Yesterday, on July 3rd, Hawaii's Governor Ige signed into law banning the sale of sunscreen that contains Oxybenzone to protect the fragile marine ecosystem, including both the coral reef and marine animals, from this dangerous chemical compound.
As many of you know, HOA begin working alongside Dr. Craig Downs who led the research effort to show the deleterious effects of Oxybenzone on Hawaii's reefs to help create grassroots awareness among the citizens of Hawaii as to the dangers of this sunscreen additive more than two years ago.
We testified on the Bill in the Hawaii State Legislature, sponsored an interview with Dr. Downs, led email, letter writing, and phone drives to our elected representatives ahead of Committee hearings, attended information sessions and helped advocate for awareness events on the beaches of Maui.
After the proposed Bills stalled in Committee in 2017, it was tough at times to maintain faith that we would ever see this landmark legislation passed. But along the way, we met so many amazing and engaged people who put so much time, effort, and determination into getting this done, that whenever it would feel hopeless someone else would pick up the baton and run with it and our faith and energies would be renewed.
Today as we celebrate our Independence Day and the birth of our country, we can't help but reflect on how this effort was all possible through the use of democratic means that so many people fought and died for. This year as you consider your contributions to society, we'd challenge you to think about how you are exercising your appreciation for the sacrifices of those who fought and died for our right to petition our government and to have a say in the affairs of the administration of our society.
Are you going to do your homework and vote for Ocean and Environmentally conscious representatives in the Midterm Election this fall? Are you advocating for cleaner water, cleaner beaches, less unchecked construction runoff? Are you demanding bans on plastic bags, styrofoam, or single use plastics? Have you called, emailed, or wrote to your representatives about an issue that matters to you?
If not, why not? Is it out of laziness? Lack of concern? Lack of direction?
Just remember those that gave EVERYTHING for your democratic rights and think hard on how you can best honor those sacrifices in the year ahead.
Mahalo to everyone who strived and worked to get this legislation passed, especially Dr. Craig Downs and his team at the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Northern Virginia; Lisa Bishop, Bob Kern, and the rest of the crew at Friends of Haunama Bay who were tireless advocates and led the charge over a year ago by replacing all sunscreen in the gift shop with reef safe sunscreen and creating materials at HB to educate visitors and locals alike about the dangers; Representative Chris Lee for his work in Committee; State Senator Joe Espero who tirelessly crusaded for this legislation and repeatedly sponsored the bills; and everyone else in Hawaii who started switching to reef safe sunscreen, educating their friends and families, and worked to make this change happen.
America truly can be (if it isn't already) the greatest nation on Earth! We've just got to fight for it and continue to love and respect the democratic process, no matter what the flaws, and continue to work for a continuously better future for our future generations. Afterall, we owe one heckuva debt to those who came before. Let's get busy paying it.
Mahalo nui loa and Happy 4th of July!!!
Have fun, stay safe, and don't forget to pick up some trash when you are out at the beach today!
PC: Governor Ige's Twitter