Volunteers for 808 Cleanups are out there, spending their time, efforts and energy on cleaning up on any given day of the week — from Nanakuli to Hawaii Kai. From the depths of the ocean to the summit of Koko Crater . For them, Earth Day really is every day and instead of complaining, they're actually TAKING ACTION.
Recently, 808 Cleanups co-founder Michael D. Loftin has been posting what motivates these volunteers to do what they do. Maybe they will inspire you.
"It's my pleasure to share what you've told me in your own words," he wrote on Facebook. "Why you are a member of 808 Cleanups. It is my honor and privilege to know you and work with you on cleanups."
Below are just a few of the volunteers out of hundreds, from all walks of life, who share what motivates them. Find these posts at fb.com/808cleanups. Inspired? Here are 10 ways to get started.
Love locks like this one at the summit of the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail eventually rust and cause rust. Too many of them cause structural damage. Photo by Jamm Aquino.
Love those locks, not.
While the notion initially seems romantic, the fad of leaving love locks affixed to fences, bridges and public structures is, when compounded, a littering problem not too different from unauthorized graffiti. City authorities in Paris finally began removing thousands of locks weighing 45 tonsfrom the Pont des Arts earlier this month as a safety measure and effort to preserve the historic bridge. (A chunk of fencing fell from the weight of the locks last summer).
At one time, there were 800 to 900 locks that volunteers from 808 Cleanups removed in September 2014. The next day, they removed another 119, and an average of 10 to 20 a week in following weeks. There is a sign up there that informs folks that the locks will be removed on a weekly basis.
Love locks at the summit of Makapuu in September 2014. Photo by Lanipuakea Pila-Newville.
But as we all know, signs don't stop people from doing what they want to do. On a recent Sunday, only two locks were up there, including the one pictured above. Sorry Aleso, sorry Roxanne, but your lock came down. On the following Thursday, I only found one. Side note: What's up with all of the people who climb past the barrier with their selfie sticks - is it a quest to get the ultimate selfie shot?
With the salt air, those locks rust pretty fast. So does the fence.
Social media perpetuates the practice of leaving love locks, mostly by visitors that don't know any better. In this YouTube video, a happy-looking couple places the lock on the fence, then throws the keys "away." It's a sweet video. Except that "away" is down on the rocks below, and eventually, the ocean.
Perhaps there are solutions. In Moscow, they put up artificial "lock trees" along the banks of the Moscow River instead of the bridge at the site. 808 Cleanups volunteer Lanipuakea Pila-Newville suggested people put the lock on, take a photo, and then take it home with them as a souvenir.
At any rate, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resourcesis also repaving the trail and replacing the steps with a new walkway, fencing and railings at the two top lookouts (lots of dust if you're hiking during the construction and watch out for the tractors passing by). DLNR assistant parks administrator Curt Cottrell says the new design, with vertical bars too thick to attach padlocks to, should help deter the love locks fad. Renovations began in February and should be completed this summer.
Kudos to the volunteers who hike up there with bolt-cutters to keep the summit fence love-lock free (plus pick up litter on the way down). Photos by Jamm Aquino.
808 Cleanups volunteer Kelly Quin, above, after removing a "love lock" at Makapuu Lighthouse Trail. Volunteer Lanipuakea Pila-Newville, below, removing a lock. Volunteer Brian Connors, bottom photo, removing lock from bunkers at the top of the trail.
The original group of hikers behind 808 cleanups beneath Koko Crater Arch. 808 Cleanups founder Michael David Loftin, in red T-shirt, top. Photo courtesy 808 Cleanups.
While keeping tabs on breaking news stories, I've been wondering why there seem to have been so many hiking-related injuries and fatalities in recent months.
Some blame social media and the Internet for leading thrill-seekers and inexperienced hikers to unsanctioned trails that were formerly known to more experienced or knowledgeable hikers. Is it social media's fault? Is it today's quest to capture the coolest selfie, teetering on the edge of a mountain ridge? I don't know the answers. I know that plenty of experienced hikers from the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club have been going on some of these trails for years, without incident. Sometimes, I think it's just an unfortunate accident. No matter what, any hiking accident is tragic.
But social media can also be used in a positive way.
Today's column features a non-profit called 808 Cleanups, which was founded by a group of avid hikers who want to use social media for good.
Founder Michael David Loftin and his friends first became concerned when they found nature tagging below Koko Crater Arch. They decided to do something about it — clean it up, educate and encourage others to steward these beautiful places on Oahu.
