Made in Hawaii: Shop Sustainably for Island GiftsBy KATHRYN WAGNER
Big-box stores and online retailers are handy, but while on vacation, it’s much more interesting — and responsible — to buy with an eye toward the locally produced and eco-conscious.
Finding sustainable gifts is easy in Hawaii, as the Islands are chock-full of creators and artisans. So, whether you are bringing home little souvenirs for friends and family or shopping to treat yourself, here are a few products and places that will help you support local makers and businesses.
Sailbags Maui aims to keep all old nylon kitesurfing sails from going into landfills. Donated used sails get upcycled into durable, water-resistant totes, duffels, wristlets and handbags. The colorful products are carried at several locations in Hawaii.
Honolulu-based ‘Alohi Kai hand sculpts marine-inspired jewelry in an eco-friendly way. The company uses reclaimed silver, nontoxic polishing compounds and recycled packaging for its line of bracelets (like this alluring octopus cuff), necklaces, cufflinks and more.
Sales of its Barbless Circle Hook bracelets are donated to organizations that take care of animals harmed by fishing. To find the jewelry, visit here .
Warning: The Original Coconut Peanut Butter by North Shore Goodies is addictive. There are only two ingredients in the jar, coconuts and Hawaii Island–grown peanuts, that somehow become “I need another fix!” delicious.
Pop by the flagship shop in Haleiwa to stock up, and while there, sample yourself silly on the other flavors, too, like coffee or macadamia-nut peanut butters, as well as jams and sauces.
Local entrepreneur Jimmy Chan’s Hawaiian Chip Company makes excellent use of the sweet potatoes and taro grown on sunny Molokai, Hawaii Island and Oahu. There are irresistible flavors, like Kiawe BBQ taro chips, and the company also donates part of sales to a local research fund working to find a cure for Rett Syndrome.
Arts & Crafts
At Na Mea Hawaii, shoppers will find genuine arts, crafts, books and more that celebrate authentic Native Hawaiian and local culture. It’s also a gathering place as much as a shop, holding workshops on subjects such as lau hala weaving and Niihau shell jewelry making. Find it at Ward Village in the happening Kakaako area of Honolulu.
On Maui, the Hui Noeau Visual Arts Center — inside a beautiful Upcountry Maui historic home — offers the Gallery Shop. Browse among the jewelry, prints, glass, ceramics and other art, hand made by 75 Maui and Hawaii-based artisans.
What is it about Kauai that inspires such great wellness brands? Maybe it’s that warm, plumeria-scented air. Malie began there and has since expanded into a line of boutiques with its bath, body and home products.
Tropical scents, such as mango nectar, hibiscus and coconut, are nice; the fact that the botanically based shampoos, soaps and more are gluten-free, organic and all-natural is even better.
Up-and-coming Lau Botanicals, found mostly on Kauai (store locator here), makes skincare with local, wild-crafted ingredients like kukui nut and sandalwood. It’s already garnered the attention of British Vogue and gives a percentage of sales to support research at the Limahuli Garden and National Tropical Botanical Garden.
With so many sustainable and eco-friendly gifts on offer in Hawaii, there still might be one last thing on your shopping list: a bigger suitcase.
Sig Zane has been creating wearable art since 1985. Inspired by island plants and hula traditions, the Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner hand cuts bold designs with an X-Acto knife before printing them onto shirts and other garments for men and women. Visit the landmark Sig Zane Designs boutique in Hilo, on Hawaii Island.
Designed and largely produced in Hawaii, Kealopiko also features prints that provide indigenous references and manao (meaning) on its clothing, journals, totes and pareu. The company is a proud sponsor of charities working on land stewardship, cultural preservation and education. Find the shop in the South Shore Market, near downtown Honolulu.