Zero Waste Hero: Charnelle

Zero Waste Hero: Charnelle

Welcome back to our Zero Waste Hero series, where we feature one of our community members and the ways they incorporate zero waste practices into their daily lives.

We truly believe that each of you are everyday heroes because:

"We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly"Anne Marie Bonneau. 

We hope that these zero waste hero blog features help you to see that small changes end up making a big impact.

Read on to get to know one of our favorite local friends here in Kailua, and to get inspired by Charnelle's story!


Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Kailua, Oahu. I've lived on Oahu for almost my entire life with the exception of Oregon for the 4 years I was attending Oregon State University. Kailua will always be home and I've always known, despite how much it has changed/will change, that this is where I want to raise my family.

Kailua used to be thriving with local families who occupied multi generations [mine included] and as the years go by, there are more kids born without local roots meaning they aren't raised with the local culture, and don't understand/speak pidgin. I'm afraid one day the ratio of non-local families to local families will be higher [if not already] and we'll slowly lose what it means to be local.

Therefore, as a native who's family only speaks pidgin, I made it an obligation to return to my hometown and raise my kids amongst locals so the culture that made Kailua doesn't die.


What are your hobbies/passions in life?

I think my greatest hobby in life [if it counts as a hobby] is traveling. I also really love tattoos. I've started a travel sleeve on my left arm filled with art from all over the world. I enjoy scrapbooking my travels. I'll create an itinerary of pages filled with maps, and details of options for where to eat, visit, and must dos. Then when the trip is over, I'll fill it with pictures and words of must remember phrases and unforgettable moments.

Although covid has put this hobby on pause, I've been able to focus on other things I enjoy doing such as climbing, skating, hiking, and laying out in the sun! I also, love thrifting and am currently learning how to sew. I'm hoping one day I'll be able to incorporate these two to create something as wonderful as a sustainable clothing line.


What first got you interested in reducing your waste/living a lower-waste lifestyle?

It wasn't until I attended Oregon State University, where every bin consisted of three bins: trash, recycle and compost. This effort was already in place when I started attending in 2007. And it wasn't until then I realized how so far behind Hawaii is with their zero-waste/sustainable efforts.

Even now in 2021 are we only seeing little changes. But ever since I moved home, I'm constantly trying to improve my sustainable efforts and being a better earth citizen, to leave this planet in a better condition than when I entered it.


In what ways do you implement zero waste practices in your life?

Besides all the popular and pretty easy ways to implement zero waste practices into your life such as reusable grocery bags, water bottle, utensils and dishware, I've also [with the help of Protea] switched from the following:

liquid shampoo --> shampoo bar

liquid body soap --> body soapbar

hand soap --> hand soap bar

dish soap --> dish soap bar

shaving cream --> shave bar

plastic razor --> leaf shave razor

toothpaste tube --> toothpaste tabs

liquid detergent --> detergent sheets

deodorant stick --> meow meow tweet deodorant paste

paper napkins --> reusable unpaper towels 

ziploc bags --> stasher bags

sunscreen tubes --> sunscreen tins

plastic q tips --> bamboo q tips

Along with this I recently started using an organic and local skincare line called Ao Organics where you have the option to purchase a refill bottle [made of glass and an aluminum cap] versus purchasing a bottle with the plastic pump every time. 

Now recycling is great, but reducing is better.. I found myself craving kombucha way too much and would collect 2-3 bottles weekly. Reducing my consumption was an option but I found a better way. Sky Kombucha, a local kombucha brewery in Waimanalo, does glass/growler fills for cheaper than what you'd find in store. Not only can my kombucha consumption continue, but I found a way to reduce instead of recycle. 

My current mission, once I'm low on toilet paper bought bulk from Costco that's wrapped in plastic [terrible I know], I'm going to look into more sustainable TP options. 

As much as possible, I'll try avoid using the car and opt to walk, skate or bike instead. Every week Zoom, my car, will sit for about 2-3 days. When traveling for work, I'll carpool once a week when scheduled for similar times with coworkers who live nearby.

I thrift. 90% of my wardrobe was purchased from goodwill. The other 10% of clothes bought brand new are from companies who ethically source their materials and implement sustainable efforts such as Patagonia and Prana.

90% of my furniture/home goods were found on offerup/facebook marketplace/goodwill or built from scrap wood while 10% includes artwork made by friends and items bought brand new [as a last resort].

I'm also vegan, which isn't a zero waste practice, but more so a lifestyle where my body, heart, mind and conscious feel most at peace.

I'm still learning and growing into the best earth citizen I can possibly be, so if anyone else wants to offer advice/suggestions, please feel free to reach out - @payellenrahc on Instagram.


What is your favorite zero waste swap or tip?

The best advice I can give us to shop secondhand whenever you can. Especially on Oahu, where a a good portion of our population is military, who are constantly on the move, you'll end up with some really nice, barely used items for cheap.

And most importantly, shop Protea. I found so many items there I didn't think could be made sustainably, yet here they are. And if you don't know Lori, girl does her research! So you can trust that every product in that store was picked with the utmost care for us, the consumers.

Mahalo for taking the time to get to know me,

Charnelle aka Char

A big MAHALO to Charnelle Yap for sharing with us! You can reach out to Charnelle & follow along the sustainability journey @payellenrahc on Instagram!