Solid waste and climate change

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Ben Sullivan, from left, Jesse Brown-Clay, Allison Fraley and John Harder participate in a panel discussion about climate change and solid waste at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall Wednesday.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Kai Mottley, a Kaua‘i High School student and a volunteer with the National Tropical Botanical Garden, right, facilitates at a table with panelist John Harder, left, Wednesday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Citizens participate in a lively discussion about solid waste and climate change Wednesday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Surfrider Kauai members display a photo of a fish that was caught and had plastic particles in its stomach, Wednesday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e.

LIHU‘E — The National Tropical Botanical Garden presented its first Climate Crisis Forum, “Waste Reduction And Climate Change,” on Wednesday at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall.

Over 100 people attended this event to learn about how they can make a difference, and how to prepare for future changes associated with things like global warming and sea-level rise.

“We want people to realize that change has to happen now,” said NTBG’s CEO and Director Janet Mayfield. “Our planet is in crisis, and we need to make a change now in order for us to leave our legacy to our children.”

A panel discussion included Ben Sullivan, the county’s energy/sustainability coordinator; Jesse Brown-Clay and John Harder with Zero Waste Kaua‘i; and Allison Fraley, the county Department of Public Works Solid Waste Division manager.

Topics included the benefits of a plant-based diet, the amount of solid waste being recycled on Kaua‘i, and the concept of “reduce, reuse and recycle.” The forum also highlighted practical and immediate changes people can make in their own lives.

“I want folks to know the severity of this issue,” Brown-Clay said. “And I hope they learn how to engage with change. We as a group also need to get organized to support our policy-makers, the politicians.”

After the panelists were done with their presentations, they sat down at different tables with Kaua‘i residents in an eight-minute, “speed-dating,” talk-story session.

Most of the participating residents got a chance to speak to each of the panelists.

Every one at the table had concerns or suggestions, and Harder responded to most of them.

“I am here because I am the one that knows the most about solid waste than anyone in the world,” Harder said.

Residents learned about the administration’s recent in-house policy to ban single-use plastic and the current bill being considered by the Kaua‘i County Council to ban most polystyrene food containers from sale and use on Kaua‘i. County Councilmembers Luke Evslin and Mason Chock were there to support the movement.

“We need to divert our solid waste into composition and recycle what we can and make the necessary changes to improve our island and contribute to a solution to climate crisis,” Evslin said.

Participating organizations included the county’s Office of Economic Opportunity and its Aloha+ Challenge and DPW Solid Waste Division; Zero Waste Kaua‘i; Surfrider Foundation; Leadership Kaua‘i; Apollo Kaua‘i and NTBG.


Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or

  1. WestsideResident February 22, 2020 8:10 am Reply

    The more housing built, the more the population will grow on the island. It follows that waste will increase proportionately. Look at Oahu.

    ARU, Guest House, and ADU increase will also invite more people to live here. More roads will be needed. A growing economy will be required to support the desired and needed facilities. More waste.

    Kauaiians need to choose if they’ll allow the Island to develop or not. Development or not, the cost of living will not reduce, affordable housing also will not materialize. Look to Oahu.

    Lastly, those who suggest we can legislate fair weather into existence are disingenuous, the sun determines our climate, and forces far greater than slogans and platitudes are needed to regulate that.

    Support our constitution, fight off Marxist philosophy, and be a responsible parent. Those three endeavors are noble and will direct humanity and Kauai into a more humane and ‘clean’ existence.

  2. Charlie Chimknee February 22, 2020 8:30 am Reply

    Aloha Kakou, many of us would like to see this meeting televised on the Hoike Channel, as well as many other environmental events.
    There is a great need for such things.

  3. Everythingisawesome February 22, 2020 11:14 am Reply

    “I am the one that knows the most about solid waste than anyone in the world”
    Spoken like the person most full of it.

  4. Mailman Mike February 22, 2020 4:29 pm Reply

    The life of the first generation of toxic solar panels will end soon and they will end up in our landfill. The toxic panels are not reusable or recyclable.

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