“The Hawaiian word mauō, for sustainability, is made up of two basic words; mau, stability, unbroken continuity, and ō, enduring in a heathy state. This new Hawaiian word was coined. . . in 2016. Formerly, there was no need for the word mauō because it was a normal part of Hawaiian life.”     – U. of Hawaii

At Maui Eco Retreat, we value sustainability every step of the way. From our clean power sources to our organic gardens, we pride ourselves on our dedication to a better future and a healthier planet. We strongly believe in the transformative healing power of nature — That’s why when you visit us, you will feel the time and care we put into preserving, honoring, and caring for this sacred land. 

Ecotourism

What is Eco-Tourism?

Eco-tourism is about connecting conservation, community, and sustainable travel. It meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future. As champions for eco-tourism, Kutira and Raphael believe in responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improve the well-being of local people.

Redesigning Tourism
Eco-tourism is especially important in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The One Planet Network, which is part of the UN Environment Programme, states that “This crisis has highlighted both the fragility of the natural environment and the need to protect it, as well as the intersections of tourism economics, society and the environment like nothing before in history.” 2020 has hit our economy hard, putting an abrupt stop to all visitors and tourism. However, prior to then, we hit the ceiling with over 66,000 visitors arriving daily just on Maui, taxing our environment heavily. Something needed to change. We realized what a jewel we had built: a refuge for responsible travelers. 

The opportunity to redesign tourism is particularly poignant in Hawaii, where so much of the economy revolves around the constant flow of tourists. According to Pauline Sheldon, professor emerita in the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management, “this is a chance for Hawai‘i and all destinations to ask the question again: ‘What is a quality visitor?’ It is not necessarily the highest spender (as it is often defined), but one whose values match those of the host culture, those who are more mindful and respectful of our island home.” 

Principles
We believe that those who implement and participate in responsible tourism activities will follow the following ecotourism principles:

– minimize impact
– build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
– provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
– provide direct financial benefits toward further conservation efforts.
– provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people
– raise sensitivity to the host country’s political, environmental, and social climate

If you are called to support ecotourism and offset your carbon footprint, we suggest that you donate to and also strive to reduce your footprint with simple daily choices:

Support a Sustainable Hawaii
If you have a little money to donate, please support organizations that are working on the frontlines of the environmental crisis:

– Maui Tomorrow
Sierra Club Hawai’i
Hawaiian Conservation Alliance
Maui Ocean Center
Mālama Maui Nui
Save Hana Coast

Organic Gardens

ʻĀina Momona

Welcome to our “Aina Momona.” “Aina” means land in Hawaiian and “Momona” means abundant. As you enter our gardens, listen to the sacred land itself, as there is wisdom in each step you take. This wisdom lives in the trees, soil, plants, and many insects that inhabited this land long before humans arrived to build here.

When we first bought this beautiful land, it was just a piece of dense jungle with no roads, water, or electricity. The first eight years were focused on clearing and planting before we even began to think about housing. We planted structural bamboo and eventually incorporated this lumber into our sustainable buildings. Now, many years later, we have abundant, fruitful gardens that are ever-changing and expanding. These gardens feed our community and are one of the ways we give back to this sacred land.

Permaculture is a set of principles that integrates people into Nature’s design. It supports the vision that all people can live in mutually enhancing relations with the Earth, and it is upon this principle that our retreat was created. You can apply permaculture techniques to farming, energy and water systems, green building, and healthy communities. Take a stroll through our gardens, and if you feel called to, dig your hand into the precious soil. Pluck some weeds or smell some of the herbs. Dance or celebrate with a song for the plants.

In our organic vegetable garden, you can enjoy fresh herbs and delicious greens for healthy living. In our innovative agroforestry garden, you can enjoy a bounty of native Hawaiian staples, such as kalo (taro), bele (Tongan spinach), and papaya. As you stroll across our land, you can treasure-hunt for jewels in our orchards, which offer tropical fruits such as strawberry guava, guava, papaya, lilikoi (passionfruit), banana, avocado, longan, breadfruit, pineapple, coconut, and more.

Agroforestry Garden

Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways based on an understanding of ecosystem services, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. As Hawaii imports over 85% of its food, we felt food security was quickly becoming a priority. In 2019 we established our Agroforestry garden, a land use management system in which food trees and shrubs are grown aside jungle trees, to work towards our goal of becoming food secure. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has varied benefits, including increased biodiversity, reduced erosion, and carbon drawdown. Our garden draws on the wisdom of native Hawaiians and gives a bounty of staple foods, such as kalo (taro), okinawan spinach, and sugarcane. Come join us and explore this beautiful garden, abundant in fruits, staple foods, and native plants. 

