April 27th, 2015
It was a beautiful Saturday for Sustainable Coastline Hawaii's Earth Day beach cleanup April 25 — volunteers swept the coastline of Kailua from the boat ramp to Kapalama and beyond. And Lanikai, and Ka‘elepulu stream and the pillbox trail.
There's no official tally of the total trash haul yet, but close to 500 volunteers showed up to clean the coastline, according to SCH executive director Kahi Pacarro. It didn't feel as if a big crowd converged on the beach because everyone was spread out along the coastline and park. Among the items picked up were, of course, cigarette butts, plastic debris, aluminum cans and other litter, but also a large, flat-screen TV (that was thrown into the bushes) and some needles, too.
I checked in at a tent set up at the boat ramp and was handed — not a plastic bag — but a large, reusable Oat Alfalfa Cubes bag to pick up opala with. I came, of course, with my Hydroflask and a hat. My dog, Kona, came along to "supervise." As I made my way along the coastline, I came across several volunteers that really inspired me.
There were friends and co-workers volunteering together – they were from the military, from Better Homes and other clubs. There were families, and parents who brought their kids to teach them the importance of cleaning up a place that you love. And then there was Tyler Stenstrom, a surfer and student from Kailua Intermediate School who came with his dad and aunty, and said he just wanted to "help out the environment" and "make sure our beaches are clean."
Here are some of the folks that came out to volunteer on Saturday:
Kim Harding (below) is a marine biologist who showed up because one of her friends volunteers for Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. She brought along her daughter, Maya, 3, who enjoys "cleaning up the beach where we play," she said. Her dog, Copper, came along, too.
Tyler Stenstrom is a student at Kailua Intermediate School, who came with his dad and aunty to participate. He enjoys surfing. He says Sustainable Coastlines came to his school to talk about opala. "I just wanted to help out the environment and make sure our beaches are clean," he said.
Volunteers from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, one of the event's sponsors (along with Manuheali‘i and Parley for the Oceans) were all smiles at the beach cleanup.
Ku‘uipo Roman of Aiea was at the beach cleanup with her whole family, including kids Rayden, Raizonjhon and Royale. She discovered Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii while camping at Pokai Bay. "They were there, and we decided to see what they were about," she said.
Turns out they were cleaning the beach, and before she knew it, her whole family had gloves on and was cleaning the beach. Now she's a regular volunteer every three months. She volunteers "because of my kids." She teaches them about the impact of litter on marine life and more.
"I want them to learn that cleaning is beneficial for all of us," she said. "If we don't do our part and clean, who will? It's our responsibility."
Kailua diver and fisher John Pedro was at the beach cleanup with his two kids, John IV, 6 and Pua, 2. They used bucket and shovel and would stop along the shoreline every so often, and with a little sandsifter, sift out the plastic debris. He actually gave me one, too, since I didn't bring one (Thanks, John, I'll be using it, for sure!)
"You have to teach them early," he said, of bringing his kids. "They're going to be taking part some day. "
Another group of friends from the military base got together and just decided to participate, to give back to the community.
On an earlier visit to Kailua beach, I remember seeing pieces of polystyrene foam (itty bitty pieces) that were strewn along several feet of the shore. I picked up some of it but could not get all of it (it's so lightweight, it blows around). As I walked along, I didn't find too many large, trash items — volunteers were doing such a good job that I think they had already picked up a lot of it. But I did find cigarette butts and microplastics.
It occurred to me, of course, that we should all do this, not just on days when there's an organized cleanup, but all the time. Every time we visit the beach. That's what I always say. Kailua Beach may be nice and clean, as of Saturday morning, but you can bet it won't stay that way for long.
By the way, to all who asked, Kona is mostly a Springer Spaniel mix. We adopted her from the Hawaiian Humane Society, so we don't know the mix. But she loves keiki. She says thanks for all of the attention. She says everyone did a great job.