Noel Morin is an active member of the sustainability community here in Hawai’i. He is a great example of the impact an individual can have on important issues that are affecting our way of life. From individual changes to sustainable practices to wide involvement in organizations working towards better sustainable transportation choices, Morin proves that individuals can make a difference.
Morin has lived in Hilo since 2004, when he moved from California with his family. He developed an interest in sustainability and climate many years ago and made many lifestyle changes to take action. Morin installed a rooftop solar energy system, energy-efficient appliances, and solar hot water heating. In 2011, he purchased his first electric vehicle (EV). While it was a pricey investment, it was worth the cost. Not only was he able to drive electric, but he was also able to inspire others to make similar lifestyle changes. In addition to serving as the president of Big Island EV Association and Hawaii EV Association, Morin is involved in Hawaii Island Citizens Climate Lobby, Think B.I.G. (Big Island Green), and Sustainable Energy Hawaii.
In 2012, Big Island EV was created with the intention of bringing together EV owners so they could help each other understand the ins and outs of owning an electric vehicle. Big Island EV has since expanded to be an advocacy and public education organization that serves to address the lack of awareness of EVs. Anyone is welcome, from EV owners to people interested in learning more.
Recently, organizations across the state with similar missions to Big Island EV have joined forces to create the Hawaii EV Association. Morin helped lead the charge. Together, they are able to mobilize more EV owners to advocate for EV policy. By creating a louder voice for EV advocates, they can encourage greater action in the state legislature.
While Morin’s work with electric vehicles is important, he recognizes it is just one piece of the bigger picture of sustainable transportation. As Morin described, reducing the need to get behind the wheel, maximizing mass transport, and making micro-mobility safer are additional aspects of sustainable transportation that need to be addressed. Sustainable transportation also has to be viewed through the lens of social equity. EVs and other transportation options need to be an easily accessible option for people of all walks of life.
There are many organizations and individuals in Hawaii that are doing the work to make progress in sustainable transportation. One of Morin’s biggest pieces of advice is to get involved. Volunteer your time or expertise to organizations that are doing the work day in and day out. Big Island EV operates on the fuel of volunteers. Organizations like this are important in bringing people together to create change, but they require the generosity and vision of volunteers and individuals like Morin.
Morin is an advocate of “seeking the truth.” So much of what is portrayed in the media is not the full story. He encourages people to do their own research, to dig deeper, and to ask questions. Seeking the truth allows people to be better advocates for change. But doing the research is only the first step. Take it further, have conversations with your friends, family, and peers about what you’ve learned. Spread the word.
While we can choose to be in “a state of despair,” we can also choose to take action to make a difference for future generations. Morin described how individuals, no matter what their role is in life, from high school students to retirees, can make a difference. Understand our climate and environment and talk about it with those around you.
“It’s going to take all of us. Not just a handful of individuals in a board room.”
Author: Laurel Ainsworth, STCH Intern