Support local businesses when shopping for holidays

CHAIR'S 3 MINUTES

Thanksgiving is always an enjoyable time of year as we pause to reflect on the many blessings in our lives. I hope you ate a lot of delicious food and spent quality time with family and friends.

A new tradition that has now become synonymous with the Thanksgiving season is the hunt for bargains on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Although some deals may be hard to resist, don’t forget to make conscious shopping decisions by supporting local small businesses.

Local businesses support our Maui County economy by not only providing jobs to residents, but also helping sustain nonprofits and many other organizations right here at home.

In an effort to remind the community to shop locally, Maui County’s Office of Economic Development partnered with the Maui Chamber of Commerce to sponsor the 2017 Shop Small Maui campaign, which was held Saturday, as part of the nationwide Small Business Saturday event.

The purpose of the initiative is to not only promote small businesses for a day, but to encourage residents also to support small businesses rather than only shopping online or at national mega retailers in Maui County this holiday season.

If the community has a desire to see more local businesses showcasing local talent, an extra effort must be made to support these homegrown establishments.

This initiative follows a highly successful fourth annual Made in Maui County Festival held earlier this month, also hosted by both the Office of Economic Development and the Maui Chamber of Commerce. The event showcased over 140 product vendors and 16 Maui food trucks with an attendance of over 10,000 people.

Event organizers also reported a 65 percent increase in attendance by wholesale buyers and distributors, which is important for building relationships to create domestic and international export potential for products.

The momentum and interest in shopping local is very strong, but it must become an instinctive decision for each of us all year long.

A shopping habit that may also have to be changed in the near future is how residents and visitors purchase and use sunscreen.

The County Council is actively considering a proposal to prohibit the sale of SPF sunscreen products containing oxybenzone or octinoxate in their ingredients.

Either or both chemicals are found in many commercial sunscreens and have been linked to impacting aquatic ecosystems. These substances have likely been adding to the many factors causing coral reef degradation surrounding Maui County.

A few businesses, including some hotels, have already made efforts to reduce the use of these products. Many alternative sunscreens are also readily available to consumers without these active ingredients.

Prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with these active ingredients is also likely the most efficient way to mitigate potential impacts to the environment. Only prohibiting the use of certain types of sunscreen would be nearly impossible to enforce.

Education, especially to our visitors, will also be an important component to making this legislation work and positively impact the environment.

The full council must still consider this legislation and input is encouraged on how it may impact our community. Testimony is being accepted by email at county.clerk@mauicoun ty.us or in person.

In closing, I would like to congratulate our talented Maui athletes. Congratulations to the Lahainaluna High School varsity football team for winning the Division II state championship and also to the Seabury Hall girls cross country team for winning its sixth straight Division II and second overall state title in a row at the end of October. Imua!

* Mike White is chairman of the Maui County Council. He holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.

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