to run and emit less total carbon dioxide than the same vehicle run on gasoline,” said MECO President Ed Reinhardt. “The numbers are even better when the power comes from renewable sources, and that’s what we hope to do.” Gov. Linda Lingle called the accord a significant step toward making Hawaii far more reliant on renewable sources of electricity. The six-month test on Maui will also determine how the trucks interact with the island’s electricity grid when they are recharging, as well as the devices used to connect the vehicles to an electrical source.
Maui Weekly, December 18, 2008

The four-passenger, zero-emission, advanced battery electric SUV and SUT (truck) can travel at freeway speed. Equipped with a revolutionary lithium titanate battery, this SUV will travel over 100 miles on a single 10-minute charge.* Fully electric vehicles with a sophisticated chassis and regenerative braking.

* Off-Board High-Power 250kW Charger required for 10-minute charge.

December 22, 2008 at 1:56 am Leave a comment

Composting: Is Oleander Safe to Use as Compost in Vegetable Gardens?

 I have a long hedge of pink Oleander along my driveway in South Kihei that I began pruning this weekend, after our nice rain. I’d been waiting to prune until after a rainstorm, because Oleander (Nerium oleander, a Mediterranean shrub) is highly poisonous, and dust that has settled on its leaves can irritate a gardener’s eyes and lungs. I know this from experience, as my father once pruned and chipped an Oleander hedge mid-summer and ended up in the hospital for his efforts.

Though the rain took care of my concerns about breathing posionous Oleander dust, I wondered if Oleander leaves and limbs were something that I wanted to add to the compost that I’ve been stockpiling for my backyard vegetable garden. Oleander hedges are common in South Kihei, and this seems a question that others might ask as well.

Here’s what is known:

All parts of the Oleander plant are poisonous, but especially the milky sap. It’s toxic enough that ingesting only a few leaves can kill a small child, and getting the sap on your skin can cause irritation and rash. There are anecdotal stories of people getting sick by using oleander spears for roasting foods over campfires. Even dry oleander leaves can be poisonous to pets and livestock, so never leave Oleander prunings where animals might eat them.

The good news is that the toxin in Oleander–a glycosoide called “oleandrin”–will deteriorate within about 50 days in an effective compost pile. Moreover, on tests conducted by UC Davis researchers, the toxin was not taken up by vegetables such as lettuce (which grow quickly) and tomatoes (which take longer to mature). The only possible danger the researchers noted could come from accidentally ingesting some not-fully deteriorated Oleander compost when harvesting leafy vegetables such as lettuce.

The safest solution would be to compost the Oleander leaves and twigs (taking care not to breathe the dust or getting the sap on your skin) and use them only as mulch for ornamental areas of your yard. But if you have a lot of Oleander, and want to use it for your garden, then make sure that you let it fully rot in the compost pile first, and be sure to wash your vegetables of all mulch and dirt before eating (a good practice in any case).

December 21, 2008 at 9:26 pm 1 comment

Aptera 2e: 100 mile per charge Plug-in Electric Car

110 volt Plug-in Electric; 100 miles per charge; roomy two-seater; three-wheels; solar cell-covered roof; composite aerodynamic body (low drag coefficient of 0.15—less drag than Lance Armstrong on a ten speed); gullwing doors; recycled plastic used for carpets and seat covers; made in California.

December 21, 2008 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

LEDs & Smart Lighting Could Save Trillions Of Dollars, Spark Global Innovation

 If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with energy-efficient LEDs for a period of 10 years, researchers say it would reduce global oil consumption by 962 million barrels, reduce the need for 280 global power plants, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10.68 gigatons, and ultimately result in financial savings of $1.83 trillion.
– Science Daily (click photo to link)

December 21, 2008 at 4:11 pm 1 comment

Kale Chips

  Fun recipe for chips made from fresh Kale!

December 21, 2008 at 3:52 pm Leave a comment

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December 2008