Molokai lights the way

Special to The Hawaii Independent
By Blue Planet Foundation

MOLOKAI—When tens of thousands of free energy efficient CFLs were offered to Molokai to reduce their oil dependence, the community stepped up and said “hiki no!” (can do!).

After three months and 36,000 incandescent light bulbs replaced with CFLs, Molokai is showing what a big difference little changes can make. Through the “Go Green & Carbon Clean” campaign, Blue Planet provided the bulbs and coordination, but the heavy lifting (sometimes quite literally) was done by the hundreds of student and community volunteers who stepped up to help unscrew the old bulbs and distribute new CFLs.

Over the life of the bulbs, the Molokai residents will save an estimated $6.5 million, preventing the use of over 17 gigawatt-hours of electricity and 24,000 barrels of oil, reducing greenhouse gas pollution by over 16,000 tons.

A follow-up random survey of Molokai residents (margin of error +/- 5.7% at 95% confidence) found that nearly 60% of residents swapped their light bulbs during the campaign, with the typical participant swapping 15 bulbs. Of those participating, 42% saw an immediate decrease in their energy bill, and 68% of participants are looking for additional ways to cut energy use, such as behavior changes or installing solar. Over 87% of those aware of the program felt that it was effective, and 88% would consider participating in future energy savings programs.

Kimberly Mikami Svetin, president of Moloka’i Drugs and Kamo’i Snack-n-Go, organized the distribution of CFLs through local businesses.

“The business community was so supportive of the ‘Go Green & Carbon Clean’ campaign,” Svetin said. “Our local merchants and small businesses distributed over 60 percent of the CFLs at staff meetings and through their storefronts and human resources offices. We are ecstatic to be a part of this effort and look forward to working with Blue Planet in the future.”

Sonya Yuen, co-owner of Kualapuu Market (the only grocery store within five miles of the towns of Kualapuu, Kalae and Hoolehua), praised the program.

“We are glad to have been able to participate as a distribution site for the CFL program,” she said. “Anything we can do to conserve energy and do our part to preserve our island environment is something we will support 100 percent.”

Edrian Apo, a Hoolehua homestead resident and third grade teacher at Kaunakakai Elementary School, was among the first of Moloka’i residents to covert completely to CFLs.

“We converted all of our bulbs to CFLs in early April,” she said. “We instantly saw a decrease in electricity usage and at least a $10 per month savings on our electric bill.”

Heidi Jenkins is a fourth grade teacher and First Lego League robotics advisor at Kaunakakai Elementary School. She coordinated the CFL distribution via public and private schools.

“Mahalo to our students, teachers, and school staff members who were incredible advocates in the Go Green & Carbon Clean project,” Jenkins said. “They spent over 200 volunteer hours exchanging old bulbs for CFLs. Our students also educated our community and the public about the benefits of independence from fossil fuels at Saturday market days, at Earth Day, by going door-to-door, and at community events.”

The Molokai “Go Green & Carbon Clean” project is receiving a “Recognition of Achievement” award from the Board of Education at their meeting on Molokai this Thursday.

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