What You Can Do About Climate Change

During our numerous outreach efforts to host conversations about what we do as an Office within the City & County of Honolulu, and gather perceptions from the community, we were often asked, "What can I do personally, or as a business, about climate change?" Here are a few suggestions. It certainly is not a comprehensive list, but it's a start.

at home

  • Use renewable energy in your home.
  • Install energy efficient lighting in your home; replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs.
  • Switch your shower head to a high-efficiency shower head.
  • Replace old toilets with one that uses less water.
  • Turn off your faucet while brushing your teeth or washing dirty dishes.
  • Replace your old thermostat with a programmable one that allows you to turn off the A/C when you're not home.
  • Buy less stuff, waste less stuff (Check out www.theminimalists.com/).
  • Buy in bulk or prepare food ahead of time to mitigate waste from fast food and shopping.
  • Bring your own reusable utensils, and cut back on using plastic utensils.
  • Eat less; and eat all the food you buy.
  • Eat a plant-based diet, preferably local; support your local farms.
  • Stop drinking plastic-bottled water.
  • If you garden, utilize a composter for food scraps.
  • Reduce meat consumption by 7% (about a pound).
  • Wash and reuse those plastic freezer bags, and sandwhich bags.
  • Go paperless with your bills; receive and pall all of your bills electronically.
  • Opt out of junk mail.
  • Get in the habit of having one of those lightweight, reusable tote bags in your purse or backpack.
  • And of course, reduce, reuse, recycle.

how you get around

  • Skip that flight.
  • Commute to work using public transportation, a bicycle, carshare, carpool, electric vehicle, or walk.
  • Live car-free if possible.
  • If you do have a car, check your tire pressure on a regular basis.

at work

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • Go paperless: share files via email instead of printing documents.
  • Centralize printers (no more than 1 per 10 employees).
  • Use copier/printer paper that contains at least 30% recycled content.Print 2-sided.
  • Recycle batteries, plastic bags, plastic take-out containers.
  • Properly recycle or donate unused and/or outdated electronic devices for reuse.
  • Clearly label and regularly monitor recycling bins and provide education to staff.
  • Use video conference instead of face-to-face meetings, if possible.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevators.
  • Compost food scraps.
  • Use only reusable dishware for day-today office use and special events.
  • Contract only with caterers who follow sustainable practices (reusable dishware, buffet style serving, minimal packaging, etc.)
  • Contract only with janitorial servicers who use only green-certified cleaning products.
  • Safely store and properly recycle fluorescent light tubes and compact fluorescent lightbulbs.
  • Safely store and properly recycle potentially hazardous products such as paints, solvents and cleaners.
  • Use high-efficiency electric hand dryers in restrooms vs. paper towels.

Employee Engagement

  • Create an employee green team, supported by management, to implement and monitor sustainability efforts.
  • Train new employees about sustainability best practices (including waste reduction, recycling & commuting options), and educate employees annually (annually) about sustainability best practices.
  • Create a sustainable purchasing/acquisitions policy guidebook.
  • Create a system to gather employee feedback, comments & suggestions related to sustainability actions at work.


  • Conduct an annual commute survey to promote low-carbon commuting. Track percentage of employees who walk, bike, carpool or take transit as their primary commute method.
  • Offer incentives like reimbursement, raffles, for employees who bike, walk or carpool to work.
  • Offer emergency ride vouchers or taxi reimbursements to employees who commute by foot, bike, transit or carpool.
  • Alternative travel options (bus/rail, bike parking, EV charging station, etc.) are displayed on company website for visitors. 
  • Bicycle tire repair kit, air pump and a spare lock are available for employees and visitors.
  • Employees participate in a commuter challenge every year ("Bike More", or "Drive Less").
  • Offer sheltered, secure bike parking to employees.
  • Offer a transit pass program to all employees.


  • Computers, computer monitors, printers and copiers are set to sleep after 15 minutes of inactivity.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs.
  • Lighting is dimmed or turned off when adequate sunlight is available.
  • Maintenance checks are regularly conducted on HVAC and other energy-intensive equipment.
  • Windows are double-pane or better.
  • Doors are weather-sealed.
  • Programmable thermostats automatically reduce heating and air conditioning during closed hours.
  • Occupancy sensors or timers are used for lighting in storage room, offices, restrooms and other common rooms.
  • Linear lighting uses either LED bulbs, T8 or T5 fluorescents with electronic ballasts.
  • Track and spot lighting use LEDs or CFLs.
  • Emergency EXIT lights use LED bulbs.
  • Use "smart" power strips at workstations that have 3 or more peripherals (mointor, printer, speakers, etc.).
  • Janitorial services are scheduled during business hours.
  • Water heaters are set to 120 degrees.
  • An energy audit has been conducted in your workplace within the past 5 years through either your electric utility or independent auditor.
  • Renewable energy is purchased for a portion of company electricity use.
  • Garage or parking lot lighting is energy efficient.


  • Only tap water is provided at your workplace; no water delivery service or single-serve plastic bottles.
  • Kitchen faucet aerators have a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute or less.
  • Restroom faucet aerators have a flow rate of .5 gallons per minute.
  • Your business has adopted a beach clean-up site, "clean street" or bioswale in your neighborhood.
  • A majority of your landscaping is native and drought tolerant.
  • Toilets are WaterSense-approved or use 1.28 gallons per flush or less.
  • Urinals are WaterSense-approved or use .5 gallons per flush or less.

Community Engagement

  • Sponsorhip, in-king services or products are donated to community organizations.
  • One or more employees serve a community leadership role (business association, government advisory committee, etc.).
  • A formal policy promotes contracting with women- and minority-owned businesses.
  • A social responsibility mission statement guides your work and is shared with the public.
  • Employees are allowed to volunteer in the community on paid work time.
  • A charitable giving campaign, matching funds or similar program is in place to support charitable donations by employees.