Maui Recycling Group's Recycling Letters to the Editor

2002 - 2004

In 2002, Camille joined the board of directors of Maui Recycling Group and helped launch a letter writing campaign to raise public awareness about recycling.  Their goal was to educate the public about recycling and related issues by getting their letters printed in at least one of five local newspapers: The Maui News, Haleakala Times, Lahaina News, Maui Time and Maui Weekly. 

Over the course of two and a half years, all but one of the letters made it to print. The unprinted letter was "Easy Way to Reduce Junk Mail."  As far as we could figure, this was because the newspapers depend on advertisers, and advertisers depend on junk mail.

Here are sixty-one letters that Camille was able to find online out of what probably were closer to one hundred.  Thanks to an all-star team of knowledgeable writers, Maui Recycling Group was able to achieve their goal of raising public awareness for the many issues revolving around our waste stream.

During this period of time, it wasn't unusual to hear our own words parroted back to us from people we encountered during the day.  As in, "I started a compost pile to keep my kitchen scraps out of the landfill because I read that biodegradables create methane in the landfill." 

Although these letters were written about Maui County years ago, they are still, for the most part, technically and socially relevant.  It is our hope that some of these letters will inspire you to start digging around.  Where does the plastic in your county go?  Why isn't Waste-to-Energy a good idea?  How do you start a compost pile?

The moral of this story is this - letter writing campaigns do work!  The power of the written word is a wonderful thing to behold.  If you have something to say, get it out there.  Your effort will not be wasted!



(Click on a title to jump to that letter or scroll down to read them all)

AD VENTURES PHONE BOOKS LOOK LIKE LITTER AND LANDFILL - Camille Armantrout (submitted 1/12/03; printed 1/16/03)

ADVANCE DISPOSAL FEE KEEPS GLASS OUT OF LANDFILL - Camille Armantrout (submitted 1/12/03; printed 1/16/03)

ALASKANS HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA ABOUT CARING FOR THE LAND - Pam Wolf (Printed Maui News, August 31, 2004)

BUDGET HEARINGS REPRESENTATION CRUCIAL TO RECYCLING - Camille Armantrout (submitted 1/18/03; printed 1/22/03)

COMPOSTING A GOOD SHORT TERM SOLUTION - Camille Armantrout, July 26, 2004


DON'T OVERLOOK RECYCLING - Rick Woodford, October 18, 2004

DROP BOX CONTAMINATION - Joy Webster (submitted 6/20/02; printed 6/23, 7/11)

EASY WAY TO REDUCE JUNK MAIL - Camille Armantrout (submitted 3/30/03)

EINSTEIN FIGURED OUT WHY MAUI'S LANDFILL IS GROWING INTO A MOUNTAIN - Bob Armantrout (submitted 9/16/02; printed 9/22, 10/3)




FOOD COMPOSTING REDUCES GREENHOUSE GASES - Joy Webster (submitted 8/15/02; printed 8/21/02)

FUTURE MAYOR RAISES HOPES FOR ALTERNATIVE ENERGY - Camille Armantrout (submitted 11/13/02; printed 11/16, 11/29, 12/4, 1/2/03)


IMPROVED PLANNING NEEDED FOR RECYCLING PHONE BOOKS - Joy Webster (submitted 12/7/02; printed 12/11, 1/16/03)



LANDFILL PROBLEMS ENCOURAGE RECYCLING - Tonya Duncan (submitted 9/5/02; printed 9/9, 9/12)

LATEST RECYCLING TASK FORCE COMES TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS AS ITS PREDECESSORS - Joy Webster (submitted 10/19/02; printed 11/6, 11/14, 11/29)



MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT - Tonya Duncan (submitted 10/3/02; printed 10/8, 10/16)

MAUI COUNTY MISSING AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE - Camille Armantrout (submitted 10/25/02; printed 11/7, 11/13, 11/29)

MAUI AND PLASTIC PACKAGING DON'T MIX - Bob Armantrout (submitted 1/5; printed 1/8, 1/15/03)

MAUI'S FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS - Camille Armantrout (submitted 9/28/02; printed 10/2, 11/6, 11/7)


MAUI HAS MANY RECYCLING PROGRAMS - Joy Webster. August 5, 2004



NETWORKING WITH ALOHA SHARES - Joy Webster (submitted 7/18/02; printed 7/21, 8/7)


POLITICAL CANDIDATES SHOULD MAKE OUR ECONOMY STRONG USING RENEWABLE ENERGY - Camille Armantrout (submitted 10/9/02; printed 10/13, 10/31)

POLITICAL SIGNS MAKE A BAD IMPRESSION - Camille Armantrout, September 15, 2004

PRODUCT STEWARDSHIP NEEDED FOR PHONEBOOKS - Joy Webster (submitted 1/18/03; printed 1/22/03)

PUBLISHER DOES THE RIGHT THING - Rick Woodford, September 15, 2004




RECYCLING MEANS USING PRODUCTS - Tonya Duncan (submitted 7/3/02; printed 7/7/02)


REJECTION OF BOTTLE BILL SENDS WRONG MESSAGE - Camille Armantrout (submitted 2/13/03; printed 2/17/03)

REUSING GROCERY BAGS RESULTS IN PEACE OF MIND - Camille Armantrout (submitted 11/29/02; printed 12/7, 1/9/03)


SHIPPING OUR TRASH 2,500 MILES IS NO SOLUTION - Shaun Stenshol (Printed Maui News Aug 13, 2004)


SIGNS DON'T POINT TO ISSUES - Camille Armantrout, October 26, 2004

SMOKING AND INCINERATORS - Camille Armantrout (submitted 9/12/02; printed 10/3, 10/5)



TOURISTS ARE PUT-OFF BY LACK OF RECYCLING ON MAUI - Brenda Pengelly, Victoria, British Columbia

THE TRUTH BEHIND COUNTY PLASTIC RESTRICTIONS - Shaun Stenshol (submitted 1/18/03; printed 1/22/03)


WASTE-TO-ENERGY A WASTE OF ENERGY - Camille Armantrout (submitted 7/10/02; printed 7/17/02)

WEST SIDE NEIGHBORHOOD PITCHES IN TO RECYCLE - Shaun Stenshol (printed 12/23/02)

WHY PLASTIC SHOULD BE AVOIDED - Bob Armantrout (submitted 6/27/02; printed 6/29, 7/4)

WHY I RECYCLE - Camille Armantrout (submitted 6/13/02; printed 6/16/02)

WHY RECYCLE? - Tonya Duncan (submitted 8/2/02; printed 8/6/02)

WORRIED ABOUT THE AMERICAN DREAM - Camille Armantrout (submitted 8/9/02; printed 8/12, 8/22, 9/5)

YOU CAN GIVE NEW LIFE TO OLD ITEMS - Camille Armantrout (submitted 8/30/02; printed 9/13/02)




Every time I drive down Makawao Avenue I see the same phone book lying beside the road. These ubiquitous little books were part of a "creative" marketing blitz by Ad Ventures Publishing. They were delivered to every door they could find in order to penetrate the market.

When people arrived at work or home to find their free phone book lying on or beside their mailbox, they had to decide what to do with it. Some took them inside and found them useful. Others threw them directly into their trash. Many were outraged when they learned that there was no recycling plan by yet another phone book company trying to make a buck on Maui.

I think it is unfair to expect our community to pick up the tab for keeping these books off our roadsides and out of our landfill. A book left lying outside is litter until someone takes responsibility for it. That responsibility belongs to the manufacturer who produced it and distributed it.

Ad Ventures apparently won't come up with a successful recycle plan until the community takes some action and there are dire consequences for not recycling. Make your voice heard by contacting Cindy Sorter at Ad Ventures Publishing, P O Box 270. Blaine, WA 98231, 1-877-561-7772. We don't need any more unsolicited phone books or litter on the roadside.

Camille Armantrout


May 28, 2004

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There is one good reason why Hawaiian landfills are not clogged with glass. It’s called an Advance Disposal Fee (ADF) and it has made glass a winner in Hawaii.

Under the state ADF program, every importer pays a tax on incoming glass containers. The money collected is used to fund the recycling of those glass containers. The recovered glass is crushed and used as road base, for sandblasting, in filtration systems and for paving, as "glassphalt." Most of the glass packaging in Hawaii never reaches the landfill and doesn’t have to be sent back to the mainland for recycling.

The great thing about this program is that it covers ALL glass containers, not just beverage containers. This means that if I buy things like olive oil and applesauce in glass rather than plastic, I can keep those containers out of the landfill.

There are plans to do the same with plastic and aluminum beverage containers. In October of this year, the Hawaii Bottle Bill will require importers of beverage containers to pay an advance fee for their proper disposal.

I wondered if implementation of the Bottle Bill would jeopardize the recycling of food containers. I went to and was happy to find that the ADF will continue to cover non-beverage containers.

Maybe one day there will be an ADF on non-beverage plastic and aluminum containers. Until then, I buy food packaged in glass containers, knowing that those containers will not end up in the local landfill.

Camille Armantrout

January 16, 2003

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I lived in a small town near Juneau, Alaska, for 10 years and had never heard of shipping garbage to Washington until now. Virtually all Alaskans believe that the land is very precious and realize that we are responsible for whatever we bring into it.

