The field of candidates running for office on Kauai remains sparse, with just a handful of hopefuls declaring their intent to run, according to the latest candidate report.
Only Councilman Mel Rapozo has officially filed for re-election, though JoAnn Yukimura has pulled papers. So far, it appears Felicia Cowden is the only person from the “red shirt” movement to be actively mulling a Council run. She just took leave from her KKCR talk show — candidates can't host shows — and was last seen sitting in Glenn Mickens' chair in the Council chambers.
And yesterday I got an email from a guy seeking to raise funds for Gary Hooser, though he hasn't yet announced that he will run.
His son, Dylan, meanwhile, is actively campaigning for Rep. Jimmy Tokioka's House seat. Neither man has submitted papers formalizing his candidacy. Dylan, who hasn't previously held office, released a one-minute video in which he gave no specifics about his campaign, goals or values, other than to say he wants to be part of all the “positive” things that are happening on Kauai.
Which perhaps includes the way he traveled to Honolulu to hold a SHAME banner in front of Tokioka's office at the Legislature earlier this year. Very effective, that. And so upbeat!
Shame seems to be a popular theme among the self-appointed “green” crowd on Kauai, with Surfrider's Gordon LaBedz happily acknowledging it's the primary tool that his group and Zero Waste Kauai are using to push businesses to use “biodegradable" take out containers.
As dutifully regurgitated by Chris D'Angelo in The Garden Island today:
“We’re trying to shame people into doing the right thing. We’re not embarrassed to say that.”
Which assumes, of course, that Gordon and Pam Burrell of Zero Waste Kauai are arbiters of “the right thing.”
Personally, I can't stand Styrofoam and never use the stuff myself. Still, there's more than a little irony in the fact that many of these biodegradable containers are made from — you guessed it — the very same GMO corn and industrial agriculture practices that Surfrider reviles.
The largest producer of PLA in the world is NatureWorks, a subsidiary of Cargill, which is the world’s largest provider of genetically modified corn seed.
Once again we're seeing the real players duking it out in the "environmental" wars: big oil vs big chem.
As for its biodegradability, as Elizabeth Royte wrote in Smithsonian (emphasis added):
PLA [polylactic acid, a plant-based industrial resin] may well break down into its constituent parts (carbon dioxide and water) within three months in a “controlled composting environment,” that is, an industrial composting facility heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and fed a steady diet of digestive microbes. But it will take far longer in a compost bin, or in a landfill packed so tightly that no light and little oxygen are available to assist in the process. Indeed, analysts estimate that a PLA bottle could take anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill.
I know we all want that perfect panacea, that snug soundbyte — like Styrofoam-free Kilauea (never mind the foam surfboards, ice chests, peanuts, etc. in people's homes and carports) — but things are just a little more complex than that.
Actually, the guy at Lighthouse Bistro got it right when he said they'd stopped take-outs altogether, to encourage folks to sit down and eat. Because simply substituting containers doesn't eliminate the many detrimental effects of our on-the-go, throw-away culture.
I've got no problem with people pushing for alternatives, encouraging businesses to change their practices, exerting consumer pressure. But when the shame game starts coming in to play, it oozes sanctimony, that holier-than-thou mentality that grates most of us the wrong way.
But we're likely to see more, because they're on a roll. First it was single use plastic bags, now it's Styrofoam, next it's bottles. As TGI reported in its interview with Pam:
If it were up to her, she would get rid of not only plastic containers but also plastic water bottles across the island.
“I don’t want to stop,” she said of the movement. “I just see so much waste. It’s just needless waste — without thinking.”
And all I could think was, what a shame that Pam didn't see the light earlier, before she and her husband, Rex, generated all that plastic sheeting, all those styrofoam peanuts and pellets, all that cardboard and construction waste, while merrily operating their interior design and contracting businesses, shame-free.