In Hawaii, it’s easy to overlook a lot of things. When you’re sipping a Mai Tai or authentic shave ice before a backdrop of sea, palm trees, verdant hills, and clear skies, getting lost in the moment is almost mandatory.
However, if and when you snap out of your tourist coma, you’d be wise to pay a little attention to who you’re doing business with. Your buying habits don’t have to support the big box outfits and ubiquitous ABC Stores, even though you’re on holiday. Save some love and loot for these standout local businesses.
There’s no such thing as too many options for ice-cold treats. OnoPops is a Kauai-based operation specializing in frozen pops made from natural ingredients.
The company touts 75 flavors, ranging from Lilikoi Cheesecake to Hawaii Coffee Latte. Even better, OnoPops sources natural ingredients from area farmers, propping up the local agricultural economy while showcasing outstanding indigenous flavors.
This collaborative Honolulu gallery spotlights local art while aiding local businesses and non-profits. Since 2001, the hub has been a central gathering place for significant exhibits as well as screenings and seminars. It’s run by artists and is a big reason why the Chinatown area of Honolulu has become such a draw of late. If you wish to get a real feel of the creative pulse of Hawaii, this is a must. The ARTS also houses local artists, offers classes for Hawaiian youth, and is deeply invested in its neighborhood.
There are plenty of options in Hawaii for renting gear and learning to tame a wave. Why not support Maui’s first B-Corp? Hawaiian Paddle Sports is set in the enchanting small town of Kihei, just paces away from teal waters and some decidedly epic aqua-adventure opportunities.
The company focuses on a new charity, organization or community group each month, donating funds as well as preaching the importance of the cause at hand. Partners have included the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Pu’u Kukui Watershed, among others. In 2017, the company raised more than $30,000 for area organizations, logging close to 700 volunteer hours en route.
Committed to organic and responsibly grown crops, Hawaiian Ola is looking after the land. The B-Corp is taking a holistic approach to producing its assortment of certified organic beverages, which range from coffee leaf tea to sparkling noni. No ingredient is too small to be simply imported. Ola looks to Kauai-grown ginger, sea salt from Molokai, and honey from the Big Island. And it’s sensitive to how these ingredients come to be, pushing for crops that make sense in their environment and don’t rely on chemicals or other dramatic and disturbing environmental inputs.
On top of having some of the best beer in the archipelago, Maui Brewing Company also has one of the most sustainable stances. The state’s largest craft brewery is leading by example, positioned to run completely on off-the-grid power by the end of this year
A Big Swell IPA — or one of the company’s sodas, if you’re going dry — tastes all the better knowing what the company stands for. With a brewery in Kihei, three restaurants to speak of, and solid distribution, it’s pretty easy to find Maui Brewing’s work.
Flight shame is real and valid, the Germans even have a term for it. That said, some airlines are better than others. On top of practically guaranteed great service and unlimited Pog, Hawaiian Airlines also operates out of relatively green-minded offices, keeps recycling as a theme of its mindset, and looks to limit jet fuel usage while taxiing. Plus, it’s just an enjoyable experience, not simply because your destination is Hawaii but because the staff seems content and you’re rarely hit with the fees and headaches that seem to plague most other airlines.
What started as a tiny Vietnamese sandwich shop in 1984 has become one of the state’s most celebrated bakeries. La Tour Bakehouse specializes in community outreach in addition to tasty breads.
The company has partnered with the likes of Aloha Harvest and the YMCA of Honolulu over the years. It has also looked more closely at greener energy sources, such as solar panels for some of its processing facilities. If you can’t get to the original, much of La Tour’s goods can be found at farmers’ markets and retailers in the area, not to mention the many Ba-Le shops that dot the islands.
The chances are good that while in Hawaii, you’re going to want to bring home some new threads. Or, even if you can’t make the trip, you may want to look like you did. Enter Kealopiko, a clothing company that has reimagined Hawaiian fashion since its founding in 2006. Forget cheesy Tiki shirts or surf wear made somewhere else far, far away. This outfit uses small local workshops to put together a sharp lineup of tees, polos, and accessories for men, women, and kiddos. And it writes respectable checks to local organizations looking to preserve Hawaiian culture and the land it operates atop.
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