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President’s Message – April 2021

By: Toby Taniguchi, President

Aloha my fellow Chamber members —  This April we join together to celebrate Earth Day under the theme “Restore Our Earth™.”  Though the pandemic has given us plenty of hardships and heartaches, one of the gifts it has given us was revealing to us just how much of an impact we have on planet Earth, and moreover, how a concerted effort can change the degree of that impact for the better.

When manufacturing shut down in China, for example or when the freeways of Los Angeles were clear from workers staying at home, we witnessed the skies above these polluted areas begin to clear.  Here on our own shores, we saw coral reefs begin to bounce back with life and our bays fill with marine life due to fewer people being in the water.  In short, we’ve seen that making changes (even if they weren’t done intentionally) can have positive effects on our environment.  This April, I encourage all of you to make some changes with intention and enthusiasm for the benefit of our planet Earth!

With everything that our businesses and people have been through in the past year, having to worry about the environment is probably not at the top of the to-do list for many.  However, creating an organization that focuses on making changes toward more sustainable practices could have benefits for our businesses including both marketing and customer loyalty.

First things first — before we know where to go, we need to understand where we are currently at. Conducting a sustainability audit (Cultivating Capital has a good one, with lots of resources, or you can also check Google) is a good place to start.  Once you’ve found an audit to use, consider forming your organization’s Green Team (see more below) and thoroughly and accurately conduct your audit to see what areas you’re doing well in, what areas can be improved, and where to start.  The audit results will give you an individualized plan that can help you create a budget and timeline for your greening activities.

Green Teams can be as small as two people or as large as your company supports.  These should be stakeholders that have some familiarity with sustainable practices (or at least an interest in the subject) and should represent a diverse group of people where possible.

Once you’ve done your audit and established your team, it’s time to get to work on actionable items. There are a few easy things that you can do to get started without having to make major capital investments or huge adjustments right off the bat.  Changing lighting to energy efficient bulbs, greening your supply chain, and offering more sustainable products, for example, are just a few easy things you can do to get started.

Regardless of how big or how small you start, don’t forget to include your sustainability efforts in your marketing strategy:  bring customers in on your activities via social media; call out new sustainable/locally made products on your shelves and your virtual spaces.  Customer loyalty based on aligned ethics can and often pay off greatly.

In 2008, the State of Hawaii announced the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), which included Governor Ige signing two bills that would lower our carbon footprint.  In 2014, the HCEI renewed its commitment to setting bold clean energy goals that include achieving the nation’s first-ever 100% renewable portfolio standards (rps) by 2045.  With just a little over 20 years to go before this tremendous leap, it’s time that all of us start paying attention to what we do and how we conduct our business.  At KTA we are beginning to focus our efforts to green our supply chain, increase our use of renewable energy, reduce plastic and food waste, and more.  Let’s work together to get ahead of the curve and do our best to protect this incredible Island and Earth that we all call home.  

Toby