Pledge To Our Keiki to help leave Hawai‘i better than you found it 

As part of Volunteer Week Hawai‘i, Alaska signed the Pledge To Our Keiki, giving back to Hawai‘i in partnership with travel2change and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). 

In Hawai‘i, mālama means to care for, or to nurture. For Auli‘i, 14, it is a way of life and all she’s known. 

“Since we were little, we’ve been taught about taking care of the environment and ecosystem in school, from our grandparents and basically everyone—mālama is about respecting our cultural roots, nature and leaving places better than when you found them,” she said.  

Auli‘i is one of several students on Moloka‘i, a small island within Maui County, who helped create Hawai‘i’s Pledge To Our Keiki to encourage visitors to respect and care for the places she and other youth call home. The Pledge, stewarded by Kanu Hawai‘i, translates into Hawaiian “the pledge to our children.” 

In honor of Earth Month and our efforts to care for the planet, Alaska Airlines signed the Pledge and is inviting our guests to do the same, in support of their goal to get 50,000 signatures in 2022.  

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine

 As part of Volunteer Week Hawai‘i, a group of employees and volunteers in partnership with travel2change and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) recently ventured to O‘ahu to get a better understanding of what it means to mālama and leave behind a positive impact where you fly. 

Understanding that the impact we have now will be the reality for the next generation.  It’s our responsibility to preserve our lands and ensure our future children have the same opportunities we did.” – Michelle, network planning & green team (our environmental business group).

Before walking along the shoreline and planting native plants near Ka‘ena Point, Kekai Mar, DLNR’s Park Interpretive Program Specialist, took a moment to share the importance of asking the land to welcome us in, “it’s like knocking on someone’s door before entering.” He says should always ask the land for permission and wait for a sign that it’s okay to enter whether it be starting a hike or walking down the beach. The sign could be a light breeze, the sound of crashing waves, a bird chirping or an insect buzzing by.

“Our elders have taught us that we are part of the environment, not above it, which means that the life, lands and waters are more than just our surroundings, it’s our home, we must treat it like family and with the utmost respect,” said Kekai. 

For Jacqueline, who works in revenue management and leads Alaska’s Green Team, the concept of taking the time to appreciate a place and culture before letting yourself in was remarkable and something she hopes to incorporate in future travel experiences. 

“I thought about all the things we do these days without ‘thinking’ about it or appreciating ‘why’ we’re doing what we’re doing. Kekai took the time to introduce the science, culture and land to us before we even picked up a shovel. His stories rooted the work to meaning and purpose. I now feel a relationship to the land we visited and an obligation to take care of it,” she said. 

Michelle (left), Jacqueline (right).

I took the Pledge because it’s the right thing to do. We should tread lightly wherever we go, striving to leave a place better than we found it. Flying is a wonderful way to see the world! What better way to appreciate a place than learning about and giving back to it? I promise the trip will be much more meaningful!” – Jacqueline

“The experience instilled a sense of responsibility and stewardship to honor and respect the environment around me. I viewed all my hikes, beach, park walks, etc. after with an enriched appreciation for the beautiful places I am fortunate to travel to and live in,” said Michelle.

We know even the smallest thing can have the biggest impact, which is why it’s important for travelers to be mindful of where they step, what they take and how they give back,” said Auli‘i.  

Taking the Pledge is one thing we all can do to be more mindful travelers but turning the Pledge into action is the next important step. Alaska is proud of our most recent commitments and actions to help care for Hawai‘i, as well as all of the places we fly. This includes our goal of becoming the most fuel-efficient airline by 2025 and achieving Net Zero by 2040. We’ve also made commitments to reduce our waste impact and took action in 2021 by switching to Boxed Water, which saves 1.8M pounds of plastic from ending up in our oceans. Last year, we announced a partnership with travel2change, a Hawai‘i-based social and environmental impact organization that connects travelers with volunteer experiences in the Hawaiian Islands. 

For Alaska, this marks 15 years of flying to Hawai‘i, and we want to help keep the islands strong and beautiful for many future generations to enjoy.