The mission of 808 Cleanups is "to empower communities in restoring their natural environments through decentralized beach, graffiti, hiking trail and marine debris cleanups." Volunteers from 808 Cleanups are "striving to keep these areas beautiful for future generations" through an Adopt a Site program, education and political advocacy.
So, with a decentralized philosophy, anyone can lead a beach cleanup — whether you're a party of one and two or a party of 20.
"808 Cleanups can occur many ways," said Loftin, a Peace Corps veteran and lifelong environmentalist. "I would say 80 percent are people doing their own cleanups wherever they are. Sharing the stories is really important even if its' a small cleanup."
Taking your dog for a walk on the beach? Make sure you pick up after your dog, of course, and pick up some marine debris on the shoreline while you're at it. Going for a hike with some friends? Pick up any litter that you see along the trails and carry it out with you. The philosophy is to leave it better than when you got there.
Post it to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with #808cleanups and inspire others to do the same.
If people are using social media to find formerly unknown hikes, Loftin figures it can also be used to encourage people to respect nature and be responsible hikers and stewards of nature. The goal, he says, is to "make it better than when you found it."
808 Cleanup volunteers recently helped clean layers of trash from Tantalus Lookout (getting the community and Hawaii Discovery Tours involved), bonfire debris from Kaiwi Shoreline and continue to steward Liliuokalani Botanical Park, a city park that has also been neglected. Volunteers who clean a site at least twice a month and post to social media can get a free cleanup kit from 808 Cleanups' sponsor, Home Depot. Loftin usually meets volunteers on site to deliver the cleanup kits.
"This is the first web site of its kind, uniting a wealth of information for people to get plugged into conservation efforts," said Lihla Noori, executive director of HCA. "There's no better time than now for this web resource."
"Many people are aware of the need to protect and preserve Hawaii's natural beauty and resources, and they want to invest time, money and talent. However, they often don't know where the places are located, let alone have information about these areas and how they can help. ConservationConnections.org will help bridge that gap."
Initially, ConservationConnectons.org will allow users to:
>> Search for conservation areas — or stewardship sites — in Hawaii using name and location as search criteria, including Haleakala National Parks, Mokulua Wildlife Sanctuary and Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. You can search Mauka (mountainside), Makai (oceanside) or Maoli (cultural).
>> Search for a type of conservation activity, including invasive species removal, planting natives, nature walks and education/community outreach. For instance, a search for "native plants" came up with an opportunity to be a weed warrior at Haleakala National Park.
>> Learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities.
>> Seek research opportunities and internships at various conservation organizations.
More than 60 organizations in Hawaii are featured on the website, with more on the way. Down the line, ConservationConnections.orgwill also allow users to make online donations to no-profits through a partnership with PayPal.
You name it, we've got it here in Hawaii. We're talking about invasive species that can do great ecological and economic damage.
So on Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie kicked off the second annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week. It's an enormous problem for the state, high enough priority for Gov. Abercrombie, who has proposed up to $5 million to meet the operating costs of invasive species programs.
"We are experiencing a biological crisis involving a multitude of invaders ranging from the fire ant and coconut rhinoceros beetle, which can harm our animals and trees, to parasites attacking coffee crops," said Gov. Abercrombie in this year's State of the State address. "Each represents a deadly threat to our isolated ecosystem, natural resources, and economy, and I ask the public's engagement in addressing this menace."
Crowdsourcing seems to be the new trend in tracking invasive (as well as endangered) species these days. The state is asking people to participate in Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week by participating in efforts to survey all coconut trees in the isles for the coconut rhinoceros beetle.
Adult rhino beetles bore into the crowns of coconut trees to drink the sap, leaving a distinctive v-shaped cut in the leaves when the fronds grow out. They could kill half the coconut trees in the state.
You can help by going to the Project Noah website or downloading the app. The Beetle Buster Team from the University of Hawaii will assess the presence or absence of the pest across the state.
Volunteers are welcome to help remove three types of invasive algae from the reef behind Waikiki aquarium during public beach cleanups scheduled from February through October.
The Waikiki Aquarium recently received a $43,951 Community Restoration Partnershipgrant to continue its Waikiki Coastal Restoration efforts and research. The alien algae — Acanthophora spicifera, Gracilaria salicornia and Avrainvillea amadelpha — choke the reefs and crowd out native limu. They're considered a marine menace and threat to the beauty of Waikiki.
