In 2009, Brian Schatz walked into our office on North Main St. in Wailuku. At the time, the 41-year-old, fresh-faced Michigan-born Democrat was campaigning for lieutenant governor on the ticket with U.S. Rep. and soon-to-be-Governor Neil Abercrombie.
Polluted runoff, the often-untreated murky brown water that oozes out into Maui’s ocean after every large storm, contains a toxic stew of oil, gas, fertilizers, pesticides, pharmaceuticals along with plastics, animal waste, detritus, sand, soil and rocks.
At best 10% of US plastic waste gets recycled. Another 13% gets burned, sometimes to generate electricity. Most of the remaining plastic is buried in landfills, but each year at least 1 billion pounds of plastic finds its way into our oceans.
Is Maui destined to rely on imports to build its homes or do local materials stand a chance?
Up a steep driveway in Kīpahulu, past fruit trees and dense jungle, outcroppings of bamboo begin to appear, stitched into the mountainside. Dusky black stalks and tea-green shoots adorn the landscape at Whispering Winds, a 230-acre farm cooperative where Rich von Wellsheim has been growing bamboo for nearly two decades.