Maybe one day, year-round beach clean-ups will not be necessary. Until that time – when we collectively work to keep our environment clean and solve our trash problem – it is important to recognize those who volunteer their time to help keep the shores of Maui free of trash and debris.
Friday night at the Maui Film Festival, legendary water-person Kai Lenny spoke of a historical coastal cleanup at one of Hawai‘i’s most famous and cherished surf spots: Pe‘ahi (Jaws). A group of more than 40 volunteers gathered on the North Shore last week for the “Hard to Reach Beach Clean Up,” hosted by Love The Sea, supported by Handsome Bugga Productions, Elite Island Construction, Hawaii Wildlife Fund, Surfrider Maui, and Parley for the Oceans.
In the early morning, a fleet of jet skis and boats set off from Kahului Harbor towards the famous Maui coastline. The watermen and women focused on the Hamakua Coastline from Maliko Gulch to Waipio Bay, including shoreline of the world famous big wave surf break, Pe’ahi.
“Having lived the best experiences of my life on this coastline of Maui and especially at Pe’ahi, I feel it is my duty to be a steward of this land and sea so future generations can live their best lives here like I have,” Lenny said. “The gathering of community organized by incredible organizations like Love The Sea, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, Surfrider, Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i and Parley shows the power of our impact on the environment around us and how easy it is when we do it together.”
The team extracted more than 8,000 pounds of mostly average-sized plastic marine debris, which is equivalent to nearly 200,000 toothbrushes, or a year’s worth of trash for five people, according to Love The Sea. Four tons of trash is also the equivalent of what would be produced if every resident and visitor on the island of Maui throwing a toothbrush into the ocean. Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i’s Founder and Parley for the Ocean’s CEO for Hawai‘i, Kahi Paccarro, recently spoke about the simple importance of a toothbrush in a recent article that National Geographic published.
“It’s heartbreaking to see some of the most beautiful places on Earth, where few humans ever set foot, be inundated with plastic pollution,” said Paccarro, who was an influence and major part of the Hard to Reach Beach Clean Up. “As we were cleaning the decades of accumulation, we watched as more washed ashore. We need to clean to maintain the coastlines, but cleaning is not the answer. We need to really focus on the source. We need to become better consumers, companies need to design better products, and governments need to regulate because we need to preserve our oceans.”
Organizers said some of the world’s most accomplished water-people, community volunteers, sponsors, and like minded nonprofits came together to make the monumental event a huge success. It was the largest coastal clean-up effort volunteers had ever executed on Maui in a single day, according to Love The Sea. In keeping with the sustainability theme, Moku Roots provided everyone with a healthy, organic, and locally sourced lunch plate packaged in ti leaf. Also, instead of traditional plastic trash bags, volunteers used reusable grain sacks donated by a local brewery.
“We all have to make some serious changes of our single-use plastic consumption to avoid creating more waste that pollutes our oceans, coastline, and land,” said Matt Lane, assistant director of Love The Sea. “Through individual choices and corporate responsibility we can continue to tackle the plastic pollution crisis facing our island.”