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Sustainability Partner: Josh Gonzalez
(Parley for the Oceans)

Cover Image: Josh catching some of the summer south swell in Honolulu.

Image: Josh carrying microplastic sand sifters at Wāwāmalu Beach cleanup during World Oceans Week.

Who are you, how did you get to Hawaiʻi, and what does your organization do?

My name is Josh Gonzalez, and I moved to Hawaiʻi in 2010 to connect to my roots and be closer to my Hawaiian family. I now work as the Parley AIR Station Manager for Parley for the Oceans. Parley for the Oceans is a nonprofit that focuses on protecting the oceans from major threats. One of the main ways this mission is achieved is by bringing together leaders, thinkers, artists, and so many more to converse about the beauty and fragility of the oceans.

Why is sustainability important to you and your organization, in Hawaiʻi, and globally?

Growing up on Oʻahu instilled in me the great importance of protecting the environment. Environmental issues like plastic pollution, coral reef bleaching, and overfishing have always been prominent and maintained a looming presence in my upbringing. To curb the impacts of these issues and understand them more, I completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Natural Resource and Environmental Management, leading me to work with Parley for the Oceans.

The problem of plastic pollution impacts Hawaiʻi and the whole world. Plastics wash onto the beaches of coastal communities worldwide every day. Parley for the Oceans views plastic as a design flaw and a sustainability nightmare. Not only are plastics made of fossil fuels, a limited natural resource, but they are toxic to the environment and are harmful to animals and humans alike.

What sustainability projects have you been working on with Bishop Museum?

The Parley AIR Station at Bishop Museum has been collecting plastic from the Museum campus and from beach cleanups all over Hawaiʻi to create art that brings awareness to the plastic pollution problem. Marine debris is sorted, shredded, and melted into moulds, creating bricks and carabiners as art to highlight the issue of plastic pollution and encourage consumers to avoid plastic products whenever possible.

If we continue to buy and use plastic at the same rate we do now, we will never be able to keep the pollution under control no matter how many cleanups we do. It’s like bailing a sinking canoe with a hole in it. We need to plug the hole before bailing out the water will be effective. This is why spreading awareness by promoting conservation through education is so important.

Image: Josh MCing at the Parley AIR Station during a Sunset Session.

What future projects do you and your organization have planned?

At the AIR Station, we plan to continue implementing our A.I.R. Strategy: avoiding single-use plastics, interception of marine debris from the environment, and redesigning the plastic economy. We also plan to continue to engage with the community through events like yoga sessions and Sunset Sessions, held the second Friday of every month on Bishop Museum campus.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

When I’m not working, I love spending my time in the water, surfing, and diving.

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