LIHUE — At local schools, events and gatherings Zero Waste Kaua‘i has become a routine presence, and as Kaua‘i County is taking a closer look at waste management strategies the organization is making changes as well.
The organization was formed 2006 as a 501 (c)3 through Garden Island Resource Conservation, in response to the inclusion of a waste-to-energy strategy that involved incineration in the county’s then proposed Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan.
Over the years, the organization has notched a few triumphs, one of them being their work at Taste Of Hawai‘i, according to founding member John Harder points to Taste of Hawai‘i
“One of our first successful efforts was working with the Kapa‘a Rotary and making the Taste of Hawai‘i the first Zero Waste Event in the state,” Harder said. “Another success waste the drafting and passage of the County Zero Waste Resolution in 2011.”
That 2011 resolution includes a landfill diversion goal of 70% by 2023.
The county is still looking at ways to achieve diversion goals, as the Kekaha Landfill is reaching capacity. A recent February council meeting, a bill to ban polystyrene was introduced, with an argument that the action would help achieve the county’s diversion goals.
By November 2019, membership in the 501(c)3 was down “to a tired few”, according to newly appointed Zero Waste Kaua‘i president Ruta Jordans. So, those few volunteers decided to reorganize.
ZWK named Jordans as president, Jesse Brown-Clay as Vice President, Harder as member at large, Jed Somit as treasurer and Meghan Ganser as secretary.
Strategy is shifting as well, to include more consulting and educational activities, in addition to still being part of hosting events.
Already in action is a composting program for schools, funded by two grants from County of Kaua‘i.
“(We) loan compost tumblers to schools and teach students the relationship of zero waste and composting to climate change,” Jordans said.
The program teaches kids the process of composting and provides the opportunity for them to continue learning how compost feeds plants in their own school gardens.
Working with other groups, such as Leadership Kaua‘i, Zero Waste Kaua‘i is promoting various aspects of recycling to divert waste from the landfill, as well.
The organization is also focusing on legislation, submitting testimony on bills both in the Hawaii state legislature and at the Kaua‘i County Council.
All for the cause, as Jordans says, for “Kaua‘i to be a zero waste society.”
Source: The Garden Island