Maui author and educator Lindy Shapiro is running and biking across the state to launch Bottles for Change, a new school-based conservation initiative that challenges keiki to help reduce Hawaii’s plastic footprint. Shapiro’s coastal expedition will cover 750-miles across six-islands in 31 days. Named the holoHI (holo means to run or ride on), her unprecedented journey kicks off before sunrise on Jan. 18 in Hilo. Shapiro will then travel to Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai and Maui, where she will wrap up the holoHI February 18 with a celebration in Kahului.
Throughout the run, Shapiro will visit 20 schools statewide to spread the word about Bottles for Change (B4C), a new student-led conservation project designed to bring attention to the approximate 250,000 tons of plastic floating in oceans, destroying marine habitat and contaminating the water and food supply. Shapiro said B4C will be making school and community presentations to increase awareness and to encourage youth participation in the Bottles for Change Challenge.
Students participating in the B4C Challenge begin by finding an empty plastic bottle that has been abandoned or is headed for the landfill. This first bottle becomes the student’s “Bottle for Change.” Every time they, or someone they know, chooses NOT to buy a plastic bottled beverage and uses an environmentally friendly alternative, they put the money saved into their “Change Fund.” Once their bottle holds “$20 for Change,” they hand it in at a designated bottle drop (school office, teacher representative, community partner) to receive a B4C reusable water bottle and t-shirt, and to be entered into a raffle for great prizes. In addition to their Change Funds, participating students receive “bottle points” for the raffle every time they volunteer at a Hawaii Wildlife Fund or other B4C beach cleanup event, or complete a project from the B4C website; the campaign a collaboration with Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Island Air, LifeFoods and other local organizations.
Schools that complete the Bottles for Change Challenge will receive free environmental educational outreach programming, supplemental materials and will be recognized on the B4C website. Shapiro notes that this is just one example of the type of youth leadership and educational outreach programs that her Bodhi Education Project hopes to offer in the future. “Our ultimate goal is to build and sustain a leadership academy for integrated arts and sciences on Maui’s North Shore,” Shapiro said. “In addition to serving the Maui community, we plan to continue creating inspired educational and environmental programming like Bottles for Change that empowers youth leadership for positive, sustainable change statewide.”
Shapiro founded Bodhi Education Project in 2006. The nonprofit promotes awareness of the human experience and understanding of cultures as a means to allow people to connect with their world and, in turn, share responsibility in taking care of it.
Speaking about her physical commitment to B4C, Shapiro said, “I’ve been running FOREVER. Rain, shine, hills, flats…in sickness and in health…if you give me a day, I’ll find a way to run before the end of it. I don’t necessarily run pretty or super fast, but I manage to keep my feet untangled and find my way home. In the end, that’s all that really matters.”
Shapiro said she hopes the holoHI awareness campaign will inspire others to support vitally important conservation efforts. “Children are ‘beautifully relentless’ and have the potential to inspire us all to change, to grow, and to come together as a community,” she said.
To learn more about Bottles for Change, visit Bottlesforchange.org.
Photo: Carl Jalbert