Huliau students attend POPS for the 4th year in a row!

For the 4th consecutive year, Huliau students attended the Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions youth summit in Dana Point, California organized by Algalita Marine Research Institute. They presented their work helping to expand our Huliau Green Events program, got information and feedback from experts, and networked with youth around the world. Below are photos of their journey and their description of their experience.

Our students write about their experience at POPS 2018

by Taylor Redman, Kiana Liu, Dylan Falces and Lehua Jimenez

While attending the Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions (POPS) International Youth Summit in Dana Point, we learned a lot of pertinent information, as well as made lifelong connections with other people from around the world who share the same love and passion for the environment as we do. During the summit, all the teams which were invited shared ideas on how to solve the world’s plastic pollution problems. The idea we brought to POPS is called Huliau Green Events. Our projects long term goal focuses on diverting an average of 75% of the waste from our landfills by 2030. This goal is aligned with the Aloha + challenge statewide goals for a sustainable Hawaiʻi. We are working to achieve this goal by partnering with event coordinators to try and convert them from plastic takeout wear to a compostable alternative and manning waste stations where event goers waste is sorted into recyclable, compostable and trash. Through these efforts we are able to educate the public and have been able to divert between 75%-95% of waste from large events.

After hearing the inspiring presentations of others, our group decided that we too can implement it here in Hawaiʻi. One of the main eye openers was getting restaurants to serve straws upon request. After watching a film dedicated to this effort, it inspired us to get onboard with the movement. While dining in the mainland and on our layover in Oʻahu, our group made requests to eat with our own food ware instead of using their plastic food containers and use our own utensils and straws. After the experience at POPS, we noticed how unnecessary straws and plastic food ware is which inspired us to work more on these issues for our next project.

This summit empowers youth in letting them know that they aren’t alone in this fight against single use plastic and plastic pollution. Many of us in the group come from families and friend groups that don’t quite understand the issues we stand for. Therefore, being able to attend this summit and meet like minded people, made us proud to stand against unnecessary plastics. The summit gave us many tools to utilize in our upcoming projects, but the most important in our opinion was the networks we made while at POPS. With friends from New Zealand, Lebanon, the Bahamas and more it’s easy to get in contact with them. Our mentor Stephanie was also a great resource in helping us visualize the future of Green Events and she advised us to set goals of the change we want to make, and steps to achieve them. With networks and mentors around the world, we now have the connections to help end plastic pollution. We would like to thank Hawaiian Airlines for donating the airfare portion of our trip and to Algalita for organizing another amazing youth summit!