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All of the Hawaiian Islands are complex but fragile ecosystems that can be easily affected and altered by introduced influences and outside factors. One simple example: the Hawaiian Islands have the highest number of endangered and threatened plant and animal species of anyplace on the planet. Though these islands are some of the most remote in the world, they are by no means isolated, hosting more than seven million visitors each year, or seven times more than the resident population.

The model for sustainability on the island of Hawaii and other Hawaiian Islands was already in place and practiced here for more than a millennium, well into modern times, by the first inhabitants, the native Hawaiians. They were masters at using the islands’ land and sea resources to sustain what are thought to have been populations that were as large as or maybe larger than that of today. Their fishing, farming, planting, aquaculture and methods of creative food sustainability and use of ahupuaa (contiguous land divisions which extended from the uplands to the sea) are widely regarded as the most efficient in the Pacific.

The Hawaiians understood and were keenly attuned to their environment and how to keep in balance with it. Though the ancient Hawaiian ways of living are not practiced by the majority of inhabitants here today, these ways serve as a guide and constant reminders of the need to be in harmony with this special place.

Following are several links to resources that have lots of information about our Hawaii environment, living "green" in Hawaii, and how we can develop a sustainable Hawaii that reduces our dependence for food and energy from outside sources. Have a suggestion for a link that we might have missed? Send your comments & suggestions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Big Island Sustainability Festival 

E Malama Aina ("Lets Take Care of the Land"), a 2-day Big Island Sustainability Festival Nov. 7-8, 2008 at Hilo's Mooheau Park, which will offer consumers and businesses a firsthand look at Hawaii Island innovations and best practices aimed at sustainability.

Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan

Find answers in the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Plan – the people’s plan. Produced from one of the comprehensive community-based planning efforts in our state’s history, the Hawaii 2050 Plan is a blueprint for a sustainable Hawaii. In 2050, the energy we use is clean, renewable and produced mostly in Hawai‘i. Much of the food we consume is produced locally. We minimize waste by recycling. We are a strong and healthy community with access to affordable housing, transportation and health care. Our public education system prepares our people for productive, meaningful and fulfilling lives.

The 21st Century Ahupua'a

The 21st Century Ahupua'a concept is a way of life thatʻs dedicated to the advancement of sustainable development which meets current and future socio-cultural (people), ecological (place) and economic (prosperity) needs. The concept borrows from the Native Hawaiian land, resource and behavior management model called an “ahupua’a.”


State of Hawai’i Ocean Resource Management Plan

Recommends an integrated approach to managing natural and cultural resources by building traditional Hawaiian management principles (ahupua’a) that considers the impacts of land-based activities on ocean resources and fosters collaboration and stewardship.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (released in 2005)

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was called for by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000. Initiated in 2001, the objective of the MA was to assess the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and the scientific basis for action needed to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of those systems and their contribution to human well-being.

International Panel on Climate Change Report (IPCC)

The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The main activity of the IPCC is to provide in regular intervals Assessment Reports of the state of knowledge on climate change. The latest one is "Climate Change 2007", the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report.

Kuleana Green Business Program

Initiated in 2005, the Kuleana Green Business Program is the first program in the State of Hawai`i that promotes ethical and socially responsible business practices and environmental stewardship among every sector of the local economy. Chamber businesses qualify as program members by demonstrating their kuleana (right and responsibility) to generate profits while also creating positive impacts in their social and natural environments. As business citizens, they set high standards of integrity, commitment and respect in their engagement with employees, customers, community, and the environment.

The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)

BALLE is 15,000-member strong meta-network of over 50 local business networks throughout the U.S. and Canada supporting the growth and development of community-based businesses. Members of local networks encourage local purchasing by consumers and businesses and advocate public policies that strengthen independent local businesses, promote economic equity, and protect the environment. BALLE connects its local networks to share best practices, and provides members with tools, business models, and other resources.

Local Currency - Hawaii Dala

The Hawaii Dala is a new private voluntary currency that protects everyone’s purchasing power, grows local business, and creates a strong local economy for everyone’s advantage. Ask for the new local dala throughout Hawaii in $20, $10, $5 Silver Dalas and now the new $1 Silver Dala Certificate.

Steady-State Economy

What is a steady-state economy? find out here are the Encyclopedia of the Earth.

GDP Alternatives: The Human Progress Indicator

Sustainability indicators provide a roadmap for public policy. An effective set of indicators highlights critical social, economic, and environmental problems and provides a way to measure the effectiveness of programs designed to alleviate these problems.

Cooperative Economics

An article on Cooperative Economics by the Heartland Institute.

Whole Systems Agriculture Plan for Hawai'i Island

This document reports on the state of the locally produced food and agriculture sectors on the Island of Hawaii, and analyzes these sectors to identify key barriers and leverage points for increasing local market share.