Before anything was accepted into the landfill in my town, we recycled and composted as much as possible. Everyone was highly discouraged from bringing nonrecyclable items like plastic bags and Styrofoam to the landfills. People paid by the amount of garbage they brought in. Anyone misusing the service was staked out and left for the bears. Well, maybe not literally, but we felt very strongly about bringing trash to our land.

Tin food cans, aluminum, cardboard, Nos. 1 and 2 plastics, cardboard, plus other metals; roofing, old bikes, even cars were stockpiled and shipped to the Mainland for recycling. All of these items were first made available for everyone to reuse. I have a roof on my house in Alaska because of this practice.

What is it about Maui that we love? Certainly it’s not the plastic bags at the stores. Our county and state officials have the power to ban items from getting here in the first place and seeing to it that what does get here actually gets recycled.

We can’t just ship problems away. We must do our best to prevent them from being here in the first place.

Pam Wolf


Printed Maui News, August 31, 2004

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The latest Maui County Recycling Industry meeting pointed out how desperately Maui needs a Material Recovery Facility (MRF, pronounced Murf.) Representatives from Maui County addressed recycling issues January 17 with individuals from the local recycling processors, composting companies and haulers.

The agenda included plastics, cardboard, greenwaste, foodwaste, commercial construction and development waste. As each issue was addressed, the group quickly reached the same conclusion; no progress would be made until there is a MRF to handle the materials. No amount of bans or mandates would keep these materials out of the landfill until there is a facility to handle them.

Although the latest recycling task force study from October of 2002 recommended the construction of a County-run MRF above all other actions, little progress has been made due to budget constraints.

If you are concerned about the 18 months worth of plastic degrading in the sun at the Maui Central Baseyard, and about all the other material you have been faithfully hauling to the county dropboxes, please come to the County budget hearings this spring. Budget funding for a facility will not happen unless enough people show they care. To find our more about the budget hearings, call Camille, Committee Secretary of the Budget and Finance Committee at 270-8007, email them at or call Adelle at the Mayor’s office at 270-7855.

Camille Armantrout

January 22, 2003

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In response to recent letters (July 21 and July 24) regarding shipping trash and consolidating landfills, there is a better short-term solution to Hawaii's garbage problem than shipping it to the mainland. By banning all paper and organic material from our landfills we would cut our landfill needs in half. These categories include kitchen scraps, grass clippings, large yard waste, cardboard, office paper and junk mail.

We have the technology and the processors right here for turning these materials into compost. Meanwhile, we continue to landfill them while importing compost from the mainland. Materials that can be composted eventually break down inside landfills, creating methane and adding to the cost of maintaining the site. For more on this proposal, check out the 2002 Maui County Recycling Task Force Recommendations online at

On the surface it may not seem like a big deal to ship garbage across county or even state lines. However, as a Hawaii resident, I would vehemently oppose a program to accept out of state garbage in our landfills. I suspect most of my neighbors would also oppose it regardless of all the good reasons there might be for doing so.

Finally, we are not talking about simply taking advantage of a regional mega-dump in this case. The nearest neighbor state well over 2,000 miles from here. The cost to ship garbage across the Pacific is exorbitant compared to trucking it into the next county. I keep dreaming of the day we come to our senses and use local dollars to implement local solutions.

Camille Armantrout

July 26, 2004

In response to:

Maui News 7/24/04

The next step in reducing landfill dependency would be to implement a Pay-As-You-Throw program, thereby creating an incentive and a budget to support diversion of all recyclables. This was strongly recommended by the previous Maui County Recycling Task Force.

Consolidating landfills a trend across the nation

I fail to see the point of the July 10 letter about Mike Gabbard's idea to ship our garbage to the Mainland. It seems perfectly reasonable for our small island to look for creative ways to dispose of our waste.

The EPA has made it clear that states and counties should be moving to mega-dumps to landfill our solid waste. Gone are the days when each county had its own landfill. Now some states such as Washington have been able to close the majority of their landfills and replace them with one or two regional ones. This is good for the environment and easier to manage in the case of problems with leakage, etc.

Chris Tanabe



Maui News 7/21/04

Shipping trash an attempt to buy time for better solution

Let me respond to letters by both those who support my proposal to "ship out" our garbage to the Mainland and those who oppose my idea.

I do not see the "ship it out" plan as a long-term solution to our garbage problem. It is a short-term solution only. This time will allow us to develop an environmentally friendly long-term solution.

Unfortunately, however, at present there are no environmentally friendly long-term solutions which are financially feasible or which our consumerist society is willing to accept. So what are we going to do with our garbage now and for the next five to 15 years?

On Oahu, developers and their powerful allies in the Legislature and on the City Council were about to create a landfill over the Pearl Harbor aquifer which would eventually contaminate forever the drinking and bathing water for 70 percent of Oahu's residents from Waianae to Hawaii Kai. I was successful in passing a resolution establishing an islandwide policy that landfills not be built over aquifers on Oahu. I have communicated with mayors and council members on Maui and other islands about the need to take a similar step.

We need to work together to solve this problem. If any of my fellow environmentalists have a better short-term solution than "ship it out," I would very much like to hear their proposal. I just want to solve the problem.

Mike Gabbard


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Many of us are still trying to catch up financially after suffering from a bout of holiday-induced Affluenza. First came Thanksgiving, then Christmas, New Years and Valentine's Day. Americans work longer hours than any other people in the world to pay for this good life. It seems as if we have forgotten that the best things in life are free.

If we spent more time at home enjoying the people we love, we would feel less need to throw money at the holidays. Many of us compensate for that loss of time by eating out, buying new cars, going on vacation and so on. Sadly, we must work even longer hours away from home to pay for these things.

With Easter Sunday 7 weeks away, this is the good time to take stock of what drives us to consume so much. Perhaps it is the media, which tells us that we can buy happiness. Maybe it's the pleas from our government, which tell us that spending money is patriotic.

The cure for Affluenza, that all-consuming need to spend money, is simple. Stop trading so much time for money and use that extra time to seek out the priceless. Imagine the pleasure in spending more time with our family and friends, talking story, going for walks, watching the birds and stopping to smell the flowers along the way.

Camille Armantrout

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For all the ‘feel good’ rhetoric that David Cole and Maui Land & Pineapple and Kapalua Land Company put into the very expensive, glossy insert in the Maui News, wouldn’t it have been much more appropriate and beneficial to our Island to at least print on recycled/recyclable paper with biodegradable ink. What’s up?

I also couldn’t find a recycling center in the plans for the new community…

Let’s try to keep recycling in mind when we are in community planning mode. Builders too should be required to do their part.

Rick Woodford

President, Maui Recycling Group


October 18, 2004

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Several times recently, I've heard the comment that it's a waste of time to recycle on Maui using the community dropboxes because "they're just hauled to the dump."

Unfortunately it is true that sometimes - but very rarely - a residential recycling dropbox must be taken to the dump for disposal. The reason has nothing to do with the company hauling and maintaining the dropboxes. It has to do with ignorant people in the community who take advantage of the availability of the drop-off locations and use the dropboxes for their own household garbage. When my home composting demo area was located next to the Upcountry dropbox site, I saw first-hand old car engines, car and marine batteries, and bags of household garbage stuffed into the bins. One of the worst cases was the carcass of a deer in the plastics bin.

The haulers are required to look into the bins and if they see something suspicious, smelly, disgusting or otherwise not what should be in there, they must take the entire load to the dump. At first it seems like such a waste, 'someone' could simply remove a bag of garbage, right? Well, consider what happened at the private, for-profit company that does the plastic processing. Their employee started sorting the load of plastic dumped on the loading dock. He saw a big black plastic bag and, thinking it was full of plastic bottles, opened it up to discover - a dead dog! From then on, the recyclers were not required to accept loads with obvious contamination; they found they couldn't pay people enough to sort out the really disgusting garbage from the usable plastic items.

Thanks to the untiring efforts of people at Community Work Day, the County of Maui Recycling Office, the trash haulers who offer recycling, our one and only curbside recycler - Maui Recycling Service, responsible residents and businesses, and my own organization, we have a 30-plus percent recycling rate on Maui. It's never a 'waste of time' to do the right thing but it wastes all our time when irresponsible people do the wrong thing.

Joy Webster

June 23, 2002

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Every business day, thousands of pieces of junk mail arrive on Maui to be tucked into our mail boxes. Most of this unwanted and unread paper ends up in our landfill. If you want to reduce the amount of junk mail hitting your mailbox, simply send a letter to the Mail Preference Service listing the addresses you see on your junk mail. I keep the following letter in my files:

Mail Preference Service

Direct Marketing Association

P.O. Box 9008

Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008

Dear Sirs:

I understand that the MPS is designed to assist consumers who would like to receive less advertising mail at home. Please register the following name(s) and address(es) with the name removal file so they will be removed from unsolicited mailing lists. Thank you very much.



Every time we order something by mail, we end up on a mailing list, so it’s best to send this letter several times a year. When I get a new catalog, I rip off the address and keep it in a folder until my junk mail begins to build up again. Then I take the addresses and type them into a copy of this letter and mail it. It costs me about $1 a year in postage to keep my mailbox relatively clear of junk mail.

For more information on reducing junk mail, check out "How to Get Less Junk Mail" at:

Camille Armantrout

March 30, 2003

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Thank-you Notal Einstein, for your outstanding letter. You put the reason why most people on Maui don’t take recycling seriously into plain English. Good behavior is penalized while bad behavior is rewarded. There is no incentive to conserve landfill space because of our incredibly low trash hauling rates.

