Marine Conservation Biology in Hawaii

The Quest for Sustainability and the Case of the Replacement Towels
by -- January 21st, 2012

Before arriving on Midway Island, we stayed at the East-West Center in Honolulu. We’ve done some amazing things already, and while we’re here in Hawaii we even have the opportunity to cut down on our global footprint.

The weather in Honolulu was beautiful and mild (about 75 degrees), and amazingly our rooms had overhead fans instead of freezing cold air conditioning that seems to be the norm in many hot weather climates (think the freezing LSRC building at the Nicholas School in scorching hot weather).

Not only that, the East-West Center had even taken the opportunity to educate us about the wonders we can do for the planet and for Hawaii by merely reusing our towels while we were here.  Just hang them up to signal you don’t need new ones, and when do need clean towels, throw them on the floor.  And that cute little dolphin helps you make up your mind if you happen to be on the fence over whether to participate.

What could be more simple than this in the quest for sustainability?!   Sign me up!



The Plot Thickens

However, there seemed to be a malfunction in the towel program.  Every morning we left the room with our towels hung up as a signal that we did not need clean ones.  And every day we returned home from the day’s activities to find that our towels had been mysteriously replaced by freshly laundered ones, and usually more than we started with.  It seemed that someone had missed the boat on the implementation part of this sustainability measure in the East-West Center.

But Not All Is Lost

Some of our smart classmates figured out that they had to take sustainability into their own hands–we have been trained well by the Nicholas School.  They found that they could keep the staff away from their towels by placing the Do Not Disturb sign on their doors each morning (alas, their beds were not made when they get back).  A small sacrifice to make in the name of sustainability.

East-West Center

East-West Center

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