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Environmentally Ranking Hawaii’s Islands

islandThe Hawaiian islands, like islands all over the world, are very popular tourist destinations because there are unique features to islands that exist nowhere else. Unfortunately, this heavy influx of tourists also means that islands are also at risk for higher degrees of environmental damage than other places on earth might be.

Recently, National Geographic Traveler magazine and the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations came out with a list of islands around the world, ranked in terms of their environmental health. A group of more than 500 experts got together and compared notes, rating 111 islands and archipelagos around the world. The best possible score was 100, but it shouldn’t be surprising that no island scored higher than 87. First, let’s look at what the scores mean:

Guide to the Scores:
0-25: Catastrophic: all criteria very negative, outlook grim.
26-49: In serious trouble.
50-65: In moderate trouble: all criteria medium-negative or a mix of negatives and positives.
66-85: Minor difficulties.
86-95: Authentic, unspoiled, and likely to remain so.
96-100: Enhanced.

Now, let’s see where Hawaii’s islands ended up.

So, while the results aren’t “catastrophic,” there’s serious room for improvement. Molokai, the highest-ranking island, has “minor difficulties,” and three of the five islands ranked are either in serious or moderate trouble. What does this mean for tourists to Hawaii? Well, if you’re interested in lessening your environmental impact on the islands you love, you can do things like ask questions of the hotels or resorts you’re considering staying in, to find out how much recycling or water conservation they do. You can take advantage of public transportation instead of renting a car. For more ideas on how to travel in a more eco-friendly way, be sure to check out the Eco-Travel Guide.