If a family in San Francisco chooses to put out 6 cans of trash a week it will cost them over $1,000 a year. Their recyclables and kitchen scraps/yard wastes are hauled away for free. This program, called Pay as You Throw works by charging unit pricing for garbage, just like we do for water and electricity. Extra revenue from garbage collection fees fund free removal of recoverable resources.

It’s a shame that those of us who recycle on Maui are penalized by higher trash rates. You are paying $1.38 for your 32-gallon can of trash while your neighbors, who maximize their service pay only 23 cents per can.

To show our appreciation for your efforts, Maui Recycling Service would like to offer you three months of free curbside recycling pick up. Please contact us at 244-0443 for details.

Until the county begins rewarding good behavior by implementing unit pricing for trash while providing free curbside pickup, we can expect Pu’u Opala to keep growing.

Bob Armantrout

September 16, 2002

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In reference to The Maui News front-page article "Report raises concerns about co-composting contractor" (Oct. 15): Ending an article about EKO Compost with a quotation from Charles Davidson is like ending an article about California's social programs with a quotation from Rush Limbaugh. You'll get an honest opinion - by definition, neither right nor wrong - but definitely just an opinion.

In an article that clearly states there is no evidence the compost is hazardous, finishing with worrisome phrases like, "so-called compost" and "leap of faith" is unfair to your readers, to EKO, and to thousands of us who have used this product successfully and without problem for years.

Joy Webster


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It is good to question everything that goes on around us, but the hype that is going on regarding the compost at Maui EKO is plain silly.

Doing research on composting, I found that this type of compost has been made all over the United States for decades. Sewage sludge compost is a highly tested product which has to follow strict guidelines, and if not done properly, yes it can create problems. But according to what I read in the paper, Maui EKO has been doing everything properly and has not been found to have any problems associated with it.

We coat our foods with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. We are tinkering with, the genetics in what we eat. We use hundreds of poisons in our homes every day.

We let our kids play on pristine lawns that had poisons sprayed on them for weeds. We fill our cars with gasoline that is known to pollute the air we breathe while we stand by letting its toxins fill our lung. We know, without a doubt, that these things are bad for us, yet most people disregard them anyway.

Yes, the future might find that sewage sludge compost causes "tallness" just like eating bananas might make "your hair yellow," but right now, today, you don't need to worry that the soil under the grass in the park your kid plays in used compost that was made with some doo-doo.

Pam Wolf


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A July 6th letter writer states that Mike Gabbard's proposal of shipping our garbage to other communities "has the potential of freeing Hawaii from its dependence on landfills."

You mean, it increases our dependence on Mainland landfills, right?

Is this the aloha we want to share with the world, our garbage? Is the writer not aware of efforts in many states, most notably Michigan and Pennsylvania to stop taking other's trash? Does the fact that "Alaska does it" really warrant our behavior? I think not.

Shipping our trash to others is an insult to their humanity, and as such, immoral. Are we willing to take other’s garbage if it makes economic sense in their state to send it here? Does your landfill operator speak for you and your children?

Bob Armantrout

July,6 2004


In reply to:

Shipping trash a proven idea that could benefit islands

Like the writer of a June 27 letter, I read congressional candidate Mike Gabbard's proposal to ship Hawaii's trash to remote, environmentally friendly landfills on the Mainland (Viewpoint, June 20). Unlike the writer, I didn't laugh.

I applaud his thinking "outside the box" and coming up with a creative solution to a serious problem, especially in Hawaii where landfills put our underground drinking water at risk.

The June 27 writer failed to appreciate the fact that Gabbard thoroughly researched his "ship it out" proposal. At his own expense, Gabbard traveled to landfills on the West Coast to see for himself that the landfills there do not jeopardize underground water. Nor did she note that the state of Alaska ships its trash to a huge, isolated landfill in the desert in eastern Washington state.

It's preposterous to call shipping our trash off-island "immoral." The proposal has the potential of freeing Hawaii from its dependence on landfills.

Ku'ulei Kapono


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To the proven benefits of composting, we can add one more: reduction of greenhouse gases which many people believe contribute to global warming.

According to the November, 2000, issue of Resource Recycling, "If the 21.5 million tons of food residuals generated annually were composted instead of being sent to landfills, this would result in a reduction of about three million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to taking more than two million cars off the road."

Composting is easy to do and is problem-free when done right. Compost creates rich soil and stronger plants, using free and available resources. It reduces environmental damage such as erosion, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides and increases the life of necessary landfills.

If you’re composting your food waste, yard trimmings and waste paper at home, thank you. If you’re still sending all that stuff to the dump, please consider doing the right thing and look into the many simple, inexpensive ways to set up home composting.

Joy Webster

August 21, 2002

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While reviewing Alan Arakawa’s pre-election campaign promises (Maui News 11/4/02,) I was heartened to see that he supports exploration of alternative energy and the creation of a recycling facility on Maui. This makes me very hopeful.

Maui is in a unique position to create a model of environmental and economic sustainability. We don’t have to wait until we run out of fossil fuel before becoming energy self-sufficient. We can begin planning our future today.

I dream that we’ll use the abundant sun and wind to power our beautiful island as opposed to shipping 7 million barrels per year of non-renewable foreign oil across the Pacific. In my dream, we’ll consume less, waste less and have more time to enjoy our lives.

I’m aware of the diverse group of people who share my dream. I see them backing away from a lifestyle fueled by nearly 60 barrels of oil per person each year. Many of us wish to wean Maui from dependency on the mainland. Others feel our current level of energy consumption is obscene when compared with the world average of only 9.5 barrels per person per year. Some are trying to recapture the simplicity of a bygone era.

All who dream of environmental sustainability look forward to Alan Arakawa’s plan with hope that it will help steer us away from dependency on fossil fuel and promote legislation to encourage the use of renewable energy.

Camille Armantrout

November 16, 2002

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On a recent trip to Big Beach, I noticed a new plastic picnic table. Thinking this might have been made locally from recycled milk jugs, I had a closer look. Imagine my surprise when I found that the table had come all the way from Cherokee, Iowa.

When I got home, I went to on my computer and

found that this bench was manufactured from recycled plastic. Curious, I called up our local recycled plastic processor, Aloha Plastic Recycling, and asked them why one of their benches wasn't sitting down at Makena State Park.

They told me that the local contractor for the Makena project had originally approached them for a quotation on a similar picnic table even though the State bid specifically called for a Pilot Rock table. The contractor felt that he would be able to persuade the State to use a local table rather than have one shipped in from the mainland.

Aloha Plastic put together a quotation for the contractor and while they were at it, they got a quotation from Pilot Rock. The Pilot Rock table, with shipping was more expensive than the Aloha table. Despite these efforts, the State went ahead and bought the imported table in the end.

My questions are: 1) Why would the State want to pay more for an imported table? And 2) How can the State of Hawaii say it supports recycling when they are importing recycled plastic furniture?

Bob Armantrout


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Now that Maui is blessed with four phone books - Verizon, the Big Book, the AdVentures Publishing directory, and the tiny-but-invaluable Maui Register - it's time we were also blessed with a coordinated recycling campaign to dispose of the old phone books as they're replaced.

Thanks to Verizon and the publishers of the Big Book, last-minute recycling plans were coordinated to handle tens of thousands of outdated books. However, by the time the plans were publicly announced, the new books were delivered and too many of the old ones ended up in the landfill.

In future, publishers of phone directories are asked to prepare and publicize their recycling plans before - not after - distribution of their new books.

Joy Webster

December 11, 2002

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Thanks to the diligent efforts of many, more Maui plastic is making its way towards the Kealia Boardwalk. Aloha Plastic Recycling has received nearly three times the Maui plastic this year that they had received by this time last year. Aloha is the Maui Company that turns recycled HDPE (High Density Polyethylene, or #2) into plastic lumber and furniture.

The increase is due to the efforts of the County of Maui Recycling Section, Maui Disposal and concerned citizens. I am particularly impressed with the schoolteachers from Maui High School who collect milk jugs from their students and drive them to Aloha Plastic themselves. The plastic Aloha will be using to manufacture the boardwalk includes all non-colored bottles and jugs with necks marked with a number 2. This is the opaque kind of plastic found in gallon milk jugs.

There is probably enough recyclable HDPE on Maui with which to manufacture the lumber for the boardwalk, however getting it to the processor has been a problem in the past. It will take about 1 ½ million gallon jugs to build the boardwalk, 21,900 of which have come from Maui recyclers so far this year. I'm encouraged to see this increase and hope that it lowers the likelihood of having to import post-consumer HDPE from Oahu and the mainland.

To support this project, take your natural, opaque HDPE (#2) containers with necks to the county drop boxes or to Aloha Plastic Recycling at 75 Amala Place. Don't forget to give them a rinse, throw away the lids and crush them.

Camille Armantrout


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Thank you, to all the people out there who are recycling! There are a lot of you who actually do show you care about the future of Maui and the planet!

It is amazing, though, that more people don't. Have you ever really thought about what happens to what is thrown in the garbage can? Is it just "out of sight, out of mind"? Since we still have "lots of room" at the landfill, should we just push the concern aside, for our kids to deal with later on, because it will still be there for their kids and their kids' kids, etc.

