Sustainability is at the root of our operations in Hawaii each and every day, but it takes the spotlight during April as we celebrate Earth Month. Our amazing employee volunteers participated in multiple Adopt-A-Highway events, cleaned up beaches, delivered donated seed-planting kits to local students and even built planter boxes and irrigation systems for the Waipahu Intermediate Agriscience Lab. This work spanned Maui, Molokai and Oahu throughout April and was driven by passionate and engaged Bayer Hawaii employee volunteers.
To further the Earth Month celebration, several Bayer team members joined Rick Hamada for two very special episodes of Sustaining Hawaii to discuss these efforts.
The April 19th episode featured Brandon Carlson and Jennifer Richie from Bayer Hawaii along with Mary Ann Kobayashi from the Genki Ala Wai Project. Brandon and Jennifer joined to share what the Bayer team on Oahu does every day to support sustainability on their farms, as well as some special events they have planned for Earth Day and Month, including their Adopt-a-Highway cleanup event on April 5.
“The Adopt-A-Highway clean-ups are something we try to do a lot,” Jennifer shared. “We also have our Oahu Green Team, which is part of a statewide initiative where like-minded people get together to try to implement really sustainable projects on site inspired by folks on site.”
“We’re always trying to act in the best interest of the land and the community,” Brandon explained. “So we have a lot of goals in place in support of those interests. Some of those are cover crops. Some of those are soil conservation, water efficiency, and diesel reduction.”
Meanwhile, Mary Ann provided an overview of how groups across the world are using bioremediation, often in the form of genki balls, to remove pollutants from bodies of water. Genki balls are simply balls of mud that contain a mixture of clay, soil, rice bran, molasses, and a solution filled with specific bacteria. When thrown into a body of water, the bacteria begin consuming and digesting sludge and harmful gases, resulting in clearer and better-smelling water.
The Genki Ala Wai project is focused on using bioremediation to restore the Ala Wai Canal to a state where it is again fishable and swimmable. On Saturday, April 22, Bayer partnered with the organization to host two volunteer genki ball-making events. More than 30 Bayer volunteers and family members came together to get their hands dirty for a great cause, forming mud balls and launching them into the canal.
“It’s so fun to get your hands in the dirt and mix everything together to make a mud ball,” Mary Ann shared. And the results speak for themselves. “It’s amazing. When you look at the Ala Wai now you can actually see the sand on the bottom. You can see where the rocks are because it’s not a dark green color anymore.”
On the April 26th episode of Sustaining Hawaii, Rick welcomed Tim Trudel and Juan Carlos (JC) Paz from Bayer Hawaii’s Maui operations along with Jennifer Learned from the Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project.
Tim, a member of Bayer’s statewide Sustainability Task Force, discussed the Maui farm’s tree-planting initiative. “It got started when I came across a Maui News Now article that detailed how the state of Hawaii pledged in 2021 to plant and protect 100 million trees before 2030. After reading this I got really excited and instantly knew I wanted Bayer to be a part of this project.” In total, Bayer employees have planted more than 300 native trees at their Maui farms in recent months, and on April 20, a group of more than 30 employees planted 30 native tees on the campus of Kihei Charter School on Maui.
JC talked about Bayer Hawaii’s new commitment to not using single-use water bottles for on-site events. “We know that plastic is a great thing. But it’s also one of the biggest problems we have, now that we’re making billions of single-use plastic items that are used for a few minutes but stay in the environment for hundreds of years,” he explains. “We want to set a good example with our employees and in the community.”
And finally, Jennifer joined the episode to share Maui Nui Seabird Recovery Project’s mission, to locate, protect and enhance seabird populations and habitats in Maui Nui. “Seabirds are very critical to the islands’ ecosystems as well as to the people who live on the islands, culturally,” Jennifer explains. “Mainly they are a huge link between the ocean and the land. When islands start to form there’s no organic nutrients in the lava. The seabirds bring the nutrients from the sea through their droppings, providing nutrients for the plants that grow and creating our entire island ecosystem. They’re very important.” Bayer is proud to be a partner of the Seabird Recovery Project.
Suffice it to say, Bayer Hawaii’s employee volunteers and partners are deeply passionate about sustainability and aim to do all they can to preserve their communities and the earth for future generations. You can read more about our commitment to sustainability here. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see what the team does next.