Posted in Kauai Visitor Information

Leave Only Footprints

Footsteps in the Sand-Final 2
Hanalei Beach Park – photo source: TRR Photography

Despite the recent media attention around announcements like Starbucks’s self-imposed ban on straws and other Fortune 500 Companies jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon, the reality is that they actually are late to the party. For it was a 19th Century Native American, Chief Seattle (yes, the namesake of the City of Seattle, WA), who is attributed with promoting the movement to: Leave only footprints. While silent on the subject of straws (invented in 1888, some 20-years after his death), I am sure The Chief did not want us leaving those on our beaches or in our oceans.

On Kauai, even before the 2011 law passed requiring retail establishments to provide recyclable or reusable bags to customers, many had been practicing and supporting sustainable tourism for years. In fact, there is a strong community dedicated to Eco-tourism. I will never forget a trip to WalMart some years ago that had me making more than one trip to the car after shopping there. Lesson learned: If you want your purchases bagged, plan to bring your own boxes or bags. Or, bring the whole clan for “carry-out.” Likewise, more restaurants and eateries are using biodegradable take-out containers in spite of the higher cost to do so.

Since purchasing The Dolphin Hale in 2004, my husband and I have continued to move the needle into the green zone ourselves. By offering accommodations featuring energy efficient appliances and systems as well as eco-friendly furnishings and amenities, we hope to support sustainable tourism. With over a million tourists visiting Kauai annually–and that number growing–today is the day for everyone who steps foot on the Garden Isle to be reminded of Chief Seattle’s words:

Earth does not belong to us; we belong to earth. Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints. - Chief Seattle

Moreover, you and yours can actually help to preserve and support Kauai just by doing little things during your visit. Here are a handful of examples:

  • When making your Rental Car reservations, think “Carpool.” You can even add a second driver to your contract and eliminate the need and expenditure for a second auto altogether.
  • Purchase Island Grown and Made Products – Farmer’s Markets are a great way to do both!
  • When you do go to a grocery store or the like, take advantage of the reusable bags stocked for guest use in The Dolphin Hale.
  • Beach-combing is fun, but please leave ‘found’ items on the beach. We often find pieces of coral and shells inside the house. Things that could be supporting wildlife.
  • Even one of the wettest places on earth has a need to conserve potable water–consider showering with your partner!

I didn’t say having fun and reducing your carbon footprint were mutually exclusive. And, yes, enjoy that frappuccino sans the straw!

Malama ‘Aina (Care for the Land) ~ Aunty Tammy


Tammy Russell-Rice is a Certified Professional Photographer who calls both Las Vegas and Kauai home. For the past 15 years, Tammy and her husband, Clayton, have owned and operated The Dolphin Hale--a successful Kauai North Shore vacation rental. In the process, she has become somewhat of an expert on all things island and enjoys sharing her insight. Whether you just want to enjoy an island vacation and own a camera, or are thinking of purchasing your own island home, this blog is for you!

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