Yes it, takes a little more effort to separate items, but those few extra seconds are worth it.

The county has recycle drop bins in several places and there is even curbside pickup through Maui Recycling Service, making recycling very convenient for virtually everyone. Maui Recycling Service even recycles other items that are excluded from the county drop bins such as tin/steel food cans which should be kept out of the landfill, yet a lot of people aren't aware of the option.

You do have a choice! Buy items that can be recycled then recycle them!

This is an island, after all. Or haven't you noticed?

Pam Wolf


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Oahu’s serious landfill problems are exposed in the news recently. Since Maui is following Oahu in over development and increased tourism, we can expect increased landfill problems in the future as well.

So why are we following Oahu’s example and purchasing new refuse trucks and providing residents with extremely large free trash bins? We are only encouraging future landfill problems with convenient trash pickups.

It seems more logical for Maui County to invest our tax dollars in convenient curbside recycling. By providing free recycling bins and pickup service to each household, more recyclable items will be diverted from the landfill, thus prolonging the life and future problems of landfill space.

Maui should model other successful recycling states and consider a "pay as you throw" system where each bag of trash is charged individually. In some states, you have to purchase pre-paid trash bag tags. Bags with out tags are not picked up.

For this election year, encourage your lawmakers and government agencies to do what is best for Maui¹s landfill future. Make trash pickups expensive and provide free curbside recycling, then we will see increased recycling on Maui.

Tonya Duncan

September 9, 2002

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Bad planning and lack of initiative on the part of government and community leaders resulted in a recent decision to allow Oahu's one and only landfill to increase in height by 30 feet, a measure that gives Oahu just eight more months of landfill space. And then what? Add acreage to the landfill? Nearby residents and businesses are loudly opposed to that plan. Send more stuff to H-Power for incineration? Not all trash can be burned, not all trash should be burned, and no incineration method is completely 'clean.'

Maui will soon face a similar situation unless we address this topic now and make wise decisions that are both environmentally friendly, and economically feasible. Three task forces have studied this problem during the last 13 years. All three were made up of government leaders, business people, visitor industry representatives, waste industry people, and individual residents. All three came to the same conclusions:

1. Anything that can be recycled, composted, or reused on Maui must be recycled, composted, or reused on Maui, and not buried in the landfill.

2. Recycling must be rewarded; throwing stuff in the landfill must not. It's based on 'equitable user fees', and is called Pay-As-You-Throw.

3. The people of Maui must have the option of taking good, clean, usable material to a central facility where it can be off-loaded, sorted, and made available to nonprofit agencies, schools, and churches and the community at large.

4. A materials recovery facility (MRF) is essential for the efficient hauling, sorting, and distribution of recyclable materials.

Implementing these recommendations may involve several lifestyle adjustments for the individual:

- Universal trash pick-up: If you live on an existing County of Maui trash pick-up route, you will subscribe to the service instead of hauling and dumping your own trash.

- Curbside recycling pick-up available to all residents.

- Compliance with existing "Litter Laws." Illegal dumpers will be prosecuted.

- Use of recycled material in all government construction jobs where it is economically feasible.

- Restrictions on landfilling any material that can be recycled on-island, including greeenwaste, yard trimmings, food waste, paper, and cardboard - all of which can be composted - as well as certain plastic containers, glass, and aluminum.

As a community addressing these issues, we may also reasonably expect the following from our County government and environmental agencies:

- Comprehensive waste management plans for used electronics such as computer components, batteries, televisions, cell phones, and outdated video equipment.

- Comprehensive public education plan for schools, businesses and community groups emphasizing the successful recycling programs that already exist in Maui County, and uses of recycled material.

- Incentives for, and encouragement of entrepreneurs with a good idea and a workable business plan, whether it be commercial worm composting, insulation from waste paper, or the collection and shipping of toner cartridges.

None of these recommendations are new; all of them were developed and refined over decades in many communities on the Mainland, Europe, and Canada. We don't have to invent or re-invent anything. What we do need is good planning and initiative on the part of our elected representatives and our community. Oahu is providing us with a wonderful example of what happens when we ignore the inevitable and fail to seize opportunities to do the right thing, the right way.

Joy Webster

November 6, 2002

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As I bit into a locally made cookie after dinner the other night, I congratulated myself on the "localness" of that meal. My husband and I had just eaten soy chicken sandwiches on bread from our oven with greens from our garden and avocado and sweet corn from the farmer's market.

I felt this was pretty good considering that, in Hawaii, the average food item travels at least 2400 miles (the distance between Honolulu and San Francisco) before reaching our local grocery stores.

However, even though my husband and I had put some thought into bringing local food to our table on this particular evening, much of our meal was well-traveled. The soy patties, for example, had shipped over 4000 miles from Madison, Wisconsin. In addition, we used butter from Seattle, chili sauce from Thailand, flour from Minneapolis and mayonnaise from New Jersey.

The bottom line is: I can do better. I want to reduce the barrels of oil it takes to bring me my dinner. Further, I'd like to see more of my dollars make it into our community. I'd rather know that my hard-earned cash is lining my neighbor's pockets than the pockets of the big box stores, oil companies and advertising firms.

Camille Armantrout


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The Maui News Feb. 8 editorial, “Recycler can’t rely on Maui,” hit the nail right on the head. As was determined by the Recycling Task Force commissioned by the mayor’s office in January 2002, a material recovery facility (infrastructure) must be built for real progress to be made in recycling.

That is not to say that there haven’t been success stories in Maui’s recycling history. There have been several; Aloha Shares Network is one example. However, for a business to produce a product from recovered materials, the basic ingredients have to be readily available. A material recovery facility (MRF) can facilitate that supply. For the best possible market prices on commodities that cannot be utilized on island, good sorting is necessary — such as a material recovery facility can accomplish.

A MRF is an economic enhancement for enterprises that use recycled materials (urban ore) as well as creating revenue from commodities that are shipped off island. To read the report of the Recycling Task Force, go on the Internet to and read the findings of this group. If you agree, call your council members and mayor and let them know you feel that it is important that a material recovery facility be built to handle Maui’s current and future needs in recycling. Budget decisions will be finalized very soon.

Let’s work on this and make it happen for Maui this year.

Lee Guthrie

February 9, 2003

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It is difficult to figure out who to vote for sometimes. Now the Internet is making it much easier. This year, I went to and found out my district number by entering my address. I found a copy of the ballot for my district with all the names the candidates. Then I found the candidates’ profiles on the online voters guide with contact numbers and e-mail addresses.

The Office of Elections is also very helpful. Its phone number (808) 442-8683 can be found in the Hawaii State Government section of your phone book, and it offers personal assistance in guiding voters to information about candidates.

There is one month left until voting time. It is much easier now to find out who the candidates are and contact them in advance with questions.

I know I will be e-mailing the candidates on my ballot to check their priorities and proposals for improving recycling efforts to protect the environment for future generations.

Do a little research and make your vote count!

Tonya Duncan

October 8, 2002

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Maui County needs a MRF. What’s a murf? That’s the acronym for Material Recovery Facility, something Maui is sorely in need of. Communities that are concerned with recycling consider MRFs to be an essential service, like running water, electricity and landfills. MRFs are where materials are taken, sorted and processed for reuse. They extend the landfill and allow for resource recovery.

74% of the garbage on Maui is commercial and 26% is residential. While the county provides a facility for recycling residential waste, they do not provide for commercial waste.

The business sector currently sends its recyclable materials to a handful of processors who are willing to risk equipment failures and fluctuations in the market value of those materials to provide this service. When the process breaks down, the haulers arrange for storage and go searching for someone who will take the material and reuse it.

Imagine if the landfill suddenly closed its gates. Where would all the garbage go? Would the haulers just stop picking it up?

Maui County can’t have it both ways. They can’t say they support recycling until they provide a reliable facility for everyone. We have a choice. We can put our tax dollars into more landfills or worse, an incinerator or we can put them into a resource recovery facility. I think the choice is clear. I want my tax dollars to fund a MRF.

Camille Armantrout

November 7, 2002

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Plastic doesn't recycle on Maui. In fact, Maui's plastic doesn't recycle on the mainland, either. No market has been found for the plastic collected by Maui County's Recycling Dropbox program during the last eighteen months. It simply costs more to sort, bale and ship the plastic than processors on the mainland are willing to pay.

If you want to see how much of this homeless recycling exists in our midst, look east from the Mokulele Highway at the Central Maui Baseyard next time you're out that way. You'll see mounds of baled plastic that will soon be visible from the summit of Haleakala; much like the Great Wall of China is from orbit.

The only exception to this is a very small number of hand collected and manually processed plastic milk jugs and laundry bottles that Tom Reed of Aloha Plastics is willing to take. Tom makes plastic lumber products at his facility over by the Kahului harbor.

Maui's plastic dilemma is not exclusive. Plastic recycling on the Mainland is spotty - at best. Most municipalities don't collect plastic, and most of plastic collected doesn't make its way back into other products. The primary reason that no markets exist for recycled plastic is that the major producers of plastic packaging are not using post-consumer plastic in their bottles. Not Coke - not Pepsi.

The best thing we as individuals can do is stop buying single use plastic packaging. If we want to continue using and discarding plastic bottles, then we need to subsidize the construction and operation of a material recovery facility (MRF) with our tax dollars. Private industry will not enter this market unless there is profit to be made.

