Inspiring Ocean Stewardship
By Lindsey Kesel, communications director, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii
A chance encounter with the founders of the original Sustainable Coastlines in New Zealand led executive director Kahi Pacarro and his wife, Louise, to enlist the help of like-minded friends to form what is now known as Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii (SCH). After participating in a community cleanup in Auckland and feeling the rewarding effects, the pair was motivated to focus on the health and preservation of Hawaii’s coastal areas.
Now approaching our third year, SCH is powering forward with the mission of “inspiring local communities to care for their coastlines through hands-on beach cleanups.”
Our outreach teams talk to kids about the hazards of marine and land-based debris, and we are working with organizations like Kokua Hawaii Foundation and Surfrider Foundation to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle. We are also collaborating with NOAA to handle and track reports of Japan tsunami marine debris sightings. Most recently, we testified to City Council in support of Bill 72, which proposes to ban smoking on several Oahu beaches. Above all, we’re focused on recruiting significant manpower to scour the shores on all four sides of the island: To date, 3,800 volunteers have removed more than 27,000 pounds of rubbish.
We’ve encountered a number of challenges along the way, but we’re starting to see positive changes. Some people have a hard time letting go of their reliance on single-use plastics, and getting adults to break the bad habit of leaving rubbish behind is tough. The more people we motivate to come out to our events, the greater the opportunity to improve awareness and empower individual action.
One of our smallest volunteers, 3-year-old Micah Beaucage, has made a habit of picking up debris, thanks to our cleanups. “Every time we go to the beach, he spends time carefully sifting through the sand to collect the smallest bits of microplastic, even before he jumps in the water,” says his dad.
Our upcoming Earth Day cleanup and concert with Sea Life Park will be a fun, interactive event, and is the largest celebration we host. You can follow us on Twitter (@Coasthuggers), find us on Facebook, and keep tabs on our progress at sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org.