Our long term vision is to be not only sufficient with our natural resources, but also to create food security and feed our community. We aim to reduce the footprint created from importing the majority of island food by putting our feet, hands, and hearts into the fertile soil. If you would like to harvest or learn what you can eat from our agroforestry garden, please make an appointment.

The opportunity to redesign tourism is particularly poignant in Hawaii, where so much of the economy revolves around the constant flow of tourists. According to Pauline Sheldon, professor emerita in the University of Hawaii School of Travel Industry Management, “this is a chance for Hawai‘i and all destinations to ask the question again: ‘What is a quality visitor?’ It is not necessarily the highest spender (as it is often defined), but one whose values match those of the host culture, those who are more mindful and respectful of our island home.” 

Chickens

Chickens are a staple of permaculture. Whether urban or rural, these helpful animals provide a variety of services. In our case, they produce wholesome, organic, hormone-free eggs that we harvest. They also help till the land in preparation for planting. The jungle is dense here in Maui, and our chickens are adept at weeding! As one area becomes ready for planting, we move their large fenced area to another location where they have fresh land to roam, and thus continue the process of soil building and compost production.

Clean Energy

Conserving Water

Our water is rainwater that comes from the slopes of the Haleakala, filtered through underground porous rock for about 25 years to naturally enhance it with life-giving minerals. Our 450 foot well then pumps our delicious, pure, and alkaline water from the volcanic aquifer for you to enjoy. Here you will become a water connoisseur. 

Our gardens are watered by way of rain catchment, through ponds and water tanks. We do not use any agricultural chemicals in maintaining our beautiful grounds, and we use only non-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaning products for housekeeping and laundry.

Clean Power
We are off the grid and powered by the sun—our electricity comes entirely from solar panels. Sometimes the sky is cloudy for days on end, and our solar powered system runs too low. We then run our generator using bio-diesel, which is fuel made from vegetable oil. Bio-diesel is now becoming a popular fuel for diesel cars around the island. Some bio-diesel engines run on specially converted vegetable oil, and some run on filtered cooking oil (think huge vats of french fry oil from the local fast food joint). Bio-diesel runs much cleaner than petroleum and comes from fast-growing sources such as corn, sunflower, and hemp oil.

Reduce & Reuse

Compost

We strive for zero waste from our land. We reduce our garbage to a minimum: food leftovers are separated for the chickens, worms and the compost. The eggshells are dried and ground up to supplement the earth. The coffee grinds and paper from the office are fed to the earthworms. We do not use any chemicals in maintaining our beautiful grounds, and instead use our rich, fertile compost.

Compost is much more than fertilizer or mulch. It can enhance food nutrition, increase crop yields, strengthen the immune system of plants, increase the soil’s water holding capacity, clean our water, and even help reverse climate change. Compost stimulates plant growth by bringing vital nutrients to depleted soils. When leaves fall to the ground, or an animal dies in nature, that material is broken down by trillions of microbes, introducing necessary carbon and essential nutrients to the soil. Microbes feed the plants, which in turn feed the microbes, effectively creating a self-generating system that builds healthier soil over time. This leads to an abundance of life, biodiversity and flourishing ecosystems. More plant life means less carbon in our atmosphere. Not only that, but healthy soil retains and saves more water, one of our most precious resources.

In the United States, 60 billion pounds of food material is sent into the landfills each year — which means over 50% of trash in the U.S. is compostable material. Food scraps, grass, leaves, and yard trimmings are all designed by nature to fall back onto the earth and increase soil fertility, but instead are taken and shipped to landfills. When that compostable material ends up in the trash, it rots, creating methane gas: a greenhouse gas 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Just by composting, we can reduce our carbon footprint tremendously.

Soil is life. By properly composting, we can save our soils and our future.

(information provided by Kiss the Ground)

Recycling

Reducing garbage for the landfill and recycling is crucial and we support the philosophy “less is more”. Recycling saves energy, natural resources and landfill space. By recycling what we can, we help the environment. All of our glass, paper, and plastic are brought to the local recycling station. We also donate regularly to Maui’s non profit organizations when we replace linens, towels or clean out anything that still can be used. We provide reusable shopping bags for our visitors, and our well water is so sweet that we encourage our guests to fill up their reusable water bottles when leaving the property or hiking around on the land.

Approximately 650 tons of garbage went into the Central Maui Landfill each day last year. That equals 1,300,000 pounds per day or roughly 10 pounds per person each day. The national average is only 5 pounds per person each day.
If you do not recycle, the items do not just disappear—they go into the landfill, where it takes an incredible amount of time to decompose. Every aluminum can that gets buried takes 80 to 100 years to decompose. Alternatively, when you recycle one aluminum can, you save the energy equivalent to one cup of gasoline, or the electricity to light a 100 watt light bulb for 3.5 hours. Plastic takes 700 years once it is buried and glass takes an astonishing 1 million years to decompose.