Let's take responsibility for our consumption and police ourselves. After all, if not us, who?

Bob Armantrout

January 8, 2003

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There are all kinds of ways to deal with garbage. We can bury it, burn it, compost it, recycle it, or reduce it. Each one of us chooses the method we feel is right. It's a personal decision.

My husband and I recently chose to recycle and compost as much as we can of the 150 pounds of trash we generate a month. We recycle 80 pounds, compost 65, and landfill 5. It takes less than 10 minutes a day to accomplish this.

The majority of residents on Maui Choose to bury their trash. Maui sends approximately 384 tons of garbage a day to its central landfill in Pu'unene.

Oahu has a bigger problem. The majority of their residents also choose to "throw away" all of their trash. They generate 4,303 tons per day, 1,319 of which are recycled. The remaining 2,659 tons is split between the landfill and H-Power, their incinerator.

H-Power was built to take the pressure off Oahu's landfills. Garbage tipping fees doubled to cover the cost of the plant. In return, H-Power supplies 7% of the island's energy needs. Unfortunately, it also destroys resources and produces dioxin and other toxins.

Resources that we bury and/or burn are gone forever. Recycling gives those resources another chance while saving energy. Composting saves landfill space and adds nutrients to our soil. It’s up to each and every one of us which way we want to go. We can follow in Oahu’s footsteps or begin changing our habits now.

Camille Armantrout

October 2, 2002

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Rob McLennan asks good questions about Maui's recycling programs, and apparent lack of same. He first asks why we (the residents of Maui) don't recycle. Well, the answer is that we do recycle, at least to some extent and more than any other county in Hawaii. Latest County figures show that 34% of our waste stream is diverted to recycling programs, including aluminum, glass, plastic bottles and bags, newspaper, cardboard, organic waste, some types of paper, wood, and food waste. A total of 82,000-plus tons of so-called garbage is recycled, reused or composted annually on Maui.

Rob also asks why resorts don't collect cans, bottles, and newspapers for the purpose of recycling. Again, the answer is that many resorts do just that. Employees in large hotels, such as the Fairmont Kea Lani, the Whaler on Kaanapali Beach, and others, manage programs to heighten awareness of recycling opportunities and encourage visitors and residents to take part.

The answer to his third question - why offices don't separate and collect paper for recycling - is more complicated. Because we are an island 2,000 miles from large markets, the cost of collecting, sorting, storing, and hipping a commodity such as office paper is often prohibitive. And when the market price drops considerably, as it has in recent months, the whole effort becomes too costly. One solution would be to have a use for the paper on-island, and several entrepreneurs are working on the problem. One such person, Robert Bell of Maui Earthkeepers Earthworm Farms, is actively feeding shredded paper to his compost worms in Kihei, hoping to come up with the perfect diet and the perfect answer to this question. By the way, many hotels, offices, and residents do separate their paper for collection by Maui Recycling Service, a private company that has gone out of its way to respond to Maui's waste paper flood.

A fourth question asks why malls don't collect cans and bottles. First, there is the problem of storage space. As you know, the price of land on Maui is sky-high and still going up. Space in a shopping center is rare and valuable, not to be taken up by bins of used beverage containers. Individual restaurants within shopping centers, such as Koho Grill & Bar at Queen Kaahumanu Center, have their own glass collection programs, washing and storing bottles to be deposited in the Center's big recycling bins. Another problem is the matter of vector control. Unlike Ontario, where at least part of the year it's too cold for bugs and vermin, here on Maui we battle them year-round. A large collection of used soda cans and bottles, unless thoroughly washed, could turn your favorite shopping center into a

roach resort. There is light at the end of this tunnel though: the State everage Container Redemption Program (aka the bottle Bill) starts January 1, 2005. It's the familiar 'deposit' system, where you get money back for every bottle or can returned. The State and County are working on the logistics now.

And finally, you ask why restaurants are still using styrofoam for take-out orders? You're right - styrofoam is not a wise environmental choice. It cannot be recycled easily, isn't collected for recycling, lives for eons in landfills, and is bad for our marine life. Fortunately, there are alternatives and McDonald's has led the way with their recyclable cardboard take-out boxes. Hopefully, others will follow their lead.

Thank you for your insightful questions, Rob. As you can see there are no quick answers but it is important for you and other visitors to know that people here are aware of the issues and are working hard on solutions to our recycling problems. You can find even more answers on the County website <>, on the Maui Recycling Group website <>, or in the next Recycling Guide coming January 23.

Joy Webster


The Recycling Guide

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The writer said he "was amazed that Maui did not recycle." I'm amazed that, in two years living on Maui, he hasn't heard of Aloha Glass Recycling, Aloha Plastic Recycling, Joy of Worms, Maui Earth Compost, Maui Earthkeepers Earthworm Farms, Hawaii Tire Disposing, Maui Scrap Metal, Pacific Biodiesel, Pua'a Foodwaste Service, Reynolds Aluminum, and Unitek Solvent Services - all local companies that have been recycling on Maui for far longer than two years.

Maybe he was referring to the lack of curbside recycling on Maui. That service, too, has been offered by Maui Recycling Service for years.

He commented that another Maui company (EKO Compost) composts greenwaste "but it is mixing the compost with sewage sludge, which I believe is detrimental to the environment." The State of Hawaii Dept. of Health and the EPA disagree with you: Ongoing daily tests of air, water, and leachate from the EKO windrows, show that amount of harmful substances are far less than the national health limits. It's good stuff. He also fails to mention another Maui business, Maui Earth Compost, that also produces a completely organic product from greenwaste. Tim Gunter has been in business in Puunene for years and recently got a permit to operate a second site in Kihei.

To educate himself on the many successful recycling programs that have been introduced to Maui County during the past 15 years, the writer may want to check out or pick up the latest copy of The Recycling Guide, now in its 13th edition.

Joy Webster

Editor, The Recycling Guide


August 5, 2004

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An Aug. 4 letter began, "I moved here two years ago and was amazed that Maui did not recycle." Maui does recycle, a bit more than one-third of all waste tonnage generated. Sure it should be more, but all of us who recycle on Maui, and particularly those whose jobs and businesses exist due to recycling, are very aware of the efforts that save these recyclables from being dumped into our landfill.

The writer also maligns the fact that sewage sludge is being mixed with compost. This is how we recycle the 20,000 tons of sewage sludge produced on our island each year, and keep it out of the landfill. If anyone has a better way of recycling these biosolids, I'm sure there are interested parties.

One of the three major recommendations from our 2002 Report of the Recycling Task Force was to "divert all green waste from the landfill . . . assist local companies in opening/expanding composting facilities . . . and modify the automated residential refuse collection to include separated green waste collection."

The task force estimated that if all green waste were eliminated from the landfill (i.e., via composting), overall recycling on Maui would increase to about 55 percent of all waste tonnage generated. We may create more green waste per capita than anywhere in the world; it is imperative that it not be buried in our limited landfill.

Bruce Erfer


Printed Maui News August 9, 2004

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I was pleased to read that the National Beverage Container Producer Responsibility Act of 2003 (or National Bottle Bill) was introduced on America Recycles Day, November 15th. Hawaii’s own Senator Daniel Akaka, one of the original cosponsors, joined Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont in introducing this legislation.

Should this legislation become law, we will see a huge decrease in wasted beverage containers. In the US, less than half of the aluminum cans are recycled. This represents more than 750,000 tons of re-useable aluminum annually or enough aluminum to build 33,000 Boeing Jets!

“Manufacturer’s Responsibility Laws” are being used in other countries to reduce waste and recover resources. They force the producers to create a recycling plan for their products and/or packaging before releasing it for sale to consumers.

This is the kind of legislation we need more of in this country. In the meantime, we can continue to take advantage of Maui County’s recycling drop boxes for aluminum, plastic and glass and the ‘cash for aluminum cans’ programs at Aloha Recycling, Maui Scrap Metal and Reynold’s Aluminum.

You can read more about recycling and bottle bills at:

Camille Armantrout


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My husband and I were camping in the crater a couple of weeks ago when we got into a conversation with a young man who was also camping with his family. He was a pastor at a church in Kaneohe and was starting up a school, and they needed just about everything: desks, chairs, computers, and so on.

I quickly told him about Aloha Shares Network and our goal of keeping good, usable stuff out of Hawaii's landfills and getting them into the hands of nonprofits, churches and schools. I promised to follow-up with our 300-plus donors on Oahu and try to help his school. He was speechless.

Yesterday I received a phone call from a business on Oahu. They wanted to get rid of all kinds of office equipment including desks, chairs, computers, and so on. I made two phone calls and solved their problem of loading, hauling, and tipping fees at the landfill. And the young pastor is getting some good equipment at no cost.

And that's how it works when people network. If you ever find yourself saying, "I hate to throw this away. I'm sure someone could use it," please get in touch with me at <>.

Joy Webster

July 21, 2002

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In response to Karen Meyers letter about mandatory recycling (Maui News 2/25/04): I agree - I would love to see mandatory recycling on Maui.

Otherwise known as Pay-as-you-throw, this kind of program works by raising the trash disposal rates to cover the costs of a free recycling program.

Until that happens, there are other options. I am surprised that you were unable to find a hauler for your recyclables. Did you try giving Maui Recycling Service a call? They are in the phone book under Recycling Services and will pick up your recyclables at your home every two weeks for a small fee.

