Afterthoughts: I’m Taking the Lessons From Our October Cover Story to Heart

Better together.


Katrina Valcourt

Every month, we try to inspire readers to take action. It’s actually part of our mission as a magazine. But, if I’m being honest, my own words don’t always work on me. The last time I publicly promised to make a change was in 2019, when I committed to five things to live more sustainably (see how I did). Now, our cover story has me thinking about how I can be a better local. Here are six things I vow to try:


Volunteer more often.

I had signed up for a community workday at Paepae o He‘eia last April, but when it was canceled, I never rescheduled. I will now. There are so many ways to get involved with a nonprofit; whether for just a morning or through a steady commitment, every little bit helps. And a few hours working in a fishpond will be way more memorable and impactful than sleeping in.


Donate blood.

Two hundred donations are needed every day in Hawai‘i, and that’s especially important during a pandemic, with so many more people hospitalized and fewer blood drives. If disaster strikes (it’s hurricane season through next month), we don’t have neighboring states to borrow from. Whenever I go long periods without donating, I try to remind myself of the loved ones in my life who have needed blood before and how thankful they were for the donors they never got to meet. When you’re thinking of saving Grandma’s life, scheduling that one-hour appointment becomes a top priority.


Eco Bag And Quote Zero Waste



Read local books.

I set a goal to read 50 books this year, but so far only four of them have had any Hawai‘i ties (and that’s counting brief stopovers to the Islands in a World War II biography). I’m going to squeeze in a few more by December. If I don’t borrow the books from my library, I make sure to buy copies from local indie bookstores, not Amazon. They need those extra $30 more than the richest astronaut wannabe in the world.


Watch virtual talks.

It’s so easy to get comfortable in our own little corners of the world, especially when we’re not going out much. But there’s so much to learn and explore about our community, culture and history through online panels, workshops and conferences. Many are free and I can watch recordings whenever I want. I’ve enjoyed learning about Indigenous solutions to climate change from the Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, how Big Island Coffee Roasters brews the perfect cup, the history of mermaids from UH scholars at the Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival, the “Eat. Drink. Film.” series from the Hawai‘i International Film Festival. And for those that do cost money, it’s an easy way to support local businesses while broadening our perspectives.


SEE ALSO: Meal Kits to Grocery Delivery: How to Eat the Best Local Food at Home


Buy more local food.

Hawai‘i farmers are amazing. And their products are fresher and better for the environment, since they’re not flown here on energy-burning jets and often have no unnecessary packaging. I already go to the farmers market a few times a month to pick up coffee, but I will make a point to grab more fruits and veggies from local farm vendors while I’m there. And I’ll put them in my reuseable tote from Encore Saloon.


Tip everyone.

Yes, I’m one of those people who didn’t tip much for takeout orders before; I stubbornly held onto the belief that tips are for taking care of me when I dine in. That changed when dining in was no longer an option, yet workers were stuck making low wages with no way to earn more. Now, that 20% tip is always factored in when I’m figuring out if I can afford to order from a restaurant, regardless of whether I’m eating there or at home.


SEE ALSO: What Restaurants Want You to Know: Here’s How You Can Help Maxed-Out Eateries


Most of us think we’re not bad people. And while that’s probably true, there’s always room to be better.