How Hawaii turned its amazing surfing into renewable energy.

Hawaii is basically where good little surfers get to go when they die.

I mean, can you ask for a more picturesque location? Warm weather, sandy beaches, the majesty of the Pacific Ocean right in front of your face. Imagining standing there, watching those beautiful, aquamarine waves roll in … man, you can’t help but feel a little amped up, right?

But now, those waves are electrifying more than just surfers. They're also powering homes.

Photo by Northwest Energy Innovations.


In Kaneohe Bay, barely noticeable from shore, two wave turbine machines bob in the surf. Since this summer, they’ve steadily been producing electricity, funneling it back through undersea cables to a nearby military base and onto the Oahu power grid.

These are the United States’ first grid-connected wave energy generators. They were set up by the Navy, which is interested in testing them as power sources for refueling stations and remote communities.

"More power from more places translates to a more agile, more flexible, more capable force," the AP quoted Joseph Bryan, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, as saying. "So we're always looking for new ways to power the mission."

If they work,  communities all across America’s coastlines could use them, not just the Navy.

The Hawaii site is testing two different designs of wave energy makers.

An expert shows off a model of the devices. Photo from Cathy Bussewitz/AP.

The first is called Azura, and it looks kind of like a hefty version of a football goalpost. The other’s called Lifesaver, and it looks, well, kind of like a huge lifesaver. The researchers are putting the devices through the gauntlet to see which design will most reliably put out power and withstand the ocean’s tremendous forces and corrosive salt spray.

Between the two, they’re producing about enough energy to power just over a dozen homes right now. But later versions might be able to juice up hundreds of homes at a time, and they could be set up in big groups as well.

Imagine if these generators were set up on every coastline.

"When you think about all of the states that have water along their coasts ... there's quite a bit of wave energy potential," the AP quoted Jose Zayas, a director of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office at the U.S. Energy Department, as saying. He also suggested that if we were to really get our heads in the game, 20% to 28% of all of our electricity could eventually come from the ocean.

Other researchers are currently planning on building test sites in Oregon and California, too.

That said, wave power is one area of renewable energy where we’ve been lagging behind in the U.S. We’ll need to build a more large-scale infrastructure — something other countries are already doing — if we actually want to make this work. In Scotland, for example, they have been experimenting with wave and tidal energy for more than a decade.

A wave energy device in Scotland. Photo from P123/Wikimedia Commons.

The good news, though, is that we can learn from other countries’ experiences and use them as a guide as we try to get in the game.

Hawaii has given itself a mandate to be completely powered by renewables by 2045, which is a huge goal.

It's a smart plan for the collection of islands because otherwise they have to rely on giant, expensive container ships to deliver fossil fuels.

The ocean is one of the greatest natural wonders on our planet, and it has given us so much — food, transportation, and, yes, totally amazing surfing spots. And if we keep focusing on the ocean, maybe it can give us renewable energy, too.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.