Monday, August 8, 2011

Service vs. Sustainability

Since day one, environmental sensitivity has been a priority at Extended Horizons. Sounds corny and unbelievable, right?   Way back... in the late 1980's owner, Erik Stein, saw the potential damage to Maui's reef from boat anchors and decided to get involved and do something about it. He began working with partners from the Big Island of Hawaii and other operators on Maui, to help spearhead efforts to put permanent mooring buoys in at popular dive and snorkel sites in Maui County. As EH grew, Erik redefined the list of services offered to include Environmental Consulting when incorporating EH in the State of Hawaii in 1996. This was done with an eye on keeping the mooring program a viable part of the corporate mission so that Extended Horizons Inc. would continue to see efforts for mooring placements as integral to the company's focus.

Day-Use Mooring Buoys
help protect Maui's reefs from anchor damage.

Fast forward to Y2K... EH makes another leap toward sustainability by converting operation of our boat to 100% recycled biofuel made locally here on Maui. Just to be clear, that means our boat runs on 100% biodiesel, which is made from 100% reused vegetable oils, collected from local sources here on Maui. In fact, PADI's professional magazine, The Undersea Journal, recently highlighted EH's green efforts in an article about Going Green. The jump to biodiesel required a few modifications to the boat, and also to the warehouse for fuel storage. And yes, it does cost a bit more than regular petroleum based diesel fuel... but the feel-good aspect outweighs the costs.

Local Maui company, Pacific Biodiesel, makes our biofuel.

A few years after that, when bottled water became the norm around 2005, EH stopped serving beverages in paper cups as we had been doing since the 80's... EH has a recycling station in the warehouse for plastic bottles, aluminum, cardboard (and of course biodiesel!).

It may not be pretty to look at,
but think how much prettier to environment is because of these recycling efforts!

And now here we are in 2011... after six years of recycling thousands of individual, disposable plastic bottles, we've decided it is time for a change. We recently went through another renovation at our warehouse to update our classroom space and build out the downstairs area to accommodate a dishwasher. With a sanitizing system in place, a RO system installed, and BPA Free Nalgene bottles purchased, we are now able to serve reusable bottles to our customers... putting us one step closer to zero waste operations!

Even though EH recycled, it wasn't good enough.

It has taken a month or so for the EH Crew to streamline an organization system for each customer to have a reusable bottle, with multiple refills throughout the day... it was definitely easier to throw away (or recycle) the single-use bottles... but we think it's worth the extra effort and we hope you do too!

Use of reusable bottles like these BPA Free Nalgene,
is one way to make your own move toward sustainability!