Mikala Pieper, known as Kumu Pieper, and Charles Cravalho are dedicated individuals making significant contributions to sustainability in Hawaiʻi. Kumu Pieper’s background as a UH-Hilo graduate and her commitment to preserving Hawaiian culture drive her work with Hānai Kaiāulu, which focuses on school food waste composting and recycling. She has forged vital relationships with local farms, organized workshops, and demonstrated unwavering dedication to the cause.

Charles Cravalho’s collaboration with Kumu Pieper is crucial in spreading their mission, leveraging his role as a school custodian at Waiākea High School. Together, they educate students about sustainable practices through workshops on bokashi composting and cardboard shredding.

Their innovative “Sustainable Saturdays” initiative, where cardboard is exchanged for mulch and fresh produce in a closed-loop system, not only reduces waste but also supports local farmers and fosters community service among students. This model has the potential to inspire other communities to adopt sustainability practices.

Winning a $25,000 grant and using it to purchase shredders for Oʻahu schools is a significant step toward expanding their initiative and making school food waste composting a standard practice. Their broader vision includes establishing community composting hubs and creating green job opportunities, which can positively impact the local economy.

In response to the coconut rhinoceros beetle infestation on Oahu, they’ve developed innovative solutions like sheet mulching, and compostable packaging/planting pots. These efforts not only mitigate immediate threats but also contribute to reducing plastic waste, aligning with their mission of promoting sustainability and responsible waste management.

Their team’s dedication to preserving Hawaiian culture and fostering a more environmentally conscious future is inspiring, with the potential to make a lasting impact in their communities and beyond.