Beach cleanups will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, as well as on Saturdays, March 29, May 3, June 28 and Oct. 25.
"This grant allows us to further engage the public in our conservation efforts, which is a very important goal for us in 2014," said Aquarium director Andrew Rossiter. "We encourage everyone who has an interest in the ocean to join us for a rewarding Saturday morning out on the reef."
Volunteers will first be trained on how to differentiate between invasive and native algae plants followed by hands-on removal experience on the reef using snorkels, paddleboards and buckets. Dr. Celia Smith and her team from the University of Hawaii Botany Department will provide the training. Starbucks and Diamond Bakery are providing coffee and snacks for volunteers.
Waikiki Aquarium's volunteers have removed thousands of pounds of invasive algae from the reef behind the aquarium over the decade in an effort to protect the native marine plants.
Here's your opportunity to help the environment at the start of the year 2014.
There are beach cleanups planned by Plastic Free Hawai‘i and its community partners at three sites around Oahu on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Monday (Jan. 20). Volunteers check in at 8:30 a.m. and clean up between 9 and 11 a.m.
Bring a reusable water bottle, hat and sunscreen.
Choose one of the three:
>> Ka‘ena Point. Volunteers will clean along the Mokule‘ia Route.
>> Malaekahana Beach Park. Meet at mile market 34.
>> Waimanalo Beach Park.
For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> Ma‘ili Point Beach Park, 9:30-11:30 a.m. (check-in at 9 a.m.) — Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is hosting this beach cleanup, which includes Nanakuli, Ma‘ili, Pokai Bay and Makaha, to be followed by an after party with live music and more from noon to 3 p.m.
Volunteers should bring sunscreen, refillable water bottles and gloves. Other items that are good to bring include buckets, colanders (to sift out plastic debris) and reusable rubbish bags.
Join the Surfrider Foundaton in cleaning up Sand Island on Saturday.
>> Sand Island Beach Cleanup, 9:30 a.m. to noon — The Surfrider Foundation's Oahu chapter is teaming up with Lyon to host a beach cleanup at Sand Island State Recreation Area. Start with a yoga warmup, sign in and start cleaning at 10 a.m. Please bring your own water bottle, a hat and sunscreen.
Last year, more than 500,000 volunteers picked up 10 million pounds of trash spanning nearly 18,000 miles of coastline during the annual International Coastal Cleanup. Do your part on Saturday.
The city and county of Honolulu's Department of Environmental Services has not only embraced the concept of DIY (do-it-yourself) recycling bins, but is inviting schools, community groups and volunteers to help make and install them at district parks, beaches and bus stops.
The city's goal is to install 1,000 of the HI-5 recycling bins around the island this year.
This month, Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawai‘i was one of the first groups to step up to the plate and partner with the city for the project. B.E.A.C.H. brought together volunteers to learn how to make the wire recycling bins that they will install around Oahu while educating the public about the city's new no-smoking rules.
They first made the bins in 2006, installing the first one in front of their home. The simple wire mesh bins come with a sign that says "HI-5/ Take, Leave, Whatevas..." The idea caught on and they were invited to give workshops.
The self-serve bins attach to existing trash containers to help keep recyclables separate. The city will not be picking up the recyclables.
Volunteers from Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii attend a city workshop to learn how to construct DIY HI-5 recycling bins. Photo courtesy B.E.A.C.H.
Spend the day cleaning up the coastline at Kakaako beach, then stick around for a rock concert on Saturday (Aug. 10).
Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is hosting the event on Saturday afternoon. Registration is at 1-2 p.m. at Kakaako Amphitheater. Help clean the coastline, whether it's picking up litter, cigarette butts or sifting out marine debris from 2 to 4 p.m. Please bring a reusable water bottle, reusable bags and reusable bags if you can (which will otherwise be provided).
From 4 to 7 p.m., enjoy live music by Tavana and Chaotic Five, plus food, keiki activities, educational booths and more.
Kakaako is becoming the new, hip and happening place, with a slew of new condos scheduled for construction over the next few years, along with new eateries, retail shops and food events like Eat The Street and Honolulu Night Market. This is Susatinable Coastline's first event in Kakaako.
Rocka‘ako is free and open to the public. If you won't be volunteering to clean up the coastline, a $10 donation is suggested for attending the concert. Visit sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org.