If you are willing to drop off your own recycling, there are free drop off centers all over the island. Call the Maui County Recycling Hotline at 270-7880 for more information. This is the route my husband and I have taken. When we are finished recycling and composting there only 3 to 5 pounds of trash per month to send to the landfill.

Camille Armantrout


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Eva van Loon of Wailuku hit the nail on the head when she said in a letter to the Maui News on October 4th, “One of the best peace-building activities we can engage in is developing renewable energy sources that will reduce this country’s dependence on oil.”

Maui has the perfect climate for renewable energy. The sun shines, the wind blows and we have plenty of land to grow a biodiesel crop. Congratulations to those who use biodiesel, solar panels and wind power on Maui. Your choice will not cause someone to come home in a body bag.

I noticed that most of the candidates for US Representative, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Representative and State Senator mention “fixing” our economy in their online statements at:

Sadly, only one candidate took an anti-war position. I hope the economy fixers are thinking of fixing it by creating incentives for renewable energy to reduce our dependency on imported oil. Otherwise, our strong economy will surely be fueled by foreign oil.

Further, we need to keep in mind the unseen foreign oil costs in each and every consumer good we purchase. It is worth sending our kids to war to preserve the status quo as advertised on TV? The blind consumer chant of “More, more, more!” sounds a lot like “War, war, war!”

Camille Armantrout

October 13, 2002

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I've been taking a lot of long walks through town lately, which gives me a lot of time to think...and look at political signs.

Wouldn't it be great, I thought if even one candidate broke out of the mold and did something different? What if, instead of posting signs all over the island, they printed their name on re-useable shopping bags and offered them for free at the grocery stores?

Instead of ending up in our waste stream, like all those signs, the bags would be used again and again to keep plastic bags OUT of our waste stream. I am sure the public would be thrilled to vote for someone with that kind of vision.

I can think of a dozen other ways for political candidates to build awareness for themselves without cluttering the landscape. It's not too late for all you true visionaries. Take down your signs and set up a program that will show us that you REALLY care! Just the absence of your name from the crowded fence lines I walk past every week will make me more inclined to vote for you!

Camille Armantrout


September 15, 2004

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Once again Maui is burdened with the waste from an out-of-state company. I refer to the recent distribution, by AdVentures of Blaine, Washington, of the third phone book in as many months to our residents and businesses.

I spoke with Crystal in the corporate office in Blaine, asking her what the company's plan was to recycle their obsolete phone books. Her response was, "Take them to a recycling center." When I told her Maui doesn't have such a thing, she said, "You've got to be kidding!"

No, unfortunately I'm not kidding. We have no recycling center, reuse facility, MRF (materials recovery facility) or any choice but the landfill for most of our imported waste such as old phone books.

The phone book's sales department told us they distributed 80,000 books on Maui alone, not including Lanai and Molokai. At 2 pounds apiece, that’s 160,000 pounds of books that will ultimately end up in our landfill. That's 80 tons!

It's time we stopped allowing off-shore companies to export products to our state without demanding that they take care of the resultant waste. A good example to follow is California's new "product stewardship" legislation.

Joy Webster

January 22, 2003

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Kudos to Rubens Fonseca of Maui EKO and Hana Steel, the County of Maui Recycling coordinator for working with AdVentures Publishing in developing a plan for recycling their phone directories. AdVentures is willing to foot the cost of making sure their product stays out of our landfills.

These phone books will be composted and used to enrich Maui's soil. I can't think of a better use for a product, which would otherwise be considered waste. Now it is up to the public to think twice before throwing old phone books in their garbage cans.

Hawaii needs more companies that are willing to take responsibility for their product after the consumer is finished with it. Everyone involved in this project deserves a big thumbs up!

Rick Woodford


September 15, 2004

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Before you pick up your old phone book and throw it in the trash, think twice, once again we have a 'solid waste resource' that we can use! There are options and we owe it to ourselves and our Island to exercise them.

If you aren't sure, call the publisher.

AdVentures Publishing, for one, is working on a plan for recycling their phone directories. After meeting with Maui Recycling Group, their staff has taken the next step. They have been talking with Hana Steel, Maui's Recycling Coordinator and Rubens Fonseca of Maui EKO to develop a  recycling alternative for their product.

The plan is to send the phone books to Maui EKO where they will be composted. What a simple solution and a fitting use for a product, which formerly lined our landfills!

This level of corporate responsibility is worth applauding. It is great to see local government and companies working together to preserve the beauty of Hawaii. I tip my hat to the folks at AdVentures, Maui EKO and County of Maui who are turning a great idea into reality.

Rick Woodford


September 16, 2004

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I am not surprised that Tom McAllister with Ad Ventures Publishing refuses to go through my garbage and pull out my old phone book for recycling.  I wonder where he would take my phone book if he were to pull it out of my garbage.

My personal recycling options are extremely limited.  I can pay Maui Recycling Service to pick it up with my other residential paper or I can rip out the pages and feed them to my compost pile and send the binding to the landfill. 

Mr. McAllister and his team are well aware that phone books cannot be recycled in Hawaii yet he implies that the burden of keeping the books out of our landfills rests with the community and the end users.

I might be willing to accept my community responsibility for recycling these books if my community had solicited the books.  But this is not what happened.  These books were simply left on or near residential mailboxes.

Individuals had to make a choice whether to leave the book beside the road or take it into their home.  Some took them inside and found them useful.  Others threw them directly into their trash.  Many were outraged when they learned that there was no recycling plan.

There is a huge difference between end user responsibility and manufacturer's responsibility.  When the end user solicits or buys a product, that product becomes their responsibility.  When a manufacturer produces a good and delivers it unbidden to a community in which it cannot be recycled, that would be their responsibility.

In my mind, a book left lying outside is litter until someone takes responsibility for it.

Camille Armantrout

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The 12th edition of the Maui Recycling Group's "Recycling Guide" will be published as in insert in The Maui News on Friday. 

The 12-page tabloid highlights recycling programs in the tourist industry, the current recycling picture on Maui, and provides an opportunity for all residents and visitors to get involved in the biggest recycling project ever undertaken on Maui. 

Additional copies of the guide will be available at public libraries beginning Monday. 

As the editor of the tabloid, I encourage the public to contact me with suggestions and comments about reducing waste, reusing materials, and recycling on Maui. I am especially interested in receiving letters that might be printed in the next edition in mid-May. My e-mail address is 

The Recycling Guide is supported by the sale of advertising; no grant funds are used in the cost of production, printing or distribution. 

Maui Recycling Group Inc. is a private nonprofit organization established in 1989 to provide public education, research, training and technical assistance to encourage environmentally and economically sound solid waste resource management systems in the County of Maui and the State of Hawaii. 

Log onto for more information or e-mail 

S. Joy Webster


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Recycling is a loop. The key to completing this loop is to make sure we are buying truly recycled items. As demand increases, the price decreases. We must be willing to pay a little more now for recycled paper in order to increase the demand and drive the price down in the future.

Post-consumer waste (PCW) is the key term when buying paper. It refers to the used paper from recycling bins. “Recycled paper” may only use mill scraps not real recycled paper from bins. Ideally, unbleached, 100 percent PCW paper is what more people, businesses and organizations should be using on a regular basis to start completing the recycling loop.

Do we really need every piece of paper to be perfectly white, especially those file copies that customers never see? In paper, white means chlorine bleaching. Chlorine bleaching makes the paper mill industry the worst water polluter in the world, discharging toxic chlorides which accumulate in the environment, cause cancer or genetic damage, and lead to reduced reproductivity in fish.

If a recycled paper is made from 100 percent recycled fibers, it does not require much bleaching and can be done easily with an oxygen-based process.

According to, post consumer waste recycled paper reduces water pollution by 35 percent, reduces air pollution by 74 percent, and eliminates many toxic pollutants.

If you are not using recycled products, you are not really recycling

Tonya Duncan

July 7, 2002

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A Feb. 24 letter implies that there are no company's who offer hauling services for recyclables here on Maui.  A search in the yellow pages under "Recycling Services" provides a listing of recycling hauling companies.  At Maui Recycling Service, we are in our 15th year of business, providing Maui's only residential curbside recycling program, in addition to our comprehensive commercial services.  The letter listed glass, plastic, cardboard, aluminum etc. as items they want to have hauled.  Not only does Maui Recycling Service haul those items, we include tin/steel food cans, mixed paper, and even old cell phones.  We would be happy to answer any questions about the services we provide at 244-0443.

Shaun Stenshol
Maui Recycling Service

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Hawaii recently became the 11th state to adopt a Beverage Container Law (or Bottle Bill.)  However, Governor Lingle has expressed a desire to have it repealed before it can be put into action.

This situation reflects poorly on the people of Hawaii.  It says one of three things; either Hawaiians don’t care about their land or we think we are smarter than those people who have adopted Bottle Bills or we are unable to implement a Bottle Bill that will work.

I recommend we give the bill a try.  No other state has ever repealed a Bottle Bill.  The average recovery rate for beverage containers in States that have implemented Bottle Bills is 80% while States without them recover less than the National average of 41%.  That sounds like a good track record to me.

We certainly need something!  Given our inability to move any plastic beverage bottles off Maui over the last year and a half, we would definitely benefit from a proven container recycling program.  California recovers 34% of their plastic beverage bottles with the help of their Bottle Bill.

