Bishop Museum’s commitment to conserving some of the rarest treasures and species on the planet extends beyond conservation, collections, and science. We strive to make sustainability a core component of our mission. We are committed to change by taking action and instituting sustainable practices throughout our organization.
As the primary source of Pacific-based knowledge that inspires solutions for a sustainable future, Bishop Museum is committed to protecting the environment and reducing its footprint by implementing sustainable actions. We are also developing and delivering sustainability curriculums, programs, and exhibits.
“He aliʻi ka ʻāina; he kauā ke kanaka—The land is chief; man is its servant.” This can be interpreted as, “land has no need for man, but man needs the land and works it for a livelihood” and as such, it is our duty, our obligation, our kuleana, to care for it.
– ʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings
Bishop Museum is a single-use, plastic-free campus as of December 2019. We switched out all our food service and vending machine beverages from plastic bottles to aluminum cans, and we added water bottle refilling stations throughout the campus.
For food items, we eliminated individual single-use plastic bagged snacks in our gift shop and café, removed all single-use plastic bagged snacks in our Human Resource’s Pantry, and switched to eco-friendly packaged products.
The effort to remove single-use plastics is immense, as plastics are inevitably everywhere in our lives, but committing to eliminating them is just one small way to keep them out of our landfills, oceans, beaches, neighborhoods, and trails.
Shipping Green: Minimum Waste, Maximum Aloha
As part of an institution-wide initiative, Bishop Museum Press now uses recycled or repurposed “second-life” packaging materials wherever possible. We also invite our customers to join in by choosing to recycle or give a “third life” to shipping boxes and other single-use plastics.
To coincide with our sustainable initiatives, we have emphasized the importance of integrating environmental and social responsibility issues into event planning for both our museum programming and educating external partners renting our facilities.
Sustainable events efforts include steps such as providing locally sourced foods and using caterers who also source locally, using compostable serveware , thinking of eco-friendly, natural decorations, encouraging guests to BYOB (bring your own bottle), and optimizing waste management.
We also created a process to collect and return lei containers/bags from our events. We have found tremendous support from the lei shops for gifting these resources back to them for a continued life versus throwing them away.
Having a more sustainable approach can make events more rewarding and worthwhile for both the planner and attendee. View our Sustainable Events document for more information.
We continue to seek guidance from some of the leading sustainability partners within our community. By doing so we are able to collaboratively work together to educate kamaʻāina, our staff, and visitors on the importance of the efforts of the many sustainability organizations we work with including:
Programs & Activities
- Science & Sustainability Festival
Annual event held in March
Highlighting the importance of actively caring for our unique and diverse natural environments in Hawaiʻi, as well as what we can do in the urban and built landscapes to protect and preserve the Hawaiʻi we call home.
- Sustainability Scavenger Hunt
Challenges guests to explore the Museum campus and learn about our commitment to demonstrating change by identifying elements of sustainable practices we use on-site.
- Pau Hana Pū Kākou Seminar Series
A bi-weekly livestream program featuring researchers, collection managers, and community affiliates, promoting engagement in conversations on a wide range of topics related to culture, science, sustainability and history in Hawai‘i and the Pacific.
Our hopes in offering these types of programs and activities are to inspire visitors to gain understanding of and acknowledge the importance of sustainable practices in their daily lives, learn ways in which they can implement action, and to share that knowledge with others.
Digital Membership Cards
In efforts to conserve paper and be more waste-conscious. Bishop Museum Membership will be launching a digital membership card Fall 2021!
Members will have the opportunity to opt-in immediately, or anytime following launch. After launch, members will be automatically enrolled in digital cards at their next renewal. Digital membership cards will not only help us save paper, and postal transportation, but will be accessible instantaneously and will make updating your membership profile easy.
- 25% of members download and opt in to digital cards by December 31, 2021,
- 50% of members have opted in to digital cards by march 2022
- 75% of members have opted in to digital cards by June 2022
- 100% of members have opted in to digital cards by September 2022
How else can Bishop Museum ʻOhana Members help us conserve on resources?
- Sign up for auto-renew
Opt-in to auto-renew so that your annual renewal is automated and you can skip the mailed reminders. We will email you when your annual payment is coming up. Cancel at any time.
- Renew early and renew online
When you renew early and renew online, we can cut back on renewal reminder correspondence, and keep our mailed correspondence with members limited to items like our printed Ka ‘Elele journal and event invitations!
- Check in with digital tickets
When members reserve their admission or event tickets, they have the option to pull up their tickets on their smart phone and scan for entrance as an alternative to printing tickets.
Employee Sustainability Hui
Change happens best when it first happens within. Working with dedicated representatives from our own team of employees, we created a Sustainability Hui which meets bi-monthly to see how we can implement changes within our own offices to continue adopting sustainable practices across our campus.
Many collaborative initiatives have come from this, including our Bishop Museum Press using repurposed packing materials for shipping out their products; the lei container and bag return; and our employee snack pantry switching to more eco-conscious products.
The most valuable achievement of our Hui has been getting people to think about how to make better environmentally sound choices at work and at home.
Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation
In 2020 Bishop Museum became part of the Hawaiʻi Energy EmPOWER cohort to improve our energy efficiency provisions on our campus.
Through workshops and rebates offered by Hawaiʻi Energy in 2021, we began implementation of the following projects to improve our energy efficiency and reduce our energy consumption:
- Installation of smart plugs to turn off electrical appliances when not in use
- Replacing existing refrigerators and freezers with new ENERGY STAR efficient appliances
- Replacing existing light fixtures with energy efficient LED bulbs
To reduce the volume of water we use per year, we only irrigate our lawn and garden areas when necessary, and time our irrigation to commence in the early morning to reduce evaporation. We have also set up a dashboard to monitor our water usage to identify peak times of use, and identify potential leaks or issues in our systems.
Bishop Museum has engaged in ethnological and biological studies in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands for over 100 years. Our collections, biological specimens, library of published and unpublished documents, biodiversity databases, and staff expertise make it an unparalleled source of knowledge on the Pacific Basin.
Our 15-acre campus has undergone many different plantings of species through its over 130-year history. As holders of the largest and most comprehensive collection of Hawaiian and tropical Pacific Island plant specimens, our botany collection of herbarium specimens is one of the most significant resources for research on the native, naturalized, and cultivated Hawaiian flora.
Our herbarium provides essential reference material for identifying newly introduced species. With this in mind, we have been making significant efforts to remove any non-native plants across campus and only plant and cultivate native and Polynesian-introduced species.
To learn more about Native Species, visit:
Bishop Museum Botany
Bishop Museum hosts 720 solar panels across campus, housed in four locations: the roofs of Kōnia building, Pauahi building, the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center (SAC), and a ground mount behind SAC.
These panels produce 280,000 kWh of energy annually—enough to power a refrigerator for 432 years (54 kWh/month), or fully charge 7,000 electric vehicles (40kWh per charge)! The panels provide up to 33% of the energy used in the Science Adventure Center and up to 10% of our total campus usage.
We are constantly looking for ways in which to engage our employees, visitors, and community on how to be better facilitators of the ʻāina. Check back often to see the new initiatives and efforts we are engaging in, as well as progress on our current initiatives, and feel free to reach out directly with any engagement opportunities.
Bishop Museum Curator of Sustainability, Chris Hobbs
Bishop Museum is committed to protecting the environment and reducing our footprint by implementing sustainable actions for our future. As a single-use plastic-free campus, we ask our visitors to remember to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle.