Ocean-focus in June highlights horrors of shoreline plastic

Local News

June is an ocean-focused month, with World Reef Awareness Day, World Oceans Day and International Surfing Day. 

Despite Hawaii’s reputation for beautiful beaches — tons of plastic gets washed up on Hawaii’s shores.

Ocean awareness is a big deal around the world in June. In Hawaii and elsewhere, it’s only fitting, with the kids out of school and more people with time to enjoy the beach.

Kahi Pacarro, founder and director of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and director of Parley Hawaii, says “June is the month for the oceans, yet, it should really be every day, as most of these holidays really are, but it helps bring a broader awareness to the oceans.”

June eighth was World Oceans Day, and for the occasion, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii removed thousands of pounds of fishing nets and other plastic debris from coastline on Maui.

The clean-up was funded by the Hawaii branch of the company Parley for the Oceans.

Pacarro explains that, “Parley for the Oceans is responsible for the Adidas shoe that’s made from ocean plastic, of which 14 million were made just last year.”

He says, “we’re going to be able to take a lot of the plastics that were collected on World Oceans Day and reconstitute them into new materials that we can use right here in Hawaii.”

Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii is one of many groups that stage large-scale beach clean-ups. They and those other groups would like to see us use a lot fewer of these.” (Showing single-use plastic water bottles and plastic utensils.)

Pacarro says when volunteers help with beach clean-ups, “people realize that the things they are picking up are the same things they use in their everyday lives, and we tell people, ‘Hey, clean beaches start at home.’ “

He says small steps can make a big difference, like using re-usable cups or Thermoses for tap water instead of single-use plastic bottles.

Plastic food packaging should also be avoided, he says. 

“Where does that stuff end up, once you’re done with it? In a trash can, hopefully. But from there, you don’t know. And you think you’re throwing stuff away, but ‘away,’ for us, is actually a beach, the stomach of an animal, at the bottom of the ocean, or floating on the surface in our gyres, only to wash up on our beaches someday soon.”

More clean-up events are scheduled around Hawaii on a regular basis. Here’s a link to some of them: http://sustainablecoastlineshawaii.org/cleanup-events/ 

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