Farmer's Markets

There are over 15 farmer's markets on Hawai'i Island. This link lists the locations and dates of the farmer's markets for the Big Island.

Friendly Aquaponics

A Honoka‘a company owned by husband and wife team Susanne Friend and Tim Mann. Training other people in how to do aquaponics is part of their mission. They teach all aspects of construction, day-to-day management, and for the commercial training, marketing. They also offer free, two-hour farm tours on Saturdays at 10 a.m.

Hawaii Organic Farmers Association (HOFA)

Hawaii Organic Farmers Association (HOFA) is a non-profit membership organization that administers organic certification in the State of Hawaii. Located in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, HOFA promotes organic and sustainable agriculture through research, education, and by providing organic certification services in compliance with the Federal Organic Rule enacted in 2000.

Build an Herb Spiral!

Learn how to build your own herb spiral to produce your own herbs for culinary or medicinal purposes. Quickly learn how with this DIY tutorial.

Setup a Community Garden!

This fact sheet in the “Food for ME” series includes suggestions on how to set up a community garden project, recruit volunteers and establish a garden plot.

Community Supported Agriculture

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center provides resources on how to develop community supported agriculture programs in your area.

La'akea Community - Local Permaculture in Hawaii

La’akea Community formed in 2005 when a group of six people purchased La’akea Gardens. Our vision as an intentional community is to: steward the land at La’akea, continue the mission of teaching permaculture at La’akea while expanding into others aspects of sustainability such as personal and relationship growth, communication techniques, emotional processing, healing arts and creative arts.


EcoSutra is an organization dedicated to building the resources for people to network into new models of environmentally and economically sustainable villages. By bridging renewable energy technology to permaculture - an environmental design science that mimics naturally occurring ecosystems and accelerates the earth’s natural regenerative processes, we can create sustainable healthy communities to live, work and play. Through our events and media projects we look to propel the eco-movement and provide the public with the networking tools to achieve success.

Sustainable Island Products (S.I.P.)

Specializing in the sale and distribution of plant-based food and drink To-Go! supplies and other Planet and People Friendly products. Located in Hilo on Hawaii Island, S.I.P. provides superior-quality Sustainable product alternatives to well-established markets that currently utilize outmoded, unsustainable, toxic and volatile price-point products.

Mushroom Kits to Grow Edible Mushrooms!

You can grow your own mushrooms with kits available locally! Order a kit online or visit the mushroom farm in Hamakua on Hawai'i Island.

Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG)

Small scale hydro power, water pumps, windmills, biodigesters, stoves. Doing great things with their technology all over the world. [via Make]
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

ACEEE provides research, policy analysis, conferences and education on energy efficiency as a means of promoting both economic prosperity and environmental protection. Collaborating with experts from universities, national laboratories, and the private sector, ACEEE has helped develop efficiency programs and policies for utilities, states and the federal government. They also provide technical assistance and research on energy efficiency in building, industrial applications, agriculture and transportation.

Hawaii State Incentives ($$) for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)

Thinking about "going green"? The State of Hawaii and the US Federal government has programs that can reduce the cost! DSIRE is a regularly updated database of state, local, utility, and selected federal incentives & rebate programs that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy.

United States Department of Energy, State Energy Program

The State Energy Program (SEP) provides grants to states and directs funding to state energy offices from technology programs in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. States use grants to address their energy priorities and program funding to adopt emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP)

REPP’s goal is to accelerate the use of renewable energy by providing credible information, insightful policy analysis, and innovative strategies amid changing energy markets and mounting environmental needs. REPP’s activities include researching, publishing, and disseminating information, creating policy tools, and hosting on-line renewable energy discussion groups.

Puna Geothermal Venture

Puna Geothermal Venture, the only commercial geothermal facility in the state of Hawaii, has been generating sustainable electricity for the Big Island for 15 years. Geothermal electricity accounts for 30 percent of the state’s renewable energy—more than wind and solar combine, and saves 144,000 barrels of oil a year—more than 1.8 million barrels since 1993.

ProVision Technologies

ProVision Technologies, Inc was formed to take advantage of the growing market for photovoltaic (PV) applications across the Hawaiian Islands and the Asia-Pacific region. ProVision is based in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, the island known for its geographical diversity and strong potential for renewable energy applications. ProVision's mission is to provide solar electric solutions to power individual households, commercial facilities and the community.

For information on solar hot water heaters, check out this great article from Fine Homebuilding magazine which details various type of solar hot water systems.

National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO)

NAESCO publishes case studies focused on energy efficiency retrofits in local government facilities in the United States. These case studies demonstrate that local governments can modernize schools, hospitals, and municipal infrastructure and, at the same time, reduce operating costs.

International Energy Agency (IEA)

The IEA acts as energy policy advisor to 26 member countries (all members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in their efforts to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for their citizens. The IEA’s initial role was to coordinate international measure in times of oil supply emergencies. Its work now also includes market reform, climate change policies, energy technology collaboration and outreach. is a clearinghouse for information regarding the peak in global energy supply.

