The Best Ways You May Not Realize Hawai’i is Earth-friendly

Updated July 2, 2021.

In honor of Earth Day, I’m posting about one of the most earth-friendly places in the United States. It also just so happens to be one of my personal favorite locations in all the world: Hawaii! (I know, my faithful readers are all shocked!)

I love that Hawai’i has done so much to protect their delicate environment to keep their islands beautiful for years to come, and they’ve done it in such smart, effective ways. Keep reading for some surprising ways Hawai’i makes themselves so earth-friendly.

They Have Outlawed Sunscreen

Well, not all sunscreen! Just the ones with ingredients that harm coral reefs and other ocean life. As of January 2020, Hawaii banned the sale of sunscreen with harmful ingredients in the state. These ingredients are oyxbenzone and octinoxate, and they are found in most mainstream sunscreen. But now, if you need to buy sunscreen on your Hawaiian vacation, it will be “reef safe.”

And it would also be nice if you brought it with you, too! Click the link below for my picks for the best reef safe sunscreens for travel.

More here: Your Ultimate Guide to Solid Travel Toiletries

Plastic Bags are Not Available

This is a good heads-up for all visitors! Also beginning in 2020, Hawaii banned plastic bags. If you go to a grocery store, convenience store, gift shop, or really anywhere, you won’t be given a plastic bag (and you’ll be charged for a paper one). It’s best to bring your own reusable bag!

Read on: 5 Practical Ways to Travel Sustainably

They Banned all Single-use Plasticware

That means plastic to-go utensils, plastic straws, plastic containers, etc. You’ll still be able to get your food to go and be able to sip your favorite iced or frozen beverage, but you’ll do so with products that are more easily recycled or biodegradable. One bit of caution… Some containers made of cardboard or similar products tend to leak a bit with wetter foods–sauces, fruits, ice cream, acai bowls, shave ice, etc. Plan to eat it quickly, or have some extra napkins handy! Check out a few options below if you’d like to bring your own.

Read next: The Best Food to Eat in Hawaii

Animals are Exceptionally Protected

You’re supposed to stay 50 yards away from dolphins, sea turtles, and monk seals. It is against federal law to feed marine animals in or around Hawaii. People are prohibited from approaching, chasing, surrounding, touching, or swimming with marine life–in other words, don’t be a bother! If animals approach you, that’s okay. Don’t panic! Just enjoy the moment and let them be on their way when they’re done investigating the strange animal that is you. Protecting the animals protects their habitat: Earth.

Animal lovers, rejoice! You can pick up the puppies if their owner says it’s okay!
More details on

You Can’t Bring Produce or Animal Products In

You’ll have to declare all the food you bring into Hawaii on your “plants and animals” declaration form. Yes, even if you’re coming from the U.S. mainland! Hawaii doesn’t have the same bugs or plant diseases as the mainland–a whole ocean away. As such, Hawaii’s plants also don’t have the ability to protect themselves from those things. So if you bring them in, even accidentally, it could be detrimental to the environment.

The fruit on Hawaii tastes better than what you can bring with you from the mainland anyway, so savor it when you get there!
More here from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

You Also Can’t Take the Fruit or Veggies Out

The same goes the other direction, too. You’re not allowed to take Hawaii’s fresh fruits or vegetables back home with you for the same reasons. One notable exception is pineapple! Just make sure they have no bugs, holes, or bruises. Just beware that you will have to have them inspected at the airport, so if there’s anything wrong with them, you won’t be able to bring them with you.

You could also mail a coconut home! Just make sure it’s approved!
Another notable exception: How to Mail a Coconut from Hawaii

What’s your favorite Earth-friendly destination? Comment below!

Want more? Check out all my Hawaii posts on my Hawaiian Islands Page!

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4 responses to “The Best Ways You May Not Realize Hawai’i is Earth-friendly”

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