Buying Maui-made products not only supports the island’s economy but also benefits the environment as less resources are used for shipping. 

Maui Ocean Treasures, the gift store at Maui Ocean Center, takes the concept of sustainable shopping a step further by selling locally made products created with recycled materials. 

Libby Behn, owner of Maui Island Love, handmakes items ranging from bags and pouches to wallets and card holders. Her products have been sold at Maui Ocean Treasures for the past eight years.  

“I’ve always made homemade Christmas gifts for my friends and one year I decided to just use fabric I had at home, and we made some tote bags and they were a big hit,” Behn says. “And shortly after that a local furniture design store was closing and they were giving away all of their fabric samples so be brought our car, loaded it up and our business was born.” 

Another company found on the shelves of Maui Ocean Treasures is Upcycle Hawaii. The Hilo-based business uses repurposed materials to make items such as upcycled plastic pouches with bamboo cutlery.

“It is our pleasure to turn trash into treasure,” says Mattie Mae Larson, owner of Upcycle Hawaii. “My motivation in creating Upcycle Hawaii is I believe the world was looking at trash through the wrong eyes. It is our mission statement to give overlooked and underappreciated materials a second life by creating quality and valuable products while diverting materials from local landfills.”

Larson says her inspiration came from beach cleanups and removing plastic pollution from the ocean since she was a young child. “Now we’re taking some of that debris, we’re diverting that trash from the landfill and we’re turning that into beach bags and earrings,” she says. 

Other sustainable products showcased at Maui Ocean Treasures include everything from Wahi Hawaii’s eco-friendly straws and produce bags to artwork of marine life made from reclaimed barnwood. 

“We even carry a line of mugs, hats, towels and other products featuring an image of the aquarium’s Vanishing Mural, which illustrates the impacts of climate change,” says Retail Director Sandy Fujiwara.  

There is no aquarium admission required to shop (just ask Maui Ocean Center’s Front Gate staff to visit the gift store). Maui Ocean Treasures is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the last entrance at the Front Gate at 4 p.m.