Hele-On Bus

Ride the bus for free! Circumnavigate the Big Island!

Aloha Green

Environmental Principles in Practice- The vision of Aloha Green is to serve as a positive catalyst for economic-sustainability and revitalization of the Village communities along the Hamakua Coastal Region on the Big Island of Hawaii. Sustainable development is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Aloha Green is a co-chair of the  E Malama Aina Festival, a 2-day Hawaii Island Sustainability Festival Nov. 7-8, 2008 at Hilo's Mooheau Park.


Planetizen is a leading online forum for the urban planning, design, and development community. It includes urban planning news, commentary, interviews, event coverage, book reviews, announcements, jobs, consultant listings, training, and other resource. Content on Planetizen covers a wide number of planning, design, and development issues, from transportation to global warming, architecture, to infrastructure, housing and community development to historic preservation.

Project for Public Spaces

PPS provides technical assistance, training, research and other services to cre3ate and sustain public spaces that build communities. Since 1975 PPS has worked in over 1,500 communities in the United States, Canada and around the world, helping people turn their public spaces into vital community places.

Smart Growth America

Smart Growth America is a coalition of nearly 100 state and national advocacy organizations that have a stake in how metropolitan explansion affects the environment, quality of life and economic sustainability. The diverse coalition partners include national, state and local groups working on behalf of the environment, historic preservation, social equity, land conservation, neighborhood redevelopment, farmland protection, labor, town planning, and more.

Smart Growth Network

Smart Growth Network raises awareness, promotes best practices and develops tools for smart growth. The Network’s partners tend to work at a national level, and include environmental groups, historic preservation organizations, professional organizations, developers, real estate interests, and government entities.

Urban Land Institute (ULI)

ULI is a nonprofit research and educational institute whose mission is to provide responsible leadership in the use of land in order to enhance the total environment. Established in 1936, the institute today has some 30,000 members and associates from fifty countries representing the entire spectrum of the land use and development disciplines. As the preeminent, multidisciplinary real estate forum, ULI facilitates the open exchange of ideas, information, and experience among local, national, and international industry leaders and policy makers dedicated to creating better places.

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO)

AMPO serves the needs and interests of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) nationwide by providing technical assistance and training, conferences, research, and a forum for transportation policy development and coalition building.

Waste Management Study on the Big Island

The purpose of this report is to inform the current conversation on the best practices available to the county for reducing the amount of waste that goes to final disposal. It includes recommendations that the author believes would enhance the overall sustainability of the economic and ecological systems of the island.

Transitioning to Zero Waste: What Can Local Governments Do Now?

by Helen Spiegelman (2006). Gives information and resources on how to change into a zero waste economy.

Recycle Hawaii

Recycle Hawai`i is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization serving Hawai`i Island. We currently offer free public recycling educational services on behalf of the County of Hawai`i, the State Department of Health, and our contributors.

The Freecycle Network™

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,661 groups with 6,287,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.

Stop Junk Mail!

Prevent waste at the source. If you receive mail that you don’t want nor need go to this website to remove your names from their lists.

Compost at Home!

Create a vermiculture kit and use worms to create compost.

Recycled Products Guide

Use this recycling guide to make sure that you are buying recycled products as well as recycling them too!

Wasted Opportunity: A Closer Look at Landfill and Incineration

A report prepared by Zero Waste - New Zealand Trust - on how landfill and incineration technologies are incompatible with the concept of sustainable economy and zero waste. Zero Waste is a whole-system approach to redesigning the flow of resources through society.

Getting There! The Road to Zero Waste

New Zealand's Experience About Strategies for Sustainable Communities prepared by Envision New Zealand in August 2003.

From Unbridled Consumerism to Zero Waste - The Crucial Role of Local Government

A Powerpoint Presentation prepared by Helen Spiegelman from the Product Policy Institute at the Building Sustainable Communities Conference in British Columbia, November 2007.

Circular - Restorative and Regenerative Design - Economy

Additional Readings in sustainable economy, materials economy, and energy.

Linear - Take, Make, Waste Economy

Additional readings dealing with extraction, distribution, consumption, indigenous people, global impacts, water, and disposal.

Government and Corporate Accountability

Additional readings in corporate accountability.

Global Ecological Footprint Report

Global Footprint Network is committed to fostering a world where all people have the opportunity to live satisfying lives within the means of Earth's ecological capacity. They are dedicated to advancing the scientific rigor and practical application of the Ecological Footprint, a tool that quantifies human demand on nature, and nature's capacity to meet these demands.

 Check out the "Go Green Hawaii" cable television show on OC16.

Green Blogs

Have a suggestion for a link that we might have missed?  Send your comments & suggestions to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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