Small steps better than none for environment
City Council members have proposed bills aimed at environmental quality.
Regardless of who first suggested them -- Mayor Mufi Hannemann or his City Council rivals -- proposals to ban certain plastic bags, better conserve water, further encourage solar water heating and install other "green" practices are worthy undertakings.
It would be even better if the city's leaders aimed higher and more aggressively pushed Honolulu toward pursuits to curb a growing population's effects on the island's environment.
That said, even the small steps outlined in proposals by Councilmembers Ann Kobayashi and Donovan Dela Cruz, who are often at odds with the mayor, would help. Though Hannemann's spokesman greeted them dismissively as some of the same the mayor has offered or already has initiated, that they agree should be seen as a good start.
The plan that could raise the most ruckus would require that larger businesses use biodegradable plastic, recyclable paper or reusable bags, but more consumers are bringing their own bags to carry away groceries and goods. Moreover, many retail stores and supermarkets are selling or giving away free branded reusable totes, mindful that neither paper -- even recyclable, which is problematic in reclaiming -- nor plastic is a good option.
Other cities across the nation already have adopted similar restrictions, overcoming objections from businesses primarily about increased costs, so city leaders should be able to settle that.
Requiring that new buildings be constructed to energy-efficient standards and recycling material from demolition and construction projects are among the boldest of the proposals. Though a tax credit for solar water heaters is duplicative of state incentives, it could motivate more homeowners to install them.
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