Archive for January, 2016

Plastic mural contest

January 28th, 2016

Winners of last year's Plastic Free Hawaii School Mural Contest, Iroquois Point Elementary School, with their tree of knowledge. Courtesy KHF.

Winners of last year's Plastic Free Hawaii School Mural Contest, Iroquois Point Elementary School, with their tree of knowledge. Courtesy KHF.

What kind of mural can you create out of recycled plastic?

The possibilities are actually endless, given the various shades and hues that plastics come in, and the limitless imagination of students in Hawaii's schools. There's still time to enter the Kokua Hawai‘i Foundation's Plastic Free Hawai‘i School Mural Contest.

It's open to students, K-12, who must use plastic marine debris — plastic bottle caps or other single-use plastics — collected at beach cleanups or recycling drives, to create a mural with an inspiring message. They must be at least 3-feet-by-3-feet, but can be as big as 5-feet-tall and 12-feet wide. They should be mounted on one-eighth-inch plywood.

The deadline to email submissions (a digital photo of the mural and entry form) is Feb. 20.

Last year's grand prize winner, Iroquois Point Elementary, created a mural entitled "Tree of Knowledge" to promote responsible environmental appreciation and action through reducing, reusing and recycling. The community worked together to turn trash into treasure. To read more, visit Kokua Hawaii Foundation's link.

Other finalists last year were Kainalu Elementary, Lanikai Public Charter School, Pearl Harbor Elementary and Waialua Elementary Schools.

The murals will be judged on use of found or reused materials, visual appeal, creativity and integration of the theme. The grand prize is a water refill station for the school, while runners up receive a waste-free classroom celebration kit.

Select murals will be displayed on stage at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth's "H20: The Story of Water and Hawai‘i."

Find the entry form here.

Posted in Contests, marine debris, Plastic | Comments Off on Plastic mural contest

Caring for Ka Iwi Coastline

January 22nd, 2016

Volunteer cleaning up along Ka Iwi Shoreline on Earth Day 2011. Star-Advertiser file photo.

Volunteer cleaning up along Ka Iwi Shoreline on Earth Day 2011. Star-Advertiser file photo.

The Trust for Public Land and Ka Iwi Coalition may have raised $500,000 to keep the Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline protected from development last year. But how about the trash, pallets, nails — and destruction — left behind by careless bonfire revelers?

That's another issue that requires more than fundraising.

Tomorrow, starting at 8 a.m. (Jan. 23, 2016), volunteers from 808 Cleanups, Kaiser High School and other organizations in partnership with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will spend the morning cleaning up the debris and restoring it to its natural state by removing the fire rings.

To volunteer, you can register at or call Paul Balazs at 808-738-7954.

Pallet fire debris left behind by revelers at Ka Iwi have been a recurring issue for years. Just recently, some folks not only left behind a huge mess, but did significant damage to the native plants that conservationists had planted in the area, according the Michael Loftin, co-founder of 808 Cleanups.

Logs, debris and trash left behind by revelers at Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline.

Logs, debris and trash left behind by revelers at Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline.

Some volunteers from 808 Cleanups have regularly cleaned the site for the past year, hauling out the pallets and picking up the nails and pieces of glass that children and others could potentially step on. The destruction to the native plants is particularly disheartening.

"It's times like this where you take a few steps back," said Loftin, "and you realize we need to keep persisting with restoring it."

Coastal plants at Ka Iwi include naupaka kahakai, ‘ilima, pa‘u o hi‘iaka, ‘akulikuli, pohuehue, ‘ohai, uhaloa and more.

Photo by Robbe Ripp/ Courtesy Manoa Heritage Center.

Photo of ‘ilima by Robbe Ripp/ Courtesy Manoa Heritage Center.

Meet at Erma's (the Sandy Beach end) of the shoreline. Bring water, a hat and sunscreen. 808 Cleanups will be providing cleaning supplies for volunteers. Optional potluck lunch to follow. You can also email



Posted in beach cleanup, Conservation | Comments Off on Caring for Ka Iwi Coastline

Banning the bead

January 13th, 2016


Microbeads. Courtesy

Microbeads. Courtesy

U.S. Congress could not agree on much in 2015, but surprisingly, it agreed that microbeads in cosmetic products should go in order to protect our oceans.

In December, both the U.S. House and Senate quickly passed the "Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015," prohibiting the manufacture and introduction of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentially-added plastic microbeads.

In between golfing and dining at Honolulu's fine restaurants during his annual winter vacation here, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law Dec. 28. He might have already made up his mind to sign the bill when Congress swept it through in December. But  maybe, just maybe, he was inspired while enjoying the fine white sands of the beach in Kailua, which are embedded with a perpetual stream of microplastic debris that wash ashore.

The nationwide ban on manufacturing goes into effect July 1, 2017, while the ban on sales goes into effect in 2018.

Environmental advocates like Surfrider Foundation, 5Gyres, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Story of Stuff, which supported the "Ban the Bead" movement celebrated it as a victory. But Kahi Pacarro, executive director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii says the group would have preferred the ban go into effect sooner.

"Between now and the time it does go into effect, it allows microbead producers and consumers to continue to pollute without consequence," he wrote in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, here's what you need to know:

>> How do you know if your cosmetic product has microbeads? If your toothpaste, face or body wash lists polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene, it probably contains microbeads. A list specifically for Hawaii is available at

>>  Beat the Microbead, an international initiative, actually launched an app that lists products as red (avoid) or green (free of microbeads). Learn more at Surprisingly, the list of red products include everything from 3D White Luxe toothpaste by Crest to cleansers by Neutrogena and Aveeno. The 2-in-1 wash and scrub at Victoria's Secret is on the list, too. If you click on the list for Hong Kong, you'll find several Shiseido beauty products as well.

>> Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, co-founders of 5 Gyres, study trash around the world's oceans but discovered these microbeads in the Great Lakes. Just one tube of exfoliating face wash could contain more than 350,000 microbeads. An estimated 2.9 trillion microbeads enter U.S. waterways each year. Once in the marine ecosystem, the microbeads absorb toxins that are transferred to fish that mistake them for food.

>> The tiny plastic particles, or microbeads, in these personal care products can easily be replaced with natural ones such as sea salt, apricot kernels or jojoba. The microbeads are designed to go down the drain, but are difficult to filter out through wastewater treatment systems due to their small size.

>> The Society for Conservation Biology confirmed that the microbeads pose a threat to the environment, resulting in adverse health effects in wildlife and people.

Members of the Surfrider Foundation were among supporters pushing for a bill to ban the microbeads at the Hawaii legislature last year as part of its Rise Above Plastics campaign. The bill did not pass. Several other U.S. states, including California, had passed a ban, but the federal one offers an earlier start date and covers self-defined "bioplastic" microbeads, which are also an environmental concern because they dont' actually biodegrade.

Stuart Coleman, Hawaii coordinator of the Surfrider Foundation, was surprised how fast the bill passed through Congress despite its bipartisan divide. Next, the Surfrider Foundation will work on banning polystyrene foam, which most people call Styrofoam.

"We've got to work together," said Coleman. "It's not us versus them. It's what's best for our health and environment because they're almost always related."

Video from 5Gyres:

Posted in Green health, Lifestyle, marine debris, Ocean, Plastic | Comments Off on Banning the bead

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