I find it sad that Hawaii continues to place the economy over the environment.  We are measuring our lives in dollars, not sense.  I’m afraid that the government won’t take positive action until our islands begin to look like Manhattan island.  Unfortunately, by then it will be too late.

Camille Armantrout

February 17. 2003

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A few months ago, my husband and I made a small change to change our shopping habits.  We began re using our grocery bags.

We felt that we could no longer afford the convenience of single-use plastic bags after finding that neither plastic processor on island was equipped to separate plastic bags and make sure they got re-used or recycled.

Because plastic bag recovery is a challenging process, only .7% are recycled in America.  Each year, the remaining 5.6 billion bags are thrown away.  That’s 40,000 tons of plastic which takes up 4,418 million cubic yards of landfill space!

We started changing our habits by bringing our grocery bags back into the store when we shopped.  Many grocery stores gave a 5 cent credit for each bag we re-used.  Next, we began asking for paper instead of plastic.  When our paper bags got old, we recycled them with our cardboard.

Later, we bought cotton grocery bags, which are available at many of the stores.  When those bags get dirty, we throw them into the washing machine.  In the future, we plan to keep our old linen out of the landfill by sewing it into produce bags.

The hardest part about making this change was remembering to bring our bags into the store.  We had to re-train ourselves by walking back to the car for our bags when we forgot.  The benefit to us is peace of mind from knowing that we aren’t contributing plastic bags to Maui’s Central Landfill.

Camille Armantrout

December 7, 2002

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The state and the county have the commission of the crime exactly backwards. The real criminals are hiding behind elected and appointed positions who talk the environmental talk but conspicuously fail to walk the walk. They all took oaths of office to uphold the constitution by working "of the people, by the people, for the people," only to succumb to bribery-induced campaign contributions, selling out our community while doing the bidding of the wealthy.

By fining Maui's only metal scrap facility over $200,000 for providing a necessary service to the community instead of funding the shipping costs (The Maui News, May 21), the authorities have become the criminals in cahoots with the corporations. We taxpayers will have to pay many times over the true costs when the dumping of cars, appliances, etc. becomes rampant due to the lack of legitimate facilities. The tourists will stop coming to an islandwide garbage dump. That would please many shortsighted isolationists, but their children and grand-children will never be able to find jobs to finance a home or a car or the education of their own kids.

The truth screamed to us all on the front page of The Maui News when the Apana family was viciously attacked by authorities framing them as the problem with phony permit violations in an obvious attempt to pass the buck and cover their own deceitful behinds. The Apanas provide a vital service while being ignored financially and unfairly vilified for many years. They (and other recyclers) should be heralded for their commitment to us all.

Paul Brandt


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Congressional candidate Mike Gabbard has proposed shipping Hawaii's trash to the Mainland as a "short-term solution" to our landfill problems (Viewpoint, July 27). I'm surprised by such a narrow, short-sighted, and expensive plan.

We can do better. We should set a goal of achieving zero waste, which means 100 percent recycling, reusing, reducing and composting. No landfills or incinerators required, lots of jobs created locally, and a cleaner environment to boot.

A July 30 letter offered a relatively simple and excellent way to boost our recycling/diversion rate to over 50 percent by composting most of the fibers (kitchen scraps, grass clippings, other yard waste, cardboard, and paper) currently going to our landfills. And some of these fibers, like cardboard, are usually worth enough to bale up and ship to a paper mill for recycling.

Landfill bans are also effective ways to keep other easily recyclable items like glass, aluminum, tin/steel, etc., out of our growing landfills. Mr. Gabbard and anyone else reading this can find information on zero waste at

The bottom line is that we need to stop looking at our waste stream as a liability; something to bury in the ground. There are sustainable choices. We need to be creative because we only have so many resources on Earth for an ever-growing population.

Shaun Stenshol


Printed Maui News Aug 13, 2004

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I had to laugh when I read Mike Gabbard's proposal for shipping Hawaii's garbage to the mainland.  My first thought was: I'm glad he's concerned about disposing of all those "Mike Gabbard for Congress" campaign signs.

Seriously, I applaud Gabbard’s stand against building Hawaii landfills over aquifers.  I couldn't agree more that we need “solutions that include diverting and eliminating a majority of the volume from our waste stream through enhanced recycling efforts, composting, and common sense product packaging.”  However, I cannot support his interim proposal to ship our garbage to the mainland.

The “Ship It Out” proposal is the ultimate in NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) thinking.  No matter where we send our garbage, it will even eventually percolate into the water table.  Jeopardizing water quality on the mainland to protect Hawaii water is selfish and immoral.  Reducing and recycling our waste are the only responsible choices.

Further, Gabbard's proposal involves shipping local dollars out of state along with our garbage to pay for freight and tipping fees.  I would rather see those dollars stay here to support local jobs in the recycling and waste management industries.

Gabbard hit the nail on the head when he said that Hawaii is uniquely situated to lead the way in implementing modern technology to deal with the ever-increasing amount of trash.  I see no reason to wait.  Let’s begin supporting local diversion technology immediately.

Camille Armantrout


June 25, 2004

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So many political signs, so little real information - such as what issues are at the center of their campaign.  Like so many other products being hawked today, political campaigns rely solely upon name recognition.

If I wasn't so dazzled by the myriad of names, I might be able to identify what each candidate stood for.   As it stands now, I am dreading my turn in the voting booth.  How great it would be to vote our values as opposed to names as suggested by another writer (letters, October 13.)

In a perfect world, I could clearly identify the candidates who supported initiatives such as a single-payer healthcare system, pay-as-you-throw garbage and recycling solutions and planning based on water availability.

If values were at the core of the political campaigns, I could vote for balance, balance between the "haves" and the "have-nots," the environment and its inhabitants, between imported and local.  What fun it would be to go vote for the things I believe in and want to support!

Camille Armantrout


October 26, 2004

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How can a county council that has just banned cigarette smoking be considering incineration as a garbage processing option?  The last thing we need in Hawaii is another source of air pollution.

While it’s easy to believe that we don’t have pollution issues out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the reality is that what we affectionately call “Vog” is partly composed of car exhaust, smoke from cane fires and sugar processing.  I’d hate to see Maui County add an incinerator to this list.

Call it waste-to-energy, plasma arc or H-power; they all amount to the same thing.  The proposition is that by simply buying the right technology, Maui County can turn its garbage into electricity, while helping extend the landfills.  Who wouldn’t want one?

The truth is that incinerators are notoriously expensive and yield only small amounts of electricity.  Worse, they destroy non-renewable resources like aluminum while pouring dioxin and other toxins into the air and soil.

A better alternative for processing our garbage would be to divert the large percentage of organic materials and turn it into compost.  That compost would be well used on Maui’s crops and gardens to reduce our dependency on imported compost and chemical fertilizers.

The current Mayor and County Council are disturbingly open to garbage incineration despite a previous ruling not to consider it.  I’m hoping our future Mayor and County Council are able to resist the siren song of the incinerator manufacturers and have the guts to say “No!”

Camille Armantrout

October 2, 2002

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Maui, give yourself a pat on the back. You guys are great! Each county has its own glass recycling program. Based on data from July 1 through Dec. 31, Mauians recycled almost twice as much glass per person as any other county. We average almost three pounds per month per person. The Big Island is a distant second at a little over one and a half pounds. By the way, three pounds is about a six-pack. I know we can do even better.

The workings of government are somewhat curious at best. Do you know that even though we do the best glass recycling job in the state, we are paid the smallest amount of money per ton? If my recycling business were located on the Big Island, I would receive nearly twice the per-ton payment as I receive on Maui!

Your glass recycling program is paid for by the state. The state collects an advanced disposal fee from glass importers and passes the money along to the counties. The problem is the distribution mechanism. It is based on defacto population (i.e. residents plus visitors) and not on performance. That procedure needs to change.

Thomas D. Reed, president,

Aloha Glass Recycling

February 13, 2003

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Thank you for printing my letter on October 1, 2003 regarding the benefits of choosing local food products over imported.  I am, however, puzzled as to why you chose to replace my title, "Local food good for consumers and our community" with the title "It takes effort to cut the cost of food on the table."  I believe that your title misses the point I was trying to make.

In my letter I was trying to say that the benefits of seeking out local products far outweighs the effort.  Nowhere in my letter did I mention the cost of local food over imported.  If I had chosen to address the cost, I would have said that the cost of fresh local produce from the farmer's markets is much lower than that of produce that has been shipped in.

Camille Armantrout


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I am writing to express my outrage about the lack of recycling for cans, bottles, plastics, paper, etc., on Maui.

During a recent vacation in the Kaanapali area my husband and I were truly shocked to discover how little collaboration there seems to be on Maui to recycle. Stores were not charging deposits or accepting returns. We discussed the situation with our hotel only to be told they didn't want to pay someone to cart these away just so someone else could make money off them.

We spoke with many other travelers from Europe, Canada and across the states who were equally appalled that Maui is still filling landfills with garbage unnecessarily. This is such a turnoff for tourists who recycle at home and take pride in doing their bit to care for the Earth.

Come on, folks, business and government need to get it together and clean up their act. Become good world citizens and create appropriate recycling programs instead of continuing to foul "paradise."

