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  • Kerisa Carmelo

Mālama ‘Āina - Reflecting on a Resolution

Reflection on the Resolution Regarding The Use of Plastic Foam (ie. Styrofoam)

Single use plastic foam products are used throughout the United States in the form of coffee cups and take-out food containers. Plastic foam is a known pollutant, and components of plastic foam are known carcinogens in animals and are suspected carcinogens in humans. Landfills are filling up with plastic, and it takes 500 years for plastics to decompose. Alternatives to plastic foam packaging are readily available.

Therefore, all persons of faith are encouraged to reduce their use of plastic foam.

I was encouraged by this Resolution, remember the phrase, “Plastic or Paper?” In the mid 1980’s while I was working for a large grocery store chain on the Big Island. The plastic bag was introduced to shoppers. It gained popularity by the store owners as being cheaper and stronger than the paper packages for bagging groceries. The customers also preferred the plastic bags than the paper packages for its multiple uses. At least 5000 plastic bags were used on a daily bases in just one store. (We had 5 stores in operation).

After 33 years of seeing the effects of plastic in our island chain, protesters emerged and petitioned the state. The argument was that plastic bags can entangle or choke fish, turtles, birds and other animals that mistake the plastic for food. It contributes to litter, especially because they are easily carried by the wind. They may degrade into unsafe chemicals and single use plastic bags are not consistent with the County’s goal to reduce the quantity of materials going into the landfills.

In 2011 Maui Island was the first to ban full use of these plastic bags. 2013 Hawaii Island followed suit. Last year July 2018 marks the one year anniversary for Oahu Island. The State of Hawai‘i was the first state to initiate a statewide ban on the plastic bag.

While at General Synod 2019, during the introduction of this Resolution, and as testimonies were shared, I stood up and spoke about what Hawai‘i has done in our endeavor to limit the use of plastic, and encouraged the Body to pass the resolution and to follow Hawai‘i’s lead.

Can we do more? Yes, we can start by making better choices and bringing our own recycled bags for shopping, our own mugs and flask for coffee and drink take outs, changing to paper products or biodegradable packaging, etc.

Mālama ‘Āina, Mālama Kai, Mālama Kanaka…

Take care of the Land (It will take care of you) Take care of the Sea (It will take care of you) Take care of the people (They will take care of you)…

Kerisa Carmelo

Association of Hawaiian Evangelical Churches; Lanakila Congregational Church on Hawai‘i Island

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