Michelle Perdue, Honolulu, HI

“Living on an island for several months made me think about the importance of taking only what is essential from the environment and leaving the lightest carbon footprint possible,” says Michelle.

Waimanalo View, Mariner's Ridge Hawaii Kai

Although Michelle Perdue was born in the United States, she was raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she attended high school and learned to speak her second language, Spanish. After high school, she moved back to the US to study Public Administration at San Diego State University. Currently, she lives on the island of Oahu in Hawaii and works as an interpreter for the Honolulu Immigration Court.

Michelle loves staying active by combining her weekly exercise with nature: hiking, running and biking are her favorite workouts. Over the years, she has adopted many green habits in order to reduce her impact on the environment, such as embracing a healthy balanced diet, high in vegetables and low in animal products.

Koko Head Trail. Overlook: Koko Crater & KahalaMichelle also believes that breaking away from the city routine to insert yourself in the heart of nature is essential in order to maintain a healthy physical and mental state. According to her, the best part of Hawaii is its astonishing beauty and  wonderful climate, which makes it almost impossible to stay indoors. She goes on a hike to the woods, beach or mountains at least once a week. “Oahu has all of these. It always amazes me that even with such high population density, the trails here in Oahu are rarely crowded–except for touristy Diamond Head,” she explains.

In addition to the many beautiful hiking trails available, South Oahu has many running/biking paths that Michelle uses regularly. Here are her most frequent running routes, mapped out by the Running Room Hawaii:

Ala Wai Field, Kapiolani Park, Diamond Head, and Kilauea Hill.

For many years, Michelle has been incorporating different green habits into her lifestyle, such as recycling, shopping with reusable bags and buying organic produce,Hang Drying in order to reduce her impact on the environment. But after living on an island for several months, she feels even more engaged with this matter and she assures that there are many other simple practices one can adopt to use less. “I personally feel that by consuming less electricity and water, driving less, creating less waste, and eating less meat, I am helping the island a little,” she confesses. Michelle owns a car but traffic is a nightmare in Honolulu, so she prefers taking the bus to work and using her bicycle to run most of her errands, including going grocery shopping.

The following are some of Michelle’s green adjustments around the house:

  • Fluorescent bulbs→they use approximately 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb.
  • Turning lights off when leaving the roomreduces unnecessary energy consumption.
  • Using cold water to wash clothes→most of the energy consumed by your washing machine is used to heat up the water; you can reduce your laundry energy consumption up to 90% if you choose cold water.
  • Hang drying when possible→using a dryer can count for up to 15 to 20% of the total power consumed by your appliances. Hang drying saves energy, reduces noise pollution, makes your clothes smell fresher, and eases the wear and tear of your clothes.
  • Short showers, no baths→taking only short showers can save thousands of gallons of water per year per household.
  • Soaking dishes with detergent in the sink instead of letting the faucet runsoaking dishes helps to loosen the dry food that may be stuck to them and makes it easier to scrub your dishes in less time, which will reduce your water consumption.
  • Re-using plastic containers→decreases plastic waste.

Eggplant Parmesan a la Napolitana In addition to her other green habits and adjustments, Michelle’s diet is mostly vegetarian: “When one is active and into sports, it’s not practical to over eat and be stuffed, so my low calorie diet is a good way to feel energetic and go lighter on the joints. Most importantly though, I like to eat lower on the food chain,” she remarks.

Her goal is to set up a vegetable and herb garden in the front of her house, so she can eat what she grows and reduce the overall waste involved in the process of growing, distributing and packaging of produce: pesticides, transportation fuel, plastic bags, etcetera. “I also plan to use my organic waste to fertilize my garden by composting,” she concludes.

To see some of Michelle’s Eggplant Parmesan’s and vegan Carrot Cupcake’s recipes visit Your Recipes! on GSU’s Green Cuisine Menu.

Staying healthy by following a balanced diet high in plant-based foods, exercising outdoors, being a responsible consumer, and using less resources can have multiple benefits for you and the environment. Every small change over time makes a large difference! What is going to be your next small change?