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Volunteers Clean Electric Beach

“Get the drift and bag it!”

That’s the rallying call to action for the cleanup at Kahe Point Beach Park, locally known as Electric Beach, fronting the Kahe Power Plant.

The Kimura family of (from left) Taka, Sela, Karin (an environmental scientist at Hawaiian Electric), Lena and Ella were among the 150 volunteers from HECO — including employees, retirees, their families and friends — who picked up, bagged and recorded marine debris and trash Sept. 15 along Electric Beach by Kahe power plant. Photo by Stephen Ward of HECO.

Hawaiian Electric Co. employees scoured the beach for the past 20-plus years. On Sept. 15, 150 employees and retirees of HECO, as well as their families and friends, spent the morning gathering more than 120 bags of trash, more than 20 tires and other miscellaneous junk from the two-mile stretch.

“The amount of trash was down from preceding years, which is a hopeful sign that individuals are becoming more mindful of proper disposal,” said volunteer organizer Mike Carberry, who has been participating in the cleanup for the past 12 years and served as the coordinator for 10 of those years.

Most of the volunteers return year after year to lend a hand and keep the beach clean. It’s part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, which is spearheaded in Hawaii by Christine Woolaway of the Friends of Honolulu Parks &

Recreation. Other individuals and groups take part in the initiative at various beaches across the state, but Kahe Beach’s beautification is solely thanks to HECO’s enthusiastic crew.

“Protecting the environment is one of the foundational values of Hawaiian Electric, so it comes down to being a responsible environmental steward and leading by example,” said Carberry of the largest outreach so far this year.

“What always stands out for me is seeing everyone working together under the hot sun and realizing that these are my co-workers and their families.

“It’s also gratifying to see it make a difference in keeping Hawaii’s beaches clean and trash free.”