Staying at a Hilo hotel will help make the island a cleaner place thanks to a partnership with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund.
The Soul Community Planet Hotel in Hilo — formerly the Hilo Seaside Hotel — opened on June 1 and immediately launched the Pristine Makai program, which partners with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund to clear marine debris from the south shores of the island.
Soul Community Planet is a chain of eco-hotels that began in 2020 focused on minimizing ecological impacts and revitalizing the environment.
“Instead of getting Hilton Honors Points or something when you stay here, we help to make the world a better place,” said SCP CEO Ken Cruse.
As part of this effort, the Pristine Makai program donates one dollar to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund for every stay at the SCP Hilo Hotel, which is roughly the cost needed to clean 2.2 pounds of trash from the island’s south shores.
“The typical hotel guest in America generates about 2.2 pounds of waste per night,” Cruse said, adding that SCP hotels try to curb the amount of waste generated by eliminating items such as single-use plastics.
By working with the Wildlife Fund, Cruse said SCP can offset the ecological impact of hotel stays even further.
“We know that we can’t just hop in a truck and drive down to the beaches and try to clean up garbage on our own,” Cruse said. “If we did, we would have the best of intentions, but we’d probably make more problems.”
Megan Lamson, board president for the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, said the partnership is a boon for an organization that has largely relied upon grant funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“We’re never really sure about long-term, sustainable funding,” Lamson said. “So for us to get a source of funding outside of that, it’s a win-win for both of us.”
Because of the nature of Pacific Ocean currents, the south shores of the Big Island often receive a large amount of detritus from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an enormous accumulation of garbage drifting about the Pacific Ocean. Lamson said the Wildlife Fund has removed 300 tons of debris from the Big Island since 2003, she said.
“By cleaning trash, we’re really only treating the symptoms,” Cruse said. “What we’re really hoping to do is build awareness of the root causes of the problem, which is this overly wasteful behavior.”
Other SCP initiatives include a program that provides 24 hours of electricity for families caring for critically ill children, and a program that plants a tree in deforested areas for every stay at an SCP hotel. Staying at SCP Hilo will support both of these programs and Pristine Makai, but Cruse said Pristine Makai is exclusive to SCP Hilo.
Cruse said the Pristine Makai program has no end date and will continue indefinitely. In the meantime, he said SCP is looking to expand elsewhere in Hawaii.
“Hawaii is such a beautiful place, it fits so well with the ethos of what we want to do,” Cruse said.