In 1901 Teddy Roosevelt said, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” At least I thought that was what he said until I researched the quote this morning. As it turns out, the actual words Roosevelt used were “speak softly.”
What does this have to do with today’s post? Well, I was going to paraphrase Roosevelt’s quote a bit and say,
“Tread lightly and carry a big bag.”
Even if Roosevelt didn’t exactly say it, it sums up today’s post rather nicely.
I’ve been to Hawaii several times now. Seven times, to be exact. While I’ve always been aware that every year hundreds of thousands of people choose Hawaii as their vacation destination, I never really thought too much about the implications for the Islands in terms of the environmental impact this created. Last year when we went to Maui, we stopped by a little market to pick up a few things. The people ahead of us bought a bag of chips and a six pack of beer, and the clerk put their items into a large box. Not surprisingly, this amused the customers, but I was surprised at the passionate response by the clerk. She explained that Hawaii was literally being choked to death by all of the plastic bags that ended up in the water and in the landfill.
Those lightweight plastic grocery store bags are now banned, and this year, I saw a real effort by businesses to try to encourage people to reuse paper bags, or use reusable bags. However, I still saw tourists who were toting half a dozen of the heavier plastic boutique bags-one from each shop they had visited-and I cringed. There was a lot more to cringe about too-like the destruction of the coral reefs by too many snorkelers, and water scarcity due to high water usage, and so on.
I don’t want the tone of this post to be dire and depressing, but I realized I wanted to do something. As a tourist myself, I know I make an impact. It can’t be helped. But I want to give something back to the place on earth that I love like no other.
And so, I decided to make my first ever barkcloth reusable shopping bag, and donate the profits to the Nature Conservancy to aid their conservation efforts in Hawaii.
Hawaii has given me so much. Helping protect her is the least I can do.