Mr. K's is holding a one-day Electronic Recycling Collection Event in Waimea:
Electronics such as TVs, computers (laptops & desktops), tablets, printers and cameras will be accepted. Here's the full list of what's accepted and not accepted for recycling.
Businesses, government agencies and nonprofits need to schedule an appointment in advance. Contact Mr. K's.
Mr. K's will pay for these items:
We're looking forward to holding a collection event in Waimea again after a long time!
It started with divine inspiration. Lauren Blissett was struck by an urgency to find an alternative home for all the plastic bottle caps that end up in the landfill here on the Big Island. She had no idea what she was going to do with them, or why it had to be bottle caps. But the message was very clear: just do this.
Her collection of bottle caps fit into a small bag, as her family doesn’t drink that many bottled beverages. But one day as she was driving past Mr. K’s Recycle & Redemption Center, the steering wheel seemed to turn by itself. Suddenly, there she was, surrounded by plastic bottles and caps. A regular customer who often brought her HI5's to Mr. K's, Lauren wasn't sure how to frame her request to instead take something away. “I was like, could I stand there with a separate trash can?” she recalled. The handler wasn’t sure, and referred her to Connie Bee, one of the office staff. Connie agreed, and Lauren’s collection of bottle caps began to grow.
Caps Can Be Pretty Gross
Several weeks or months might pass between when a beverage was consumed, when a customer brought their containers to Mr. K’s, and when Lauren picked them up from Connie. By the time she brought them to her aunt’s house in Puna, they were pretty gnarly. “I didn’t want to touch them with my hands,” she admitted.
She devised a four-step cleaning process in her aunt’s garden, which involved soaking the caps in buckets of different concentrations of bleach, rinsing them with a high-powered hose, and then drying them out on a shower curtain and later a door screen laid over a pair of sawhorses. Each soaking lasted two to three days, and the whole process lasted two weeks.
By the time one batch reached the final stage, Mr. K’s would call to say she could pick up another. “Connie would ask what I was doing with all these caps,” Lauren said, “and I would say it’s for an art project, but really, I had no idea.” Months passed and her pile of caps grew.
From Landfill to Art
In late July, Lauren and her son attended a workshop to make jellyfish out of plastic bottles at the Volcano Art Center (VAC) by visiting Māori artist and environmental activist George Tamihana Nuku. The exhibit featured beautiful sea creatures constructed out of single-use plastics and styrofoam. George and the VAC had planned a large-scale art installation engaging the community in creating art to “explore our changing oceans and changing identities due to the proliferation of single-use plastics in our modern world” (VAC). Titled Changing Oceans: Changing Minds, George had envisioned a symbolic map of Hawai`i Island surrounded by plastic marine life and sea birds, but hadn’t yet decided what the map would be constructed of. Then his and Lauren's paths crossed, and she was put in charge of creating a map of bottle caps.
George and some other community volunteers bound together layers of donated styrofoam used in packaging and, together with another volunteer with degrees in art and geography, sculpted it into a relief map of the island. Then it was layered with plaster filler and a base coat, and Lauren painted it charcoal with white at the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Meanwhile, George was holding workshops with school groups, during which keiki sorted the bottle caps by color and pounded nails into them.
Lauren Blissett paints the styrofoam relief map in an outdoor workspace at the Volcano Art Center.
The lively color scheme of the map is laughingly described by Lauren as more “artistic” than literal, having been somewhat dictated by bottle cap availability. She had initially planned to do the map entirely in shades of green, but there weren’t enough caps. Big Island residents seem to drink a lot of Gatorade, as there were multitudes of orange caps, which together with some black caps, were used to suggest some lava flows, though not exactly. Blue caps depicted river placements, with an outline of blue to suggest the ocean, as well as to free up some needed green caps. The end creation is lively and familiar, while also encouraging viewers to discover their own associations.
The island in process, with boxes of color-sorted caps with nails.
Ending Single-Use Plastic by Changing How We See Its Value
Aside from the fun and creativity of the community project, Lauren was deeply inspired by George’s philosophy. “His perspective is that ultimately plastic is made using petroleum, which is very old and comes from deep inside the earth,” she explains, which gives it a sense of sacredness and divinity, almost like our kūpuna (elders). “The issue isn’t plastic itself, but the way we value it. We see plastic as disposable – just use it one time and throw it away. We don’t see all the possibilities of what you can do with plastic after you finish your drink,” Lauren said. “It’s the same with styrofoam.”
“We must transform our relationship with plastic and the environment if we want to preserve our environment,” George explained.
In an article exploring George's work, Karen Jacobs goes deeper into how George wants to end the single use of plastic by demonstrating the “divinity of plastic(s)” through using plastic in his creations. In addition to community engagement, George Tamihana Nuku, who is of Māori descent, has also created contemporary responses in plastic of historic Māori objects on display at the University of Cambridge.
Visit the Volcano Art Center to see Lauren Blissett’s bottle cap map and experience Changing Oceans: Changing Minds by George Nuku. Hurry! The exhibition ends on September 10th, after which time it will find a more permanent home at the Keiki Science Museum in Kona.
In August 2023, Mr. K's owner and manager, Roy Kadota, had a chance to see an exhibit called "The Art of Trash & Trashion Show" featured at Maui Mall. Organized by Mālama Maui Nui, the event is an annual, juried exhibition that inspires the Maui community to "reimagine discarded resources as elements for creative inspiration." Entries are original work by Maui artists using recycled and/or reused materials, and are judged by transformation of material, craftsmanship and overall creativity.
In the spirit of rethinking how we value things considered as "trash," Roy wanted to share some of these pictures. Enjoy!
Beginning Monday, April 17, though Sunday, April 23, there will be a mix of virtual presentations and in-person activities at the UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College campuses and in our community. Join a multitude of events, both in person and online, celebrating our relationship with Honua -- our Earth, sustainability, and our profound sources of sustenance.
Learn more (PDF flyer) or register.
As this year's Earth Day approaches on Saturday, April 22nd, we're reminded that our everyday acts of redeeming our HI5 beverage containers or recycling our scrap metals are part of a global "one billion acts of green."
This year's Earth Day theme, "Invest in Our Planet," communicates the importance of dedicating our time, resources and energy to solving environmental issues and the best way to pave a path towards a healthy, happy and wealthy communities worldwide.
Looking for ways to add your efforts to the "billion acts of green" this April 22nd? Here are a few ideas:
As a new member of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC), owner Roy Kadota and team attended and sponsored a booth at the Chamber's annual meeting at the Fairmont Orchid on Friday, June 24th. After providing electronic device collection in West Hawai`i for several years, the KKCC in-person gathering was a welcome chance to connect and re-connect. Roy also had a chance to meet Governor David Ige (above left), who was the guest speaker.
You and your family can be a part of malama ka `aina, caring for our land, through the Aloha+ Challenge. This is a statewide effort to achieve Hawai`i's social, economic, and environmental goals by 2030. Check out the many cool data sets!
Even more, you can join the Hawai`i Island Aloha+ Challenge. Your 'ohana can reduce your environmental impact and also save money (Yeah!) through a few simple and everyday actions. You can also create teams with other folks from your school, work, church or other groups, and care for our land together.