Volcano Island Honey Co. (VIHC) was recognized for its ongoing commitment to social and environmental principles in business as the winner of this year’s Kuleana Award. The Kuleana Award is presented each year at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Kuleana Green Business & Environment Conference. VIHC is a member of Green America and the Kuleana Green Business Program- both programs which screen businesses for social and environmental practices.
A Leader in Triple Bottom Line Businesses on the Big Island and the State of Hawaii
Richard Spiegel started Volcano Island Honey Company as a hobby in the late 1970’s and formalized the business around 1993. Before anyone on the Big Island even heard of “triple bottom line” business, Richard was doing it. I think it can safely be said that Volcano Island Honey Company is the original “triple bottom line” business of the Big Island, and maybe even in the state. Even though VIHC is a small company, from the beginning Richard was passionate about caring for employees and the community, making as little environmental impact as possible, improving the environment whenever possible, making a profit, and sharing the profits with employees and the community through non-profit donations. He has codified these practices into the business and calls Volcano Island Honey Co. a business with an “Uncommon Philosophy.” Read more about the specific environmental and socially responsible practices of Volcano Island Honey Co.
An Environmental Advocate
Richard has taken a leading role in the beekeeping industry to advocate for safe and non-toxic treatment of varroa mites. The general trend is to use toxic chemicals in hives, which the mites eventually develop resistance to. This is bad for bees, people, environment and the agricultural industry that relies on bees. He could care just about his own business, but he has spent many precious hours fighting for all the bees, the environment, and our agriculture industry. Richard has also worked for years to preserve the Puako Kiawe forest instead of having it developed into a golf course. The Puako Kiawe forest, located on the South Kohala coast on the Big Island, is one of the largest contiguous kiawe forests in the state, is a major forage habitat for bees, and a potential source of firewood, and other value-added products. VIHC, in partnership with Neil Logan, has developed a conservation and sustainable management proposal for the forest with the intention of identifying a philanthropic investor who can take advantage of the tax benefits of a conservation purchase.
Most people think of kiawe as a junk tree, but VIHC knows better. VIHC has invested over ten thousand dollars into the study of the community economic and environmental benefit of kiawe. Did you know that the bean makes a high protein flour? It is a delicious cooking flour and could help contribute to island food self-sufficiency!
Posted by Andrea Dean.