Brenda Pengelly

Victoria, British Columbia

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A recent notice put out by Maui County, ("County to restrict plastic recycling items" - Maui News 1/15/03) stated that the county will restrict plastic recycling for businesses and condominiums because of high contamination compared to the County Drop Bins.

I think it is important to report that the real reason plastic is being restricted for businesses, condominiums and curbside recycling is because, in July of 2001, the County changed contractors for their Drop Bin program and the new contractor cannot handle the volume. All anyone has to do is go to the Central Maui Base yard, off Mokulele, to see the mountain of plastic that has been piling up for the past 18 months. This is very unfortunate because the previous contractor, Aloha Plastic, was able to handle the volume.

The notice also stated that plastic will still be "accepted" at the County Drop Bins because they "have a much lower rate of contamination." However, in a meeting involving plastic haulers and processors late last year, the County's contractor stated that they were unable to collect enough of the recyclable PET (soda & water bottles) and grocery store bags fast enough to ship them off island for recycling before they were degraded by the sun and weather. This included both commercial plastic and plastic collected in the Drop Bins.

I think it is time the citizens of Maui hold the County accountable for the materials that are "accepted" at the Drop Bins. Are they being recycled? Or are they just being stockpiled for later landfilling?

Shaun Stenshol

January 22, 2003

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Once again, there was no recycling plan for two of last year’s phone books; The Maui Big Book and Ad Ventures.  This inaction added approximately 160 tons of garbage to Maui's already over-burdened landfill.  Verizon did marginally better with a poorly advertised plan that was over by the time most people found out about it.

All three companies are aware that their phone books do not recycle on Maui.  All three were asked to figure out how to keep their product out of our landfill.  Only Verizon responded with any kind of plan.

Sadly, the bottom line is profit and shipping non-recyclable items off the islands costs money.  If there were a mandate for recycling all phone books on the islands, all three companies would be on the same footing.  The extra cost of recycling would be viewed as a necessary part of doing business rather than as a direct hit to the bottom line.

Most of us are appalled when we learn that there is no way to recycle all of our old phone books.  We wonder what it will take for the manufacturers and their advertisers to take responsibility for their product.

As residents who have to live with (and pay for) the extra tonnage in our landfills, we can and should make our voices heard.  Contact Cindy Sorter at Ad Ventures Publishing, P O Box 270. Blaine, WA  98231, 1-877-561-7772 regarding their book and The Maui Big Book; and Verizon Hawaii, Customer Relations, PO Box 2200, Honolulu, HI  96841, (800) 483-7988.

Camille Armantrout

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There is talk of building a waste-to-energy incinerator on Maui. This a hot topic.

So hot, even the EPA is reluctant to release findings regarding dioxin from incinerators. Representatives from the incinerator industry assure us this method of dealing with trash is safe. Meanwhile, environmental groups and communities all over the world have found that their incinerators produce toxins.

Incinerators transform reusable materials into dioxin, metals, toxic ash and toxic gas. Dioxin, the ingredient that made Agent Orange famous, is a huge threat to our health.  It has been linked to neurological disorders and cancer.  Dioxin ultimately ends up in our food supply including human breast milk.

Incinerators are expensive. While the electricity generated helps offset its costs, Oahu residents must pay $81 per ton to dispose of trash in their H-Power plant. This tipping fee covers the cost of plant construction, management and $6,400 per day to secure the toxic ash in a special landfill.

On Maui, we pay $43 per ton to use our landfill. This is likely to increase if we decide to build an incinerator here. We’ll be obligated to feed it garbage daily so that it can pay for itself, resulting in pressure to burn materials that could have been composted or recycled. It's a step in the wrong direction.

Because of community opposition to incineration, most of the incinerator proposals developed in the last five years have been abandoned. Many existing incinerators have been shut down.  Maybe these communities know something we don’t. Let’s learn from their mistakes.

Camille Armantrout

July 17, 2002

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The west side neighborhood known as Kaanapali Hillside and its homeowners’ association should be commended for their efforts to promote and support recycling.

The association of about 150 homeowners contracts with Maui Reyccling Service to retrieve its recyclables from a convenient central enclosure.  The individuals of the neighborhood have done an exemplary job of sorting and placing their recyclables into the supplied bins.

Congratulations, Kaanapali Hillside.  Your proactive efforts should be applauded by all residents of our island.

Shaun Stenshol

December 23, 2002

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How much single-use plastic packaging did you throw "away" today?

I was amazed to learn that the "chasing arrows" seen on the bottom of many plastic items does NOT indicate that the material is recyclable.  That number is placed on the item by the manufacturer to indicate the type of plastic used.  According to the plastics industry, those arrows were added  as a "catchy graphic" to frame the numerical code and were “never intended” to indicate that a container was recyclable or had recycled content.

On Maui, only some of type 2 plastic (milk bottles and laundry soap type bottles) can be remade into a usable product (plastic lumber). All the other plastic types require shipment off-island and usually the bulk of it ends up in someone else's landfill.

In addition to the sheer bulk that single-use plastic packaging generates for our landfill, the manufacture and disposal of plastics creates toxins that persist in our environment.  According to the EPA's 1994 Toxic Release Inventory, the plastics industry annually contributes 14% of the national total of toxic releases to the atmosphere.

Our waste stream on Maui is about 25% plastic by volume, according to a 1994 County of Maui study.  This is creating a legacy of toxins for future generations here on the Valley Isle.

Just say NO to single use plastic packaging.  You do have a choice.  You can choose glass and aluminum over plastic.  Vote with your dollars for our community's health.

There is no such place as "away."

Bob Armantrout

June 29, 2002

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Everyone has their own motivations for recycling.  Here are a few of mine:

  1. Recycling gives me an overview of our consumer pattern.  It’s humbling to see how many empty beer bottles two people can produce in a month.  This knowledge gave me and my husband the incentive to start brewing our own beer!

  2. I’d rather be part of the solution than part of the problem.  All landfills ultimately release toxins, especially if they contain kitchen scraps, paper, yard trimmings, and cardboard.  We don’t put these things in our trash because we don’t want to pollute Maui.

  3. I enjoy the challenge.  It’s a fun game to see just how little we can send to the landfill.  Each week that we don’t have to haul our trash can to the curb is a week worth celebrating with some of that delicious home-brewed beer.

  4. I need an excuse to go outside.  Call me weird, but now that we don’t have horses to feed, I miss my evening chores.  Taking out the recycling is a great reason to wander out to the shed and see what the birds are up to.

Congratulations to the many households on Maui that take the time to recycle.  For the rest of you – what are you waiting for?  You can begin now by choosing one type of material to divert from your trash.  Every little bit helps!

If not now, when?

Camille Armantrout

June, 16 2002

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My daughter asked me one day, “Why do you recycle?” I carefully said, “Because I care about the earth and I care about my children’s future.” I explained to her that everything we toss in the rubbish can ends up in the landfill, a big hole in the earth. Everything we set aside and recycle ends up reused or made into something else. 

In high school, I completed a report on space stations and realized that if we are not careful, someday we will have to live in bubbles or in outer space.  I love the earth, the fresh air, the beautiful scenery.  I want my future grandchildren to experience the same beauty.

Humans have been given the responsibility to take care of the earth and the animals.  Each individual action can make a small difference.

If corporations live up to their responsibilities it will make a huge difference.

We should invest in our children¹s future, teach them by example, recycle what we can.  Once you start, it becomes so important, that it hurts as if we are tossing their beautiful future away.

Tonya Duncan

August 6, 2002

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One concept lies at the core of issues that make me worry about the fate of human kind.  It is responsible for our need to go to war over resources.  This problem is causing loss of our rainforests and species diversity.  It’s responsible for the increasingly frenetic pace of life and over-flowing landfills.

This concept is generally labeled “Over Consumption” but the words Progress, Greed, and Affluence also apply.  A desire to succeed at life drives us to jump on the treadmill and remain there until we retire.  The media leads us to believe that more is better and that we owe it to ourselves to “have it our way” and “just do it.”

Americans are at the top of the heap when it comes to using the earth’s resources.  It has been estimated that Americans consume over 25% of the earth’s resources while representing only 5% of the earth’s population.  No wonder we are at war!

I see a direct correlation between happiness and simplicity.  Do yourselves and the earth a favor - slow down, stop chasing money and the goods we buy with it.  If we don’t buy it, they won’t make it.  The resources won’t be extracted from the earth or fought over, the manufacturing plants won’t add to pollution and the product won’t ultimately end up in the landfill.

Camille Armantrout  

August 12, 2002

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It’s been said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  I was recently pleased to see just how easy is to give re-usable items a new home when they become obsolete in your household.

A few months ago, we found ourselves with an unwanted piano keyboard.  While I was tempted to just throw it away and save myself the hassle, I began to explore other alternatives.  I decided to sell it myself rather than drop it at the Salvation Army and risk it’s not being sold.

I wrote a small (free) ad and dropped it at one of Maui Bulletin's drop boxes.  The morning after the Bulletin came out, a young man called us asking about the keyboard.  We made a date and drove over.  He met us in his driveway, took a look at the keyboard and handed us $50 cash.  The best part was the smile on his face as he carried it into the house.

It made our day to give that keyboard another chance in the hands of someone who knew what to do with it.  Best of all we were able to do the right thing with a minimum of fuss.  Thank you Maui Bulletin!

Camille Armantrout

September 13, 2002

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