The Green Leaf

All drains lead to the ocean

March 11th, 2013
Disney Pixar's "Finding Nemo" has a great message: that all drains lead to the ocean. Photo courtesy Disney.

Disney Pixar's "Finding Nemo" has a great message: that all drains lead to the ocean. So we need to care about what goes down our drains if we care about the ocean and life in the ocean. Photo courtesy Disney.

My 2-year-old has recently decided on "Finding Nemo" as his latest movie to watch over and over again. We've moved on from Disney Pixar's "Cars" (which we saw at least 150 times) and now we're into Disney Pixar's "Nemo," which came out on Blu-Ray over the holidays.

Nemo has many important messages, among them the stark reality that sharks and barracudas consume smaller fish in the ocean ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef. Also, that you only hold someone back if you don't give them a chance to go out there, try things and gain self-confidence (i.e. Nemo's overprotective dad). Plus, life is, and should be, an adventure (just ask Dorie).

But most important of all, the "tank fish" living in the dentist's aquarium inform us that "all drains lead to the ocean." Thus, their escape route possibilities include being flushed down the toilet or going down the dentist's water fountain.

And that's an important message for us as humans and residents of Hawaii, where we're surrounded by ocean.

We usually have the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality.

When we put something in the trash or pour something down the drain, it's gone, as far as we're concerned. Until we learn that it's not, because our landfills are overflowing so much that we have to consider shipping opala to the mainland, and whatever goes down the drain ends up in the ocean.

And if we want to enjoy the ocean — swim in it, play in it, surf in it or snorkel and scuba-dive and see a thriving reef — we'll be affected by whatever we put down that drain.

Keeping whatever flows into the ocean clean is the mission of Hui O Ko‘olaupoko, which is featured in today's Green Leaf column. The non-profit group's focus is to protect ocean health by restoring the aina, from mauka to makai.

It's not the most glamorous work, but we're talking about stream restorations, storm drain retrofits and rain gardens — projects that rely on the help of volunteers but also bring the community together.

You, too, can make a difference. Here are four simple things you can do, according to Hui O Ko‘olaupoko. 1) Plant natives that are drought and pest resistant. 2) Wash your car on a lawn with phosphorus free soaps. 3) Sweep driveways, sidewalks and road gutters to prevent debris from entering the storm drain and 4) Scoop up dog poop or pet waste and dispose of it properly to prevent excess bacteria in our streams.

And, if you've got the room in your yard, consider building a rain garden.

It's a simple lesson for a 2-year-old — all drains lead to the ocean. All of it is connected. So we need to take care of the aina in order to take care of the ocean to keep Nemo's home beautiful.

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