Civics = Empowerment & Engagement

An activated and engaged community has the opportunity to make real change from the ground-up every day. However, many citizens are often paralyzed by the first steps to getting involved with politics. It takes time, it takes courage, it can be uncomfortable – but Surfrider O‘ahu is here to help you break down some of the power structures that stop us from creating the world we want to live in. This page is designed to empower you to get involved and make a difference. This page is designed to guide you through some of the initial steps of engagement and help you follow along with specific pieces of legislation that Surfrider and its partners are working on. Join the movement, create an empowered community.

Action Alert

Click on the image below to learn more about how you can support the office of Climate Change & Sustainability at Honolulu Hale!

Step 1: Create your account

Create an account on the Hawai‘i State Capitol Website using the button to the right. Once created you can log-in to find your Senators & Representatives (use the address dialogue box in the top right), follow bills (be alerted via email of hearing dates and status updates), and submit written testimony online. Once you are logged in you will see the three buttons in the middle of the page light up orange. These are your most important tools. Using directions from the public access room website (second button) is also an amazing tool. The info-graphic below also shows you the 8 simple steps for submitting testimony in less than 5 minutes.

Step 2: Following Bills

Follow along with some of our priority bills using the buttons below. You can add these bills to your hearing notifications once you are logged into the capitol website and you will get email reminders. Once a bill has a hearing it will open the opportunity to submit online testimony which is the step to follow below.

In 2017 our Soil Carbon & School Composting Bills have almost made it through all committees and need one last push:

HB 1578 Soil Carbon Hearing: 

Friday, March 31st 9:30 AM, Senate Ways & Means Committee

Great news! Our carbon farming bill (HB 1578) got another hearing. You can take action and tell the WAM Committee to pass this bill on Friday by using our friend’s at the Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety’s click to submit button (or follow the steps in the graphic above to include your personal message). Submit testimony now with one click >>

     By harnessing the power of photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide into energy and send as much as 40% of that carbon down through their roots to feed hungry microorganisms living in the soil. By incentivizing farming and ranching practices based on regenerative, agroecological principles, we can keep that carbon in the ground where it can enhance crop yields, improve water quality, and increase plants’ resilience to drought, floods, and pathogens.
Hawai‘i has an opportunity to create a Carbon Farming Task Force that will create incentives for farmers and ranchers to improve the resilience of their land and protect their livelihoods and our food security in the face of escalating climate uncertainty. Soil health initiatives are sprouting up around the country, and Hawai‘i can and should become a leader in this hopeful movement!

HB 1577 School Composting


Composting in Schools

Call/Email Senator Tokuda to ask for a hearing in the Ways & Means Committee (the final hearing for this bill):

phone: 808-587-7215

Already on Oahu, schools have shown a model of progress in diverting food waste into composting systems that are then in turn used to have mini closed-loop agriculture systems on campus. While traditional systems of classroom education still have a place, hands-on experience shows much higher learning retention and engagement possibilities. Farming and agricultural systems in particular have the potential to cross multiple disciplines of study in one living classroom. Students are connected to biology, botany, chemistry, mathematics, economics, engineering, resource management, cultural knowledge, and team work all in one space.

Our food waste problem is one that could be considered tragic considering the amount of people going without. Nearly 30% of all consumer food is wasted – going to landfills or incinerators which are not part of a closed loop that maximizes the potential for a regenerative economy. This program would have the potential for the DOE to cut its disposal pickup frequency and tipping fees by 50%, resulting in an estimated 7-9 million fewer pounds of wet, organic waste and paper entering Hawaii’s landfills and incinerator(s).

Step 3: Submitting Testimony

Submitting online testimony can take as little as 2 minutes. If you only have time you can simply click on the specific bill and the submit testimony button. Your email will already be filled in and even just clicking “support” or “oppose” makes a difference. The more people chime in on one side, the more public opinion will influence the final vote. Take it a step further and write in your opinions in the box or attach a longer document. All of this will be available as public testimony. Below you will find documents that discuss this process and links to sample testimony you can download to use as a template.

Sample Testimony Foam Bills

Sample Testimony Soil Carbon Bills

Take the Foam Free Pledge
Join Surfriders in taking the Ocean Friendly Hawai‘i pledge by agreeing to not eat at restaurants that still use foam for take-out and to-go. As an island community it is our kuleana to be a leader in a sustainable, single-use plastic free future.
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