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 Hawaii 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 Hawaii makes themselves so earth-friendly.
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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.
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!
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.
More details on Hawaii.com.
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.
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.
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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