Sand Sifting May Be The Next Best Sport On Kailua Beach

Here is an example of a large spewing of microplastic debris spotted recently about midway between Kalama and Kailua beach parks. It was enough to inspire a few Kailua residents to conduct their own spontaneous cleanup. Photo from Diane Ako.

Just two weeks after Ocean Devotion Hawaii’s Dec. 1 “microplastic challenge” at Kalama Beach Park, beach walkers reported that the plastic was back along the same shoreline, stretching for about 20 yards.

“We wanted to help – there was so much stuff, and it was like coarse fish-tank gravel,” said area resident Diane Ako. She could identify small bits of mesh netting, a bottle cap and twine, but most of it was “really small.” She and a couple of friends then conducted their own morning cleanup effort.

“It was really as basic as that, a neighborly gesture,” she explained. They also reached out to nonprofit marine debris agencies for further facts and help. They learned that sand sifters and scoops are available to willing volunteers from Ocean Devotion Hawaii, as well as Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks, its environmental partner. Also involved locally in debris removal are Plastic Free Kailua, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, Sustainable Coastlines, Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (B.E.A.C.H.) and Surfrider Foundation.

Kahi Pacarro of Sustainable Coastlines has these simple tips for eager plastic pickers like Ako’s group: Kitchen colanders and strainers can remove the tiny plastic bits from the sand; or fill a bucket with water and dump the stuff in it – the plastic will float, and the sand will sink to the bottom.

“Microplastic is going to continually wash upon our shores for most likely, the rest of our lives,” Pacarro told Ako. “Reducing your own use of single-use plastic and getting others to do so will have a longer impact.”

To get support for your own crusade against micro-plastics, visit, or

B.E.A.C.H. also plans its regular marine debris removal effort from 7:45 to 11:45 a.m. Jan. 15 at Kahuku Beach.