Therefore, we ask that you support our Planet Earth by washing out your recyclable materials before placing them in the appropriate containers. We then take these items to be recycled. Glass is crushed at the recycling center in Kahului, which is then used by local companies as pipe cushion and asphalt mix. It is also used for sandblasting, decorative landscaping, and water filtration. Clear plastic bottles are shipped to China where they are used in making items like indoor and outdoor carpeting. 2 plastics are bailed on site and sent to the west coast where they are processed into plastic lumber. Aluminum is crushed, packed into forty-foot containers, and shipped to a major aluminum recycling factory in Alabama. (Fun fact: Every aluminum can that you recycle today can be back on the shelf as a new recycled can in as little as 60 days, with no limit to the number of times that it can be recycled.)

Bamboo

About
Bamboo is the green lumber of the future, and Kutira has been recognized with the Bamboo Ecologic Corporation’s Pioneer Award for her 20+ years of involvement as an advocate for sustainable building. Bamboo has incredible potential, and we are excited to share the beauty of it with you, whether you are staying in our Bamboo Temple (the first permitted bamboo structure in the United States), the Thai Hale (the first prototype of a prefab bamboo house built entirely in Vietnam), or roaming our land. 

Furthermore, bamboo is a pioneering plant and can be grown in soil damaged by overgrazing and poor agriculture techniques. Unlike most trees, proper harvesting does not kill the bamboo plant so topsoil is held in place. Additionally, because of its dense litter on the forest floor, it actually feeds the topsoil over time. This will provide healthy agricultural lands for other crops for generations to come. 

The Future of Lumber
Bamboo is a versatile plant with a short growth cycle, as it can be harvested in 3-5 years, compared to 10-50 years for most softwoods and hardwoods. It is also the fastest growing plant on this planet, as it grows one third faster than the fastest growing tree. Some species grow as much as four feet a day. Thanks to its rapid growth, the yield (weight per acreage and year) is up to 25 times higher than that of timber. Furthermore, bamboo can be harvested and replenished with virtually no impact on the environment. It can be selectively harvested annually and is capable of regeneration without need to replant. There is a 3-5 year return on investment for a new bamboo plantation, compared to 8-10 years for rattan, and even longer for other timber sources.

Bamboo serves as a viable replacement for wood. It is one of the strongest building materials, with a tensile strength that rivals steel and weight-to-strength ratio surpassing that of graphite. It withstands up to 52,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. Furthermore, with a 10-30% annual increase in biomass versus 2-5% for trees, bamboo creates greater yields of raw material for use. One bamboo clump can produce 200 poles in the five years it takes one tree to reach maturity.

Additionally, bamboo is a natural control barrier. Because of its widespread root system and large canopy, bamboo greatly reduces rain runoff, prevents massive soil erosion, and keeps twice as much water in the watershed. Bamboo also helps mitigate water pollution due to its high nitrogen consumption, making it the perfect solution for excess nutrient uptake of wastewater from manufacturing, intensive livestock farming, and sewage treatment facilities. 

Benefits
Bamboo is also a critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It helps reduce the carbon dioxide gases blamed for global warming. Some bamboo even sequesters up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare, which makes it an extremely efficient replenisher of fresh air. It is the fastest growing canopy for the re-greening of degraded areas and generates up to 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees.

Current research even points to bamboo’s potential for a number of medical uses. Secretion from bamboo is used internally to treat asthma and coughs, and can be used as an aphrodisiac. Ingredients from the root help treat kidney disease. Roots and leaves have also been used to treat venereal disease and cancer. The sap is said to reduce fever, and ash will cure prickly heat.

Clearly, bamboo is an amazing plant and we hope you will be inspired to support this burgeoning industry by seeking out bamboo papers, clothing, furniture, floors, and even homes built of bamboo.

Uses
Bamboo also serves as a renewable resource for agroforestry production. It is used to produce flooring, wall paneling, pulp for paper, fencing, briquettes for fuel, raw material for housing, cloth, and more. In the tropics it is possible to grow your own home! In Costa Rica, 1000 houses of bamboo are built annually with material coming only from a 60 hectare (150 acres) bamboo plantation.

Safety & Sustainability

At Maui Eco Retreat you will find the serenity you seek knowing you are safe in our care and aligned with the A'ina, the spirit of the land.

THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL

Maui Permit #BBPH2009/0003

Hawaii Permit #SUP2 2007/0005

Hawaii Tax ID #TA-063-848-6528-01