It’s an honor to present our very first #westsidewahine - Rebel Hawaii. Rebel is a collective of local wahine that educate the public on reef-safe sunscreen to protect the Hawaiian reefs. They host micro-plastic and beach cleanups, sunscreen swap events, and more across Maui. I sat down with my friend, the woman behind Rebel Hawaii – Michiko Smith.
W: First and foremost – what kind of actions can we take to help support Rebel Hawaii?
M: “What I ask from the community really is to be more aware of the products that they use, and their daily actions.”
The rebels spread awareness by walking the walk. Every one of their events are filled with the next generation of keiki (kids), their families, and friends. All learning how to take care of the ‘aina. Michiko explained that the goal is always “to promote this in a fun way. It’s a fun thing to clean up your ocean… to plant a tree. To be really in touch and have that knowledge.”
For locals or anyone coming to visit Maui, you can stay up to date with their events on Instagram @rebelhawaii and come join the next clean-up!
If you’re out of town and still want to support, no matter where you are in the world you can be an advocate and share the knowledge. Save this photo to your phone. Every time you have the opportunity to educate someone, share the photo. Now they can continue to spread the knowledge to their community. Educate your friends, family, whoever will listen. Even if you live nowhere near an ocean! We shouldn’t be spraying or rubbing chemical ingredients onto our body’s largest organ – the skin. The mission of Rebel Hawaii is to eventually have all chemical-based sunscreens banned in Hawaii.
On her days off work, Michiko spends her time surfing. “You’ll find me at Honolua Bay – also called the yard at sunset..."
"I have such a connection with that place because I grew up surfing there. My dad surfed there when he first came here. My uncle passed away in those waters so he’s like the guardian of that place now.”
Growing up playing in the ocean and hiking through the mountains, it's no surprise Michiko became a steward of the 'Aina. While she's not organizing beach cleanups, her full time job includes hiking the West Maui mountains collecting data for the watershed. "Being able to go on the ridges for work has really connected me to my place.”
Another favorite spot on the westside is Kahakuloa Valley. “My uncle has a house in the valley where he shapes surfboards. All my surfboards are from him… he’s just a straight up legend! He’s been shaping for fifty-plus years."
But I really just love that place because… it’s one of those places where I feel like I can get a cleanse. Sitting in that ice-cold water from the mountain. It’s a really breath-taking drive there and out.”
Rebel has teamed up with some rad local sunscreen brands. Keep a look-out for Lahaina Organics and One Love Body Soul in local stores or online. Get 15% off One Love Body Soul products with the code: rebelhawaii15
See all of you at the next beach clean-up! Aloha